Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

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 Leadership What Constitutes Abuse Abuse is difficult to define cleanly and often exists in the eye of the beholder. Examples would include: • A threat of physical violence. • Harassment using vulgar or inappropriate language. • Threats of retaliation if de- mands are not met. • Continued insistence that unrealistic demands be met even when the client is aware that these requests are unreasonable. The damage to you and your clinic from ongoing interaction with abusive clients manifests in three distinct ways. Distress for You and Your Team No one should be abused at home, at work or anywhere else. The psy- chological toll of dealing with an abusive person varies by individual, and it is important to remember that even if a client's threats do not upset you, someone else in your clinic may be affected. Undue Influence on the Practice Imagine the most horrible client. This person says the nastiest things, screams the loudest and ultimately leaves you the worst online review possible. Now imagine your most wonderful client. Imagine the smile on her face and the cookies she left simply out of kindness. Now ask yourself: Which of these two people has a bigger im- pact on how you operate your clinic? For most of us, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Abusive cli- ents get your attention, hold your attention and make you question everything you're doing. You may find yourself or your team making decisions under this influence that you wouldn't normally make. Unpleasant Experience for Other Clients Consider what it's like for other pet owners as they watch a red-faced client scream at the front desk staff. Think about how those witnesses feel to be greeted by a veterinarian 1 2 3 When clients behave badly, sometimes the right thing to do is tell them goodbye — permanently. (Continued from cover) If you're like me, right now you're feeling a lump just behind your thoracic inlet. That lump is the forma- tion of the words, "No, you don't!" I've never cared for the saying "The customer is always right." I'm sorry, but it's baloney. Customers should always be listened to, respected, appreciated and honored as the people who pay our salaries and bring us pets to care for, but that doesn't mean they're always right. Sometimes they do things that are just plain wrong. As burnout and depression among veterinary professionals gain attention, it's high time to reconsider our personal and professional boundaries. Yes, we must do all we can to serve pet owners, and that means supporting them when they are frustrated, scared or angry. But are we obligated to accept verbal or physical abuse from a pet owner? Must we take unjustifiable punishment simply because a client wields both a credit card and Yelp account? The answer must be a resounding NO!

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