Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 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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37 February/March 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Unfortunately, one of the most common responses of a CSR when faced with an upset client is silence because the team member is unsure what to say. CSRs trained to respond with kind and reassuring words can create lasting impressions. The best way to develop this skill is to facilitate a team meeting and discuss common scenarios. For example, a client comes in who is clearly exhausted after being up all night with a sick pet. A trained CSR might say, "Wow, so Charlie kept you up all night. I can see how tired you are. That must have been so frustrating." Remember that making eye contact is an essential component of this skill. Being Client-Focused Conveying a desire to help tells the client that the team wants to do whatever it can to make the visit easy, efficient and enjoyable. Talk with your team about being client-focused rather than task-ori- ented. CSRs who focus on building relationships, rather than just com- pleting transactions, will enhance client engagement and build loyalty. Helping should go beyond just saying, "We'll get you in an exam room as soon as possible." Because clients expect such cordial state- ments, the comments don't bond a pet owner to a practice. On the other hand, CSRs who say or do something unexpected will impress clients. For example, rather than asking, "Do you need help carrying everything?" — or worse yet, not offering to help — a client-focused CSR will come from behind the desk while carrying the client's products and say, "Let me help you out to your car." One of the most critical times for conveying a desire to help occurs during service recovery — the process of trying to return customers to a state of satisfaction when a service hasn't met their expectations. CSRs need to be trained to use specific communication skills to let a client know they're eager to help. Ideally, the process involves these: An apology or expression of empathy such as "I'm sorry to hear this happened." Validating the client's position with a response such as "I under- stand you're upset. Thank you for bringing this to my attention." Informing the client of the spe- cific action that will be taken to as- sist. Following through and keeping the client informed is paramount. Saying Goodbye While nothing is wrong with the goodbye phrase "Have a nice day," it doesn't leave a lasting im- pression. Saying goodbye to clients in a more meaningful way can build loyalty. Here is what you can do: Use a Tailored Closing Statement When saying goodbye, use the client's name and the pet's name. In addition, offer reassuring phras- es or engaging comments when appropriate. Here are examples: • "Mr. Jones, thank you so much for bringing Sophie in today. We love seeing you and having the opportunity to care for your beloved little girl." • "Mrs. Smith, it was wonderful to see you and Violet today. Tell your husband we said hello, and have fun at the movies." • "Mrs. Taylor, I know Chloe is going to feel much bet- ter now after getting her teeth cleaned. Please call us immediately if you have any concerns about how she is do- ing. Chloe's nurse, Jill, will call tomorrow to check on her." Reinforce the Team's Trusted Adviser Role Pet owners have many choices for veterinary care and products. It's important to remind them that your veterinary team is their No. 1 trusted adviser. You can reinforce the value of veterinary visits by forward-booking the next appointment. In addition, convey to the client that the team is always available to answer questions and provide education on all health care topics. Ask Engaging Questions Engagement increases if the ques- tions are inquisitive and demon- strate a genuine desire to find out more about the client or pet. This skill may come naturally to a CSR who knows a particular client. The CSR might ask pet owners about their families or jobs. The skill is more difficult when a CSR encounters a new client or a pet owner who visits only once or twice a year. In these situations, a pre- pared team might use the following questions to connect with clients: • "Why did you name your cat Peppermint?" • "Tell me how you found out about our practice." • "Are you ready for Santa to vis- it?" (Don't forget to acknowl- edge children and adults.) Convey Empathy and Understanding Clients may experience anxiety, sadness or frustration while at the practice. Their emotions may not be related to the reason for the visit. 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. 2 Talk with your team about being client- focused rather than task-oriented. CSRs who focus on building relationships, rather than just completing transactions, will enhance client engagement and build loyalty. 3

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