Today's Veterinary Business

OCT 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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paramount. Making eye contact, leaning forward and displaying a caring expression convey genuine concern for the client's feelings. Likewise, words matter. For exam- ple, "Sorry 'bout that" won't convey the same concern as "I am so sorry you have been inconvenienced." Take Action People are generally un- derstanding when mistakes or poor service occur infrequently. This is especially true if they perceive that someone genuinely cares about their feelings and takes action when things go wrong. Plan ahead so the team knows which actions to take when a client needs assistance. Hold brainstorm- ing sessions with employees to go over things that might go wrong, such as long wait times, providing erroneous information, failing to prepare prescriptions on time, a schedule error and forgetting to add services to a treatment plan. Remember that mistakes happen even if protocols designed to mini- mize lapses are in place. Next, train the team to react properly in different situations. Taking action to make things right is referred to as service recovery — the process of trying to return a customer to a state of satisfaction when a service hasn't met expecta- tions. The challenge can be in de- ciding which action is appropriate. The options should be routinely discussed with team members. Here are reasonable actions a prac- tice might agree to take: • If a prescription isn't ready as promised for a client who is in a rush, consider having an employee drop off the pre- scription at the pet owner's home at the end of the day. • If the team neglected to give a requested bath to a board- ed animal, offer a compli- mentary bath right away or a free one at the next visit. • If a client was significantly inconvenienced because of an excessive wait time, offer a $25 credit on the account or provide a free product such as shampoo or treats. A team member who takes action should signal it to the client with phrases such as, "Mrs. Jones, what I'll do is …" or "I'm going to [insert action step] for you." In many instances, service re- covery simply means conveying em- pathy and offering assurances. For example, if a client picking up a pet had to wait to talk to the doctor due to an emergency, an appropriate response might be: "I'm sorry for the delay. I know your time is valuable. Let me go see how long it will be before Dr. Smith can talk to you." Fortunately, a team trained to "Notice something, say something, do something" when things go wrong can build client loyalty and increase referrals. This is because of the service recovery paradox, which refers to a situation in which customers might think more highly of a business that acts to correct a problem than they would have if the problem never happened. The concept is that people form opin- ions based on whether they think a service provider cares and has gone above and beyond to help them. 3 Talk the Talk columnist Dr. Amanda L. Donnelly is a speaker, business consultant and second-generation veterinarian. She is the author of "101 Practice Management Questions Answered" and serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board.

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