Today's Veterinary Business

DEC 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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48 Today's Veterinary Business Leadership Once the mystery shopping is done, a report is filled out and presented to the team. Not only will you learn what you can do to improve customer service, but you will discover some of the things you do that the other practice does not. The process can be an eye-opener for everyone. Another idea is to do a custom- er service scavenger hunt, which can be a lot of fun. Find a business in your area that you know pro- vides excellent customer service. It might be a hotel, a restaurant or a department store like Nordstrom. I know of a car wash in Evergreen, Colorado, that fits the description. Take team members to one of these businesses and tell them to find at least five examples of exceptional customer service. After the scavenger hunt, get everyone together to discuss their findings and talk about which ideas could be applied in your practice. Keep customer service in the forefront of everyone's thoughts by making the topic a part of every team meeting. You can ask team members to provide you with ex- amples of exceptional customer service that either they provided personally or that they witnessed another employee doing. Reward one or several of the employees with a gift certificate or a prize. Learn From Your Mistakes I suggest you discuss customer service failures as well. Let's say a client was angry because your prac- tice was running an hour behind on appointments, or an invoice was much costlier than the client expected. How are these issues addressed in your practice? What could you have done to make sure the problems won't happen again or, if they do, a plan is in place to fa- vorably resolve them. Use customer failures as learning experiences. In the United States, unfortu- nately, we generally do not provide very good customer service. We can be rude to clients or look at them as more of an annoyance. When a veterinary practice does something as simple as greet a client who comes in the door, or use the pet's name, the act is perceived as good customer service. However, we can be so much better than that. For example, I know of prac- tices that have a client greeter or concierge. This individual is po- sitioned near the entrance and is charged with greeting the client and pet when they first walk in. The concierge will introduce the client to the receptionist and will make sure the client is offered a beverage and that children get a coloring book — anything to make the visit more positive. To enhance the client experi- ence, make sure your reception area is clean, odor-free and well-main- tained. Offer comfortable seating, current magazines and a television playing educational or cable pro- gramming. I suggest free internet access, too. I also have even seen practices that provide a computer station where clients can log on and check emails or surf the web. Excellent customer service is not rocket science. Consider busi- nesses like Ritz-Carlton, Starbucks, Marriott and Nordstrom. What do they do? They think about their cus- tomers' experience and find ways to create a more positive experience. As I have long said, "Love your clients so much, care for them and their pets so well, that they do not want to leave your practice for fear of a harsher world outside your door." Practice Smarter columnist Mark Opperman is president and founder of Veterinary Management Consultation Inc. and co-author of "The Art of Veterinary Practice Management, Second Edition." Leadership PRACTICE SMARTER When a veterinary practice does something as simple as greet a client who comes in the door, or use the pet's name, the act is perceived as good customer service. everyone's experiences when viewed over the course of a lifetime. In an interview with Psychology Today, Izenberg explained his per- spective on why surfing has been so beneficial for Lane and other veterans suffering from PTSD: • The ocean seems to have the cathartic ability to wash away negative emotions by putting them in a context of some- thing much bigger and more powerful than someone's individual life existence. • Learning to surf puts you in the flow channel where you get into the zone. (Is this starting to sound familiar?) • Surfing requires a singularity of focus that literally takes your mind off everything else going on in your life. • The adrenaline rush of surfing can re-create the novelty that many veterans might have grown accustomed to in com- bat but that gets squelched by routine civilian life. • The physical exertion from a day of surfing is exhausting and literally wipes you out, so you sleep better at night. Insomnia is one of the most insidious aspects of PTSD, and surfing serves as an excellent drug-free sleep aid. A Centering Exercise The ocean might not be readily available to most of us, but there are many other ways to center. In his book "Presence-Based Lead- ership," Doug Silsbee provides an exercise focusing on the three physical dimensions of the body that we've summarized here: Relax in a seated position with your feet on the floor and then focus on your three dimensions as follows: • Length: Feel the weight of your body pressing down into your seat, into your feet. Feel the downward press finding a sense of grounding and support while also draw- ing yourself upward with an aligned spine. "Through the dimension of length," notes Silsbee, "we access the felt experience of dignity." • Width: Breathe into your chest, feeling yourself take up more space, more width. "Through the dimension of width, we access the felt experience of belonging," Silsbee observes. • Depth: Sense the space behind you. Feel the history, knowledge, skills and expe- rience that live in you and make you the unique indi- vidual that you are. "Through the dimension of depth, we access the felt experience of fundamental sufficiency," according to Silsbee. We hope you find Silsbee's exercise helpful. Of course, if this talk of centering feels too esoteric, you can always call on the words of "Caddy- shack" legend Judge Smails: "It's easy to grin "When your ship has come in "And you've got the stock market beat. "But the man worthwhile "Is the man who can smile "When his shorts are too tight in the seat." Whether from captivating physical activities, guided medita- tions or even a humorous remind- er, we can all benefit from taking a moment to see our situations a little less seriously and treat our- selves and each other with a little more care and compassion. And the more frequently we are able to greet the world from a centered place, the better our odds of com- ing from a more balanced, relaxed state and finding our flow. Go With the Flow co-columnist Trey Cutler is a San Luis Obispo, California, attorney specializing in veterinary business matters. Co-columnist Dr. Jeff Thoren is president of VetPartners and founder of Gifted Leaders, a Phoenix company offering leadership and coaching services. Continued from Page 46

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