We know; you’re most at home behind the scenes – whether it’s in the operating room, or perhaps monitoring patients. It’s not something to be ashamed of as most veterinary professionals are more comfortable with pets than with people – it’s what you’ve trained to do. But let’s be honest – we are in a sector that also revolves around people – pet owners. We must ensure that customer service remains high, as this immediately benefits the care of the pet, and in this modern-day, good experiences mean good business. Because we know it’s not easy, here are our five tips to help you maintain customer service.
1. Stay Calm – Surpass them with kindness
If you find yourself confronted with angry or dissatisfied customers, understand that it’s typically because of a simple misunderstanding, rather than being unsatisfied. A simple way to deal with this is to listen, stay calm, and be kind – it’s difficult to remain angry with someone who’s being helpful and polite. This isn’t always an easy tactic to master, and it doesn’t always work, but the less combative you are, the higher the chance that you can reach a solution faster.
2. Don’t take things personally
Sometimes an owner says one thing but means the complete opposite. Recognisable? Probably! Although it’s rare you have the chance to get to the core of the problem, try to see the experience through the customers’ eyes. A typical owner may be stressed, and their emotions may be heightened, but remember that owners are dealing with more than we can see or hear in your quick consultation. Importantly; don’t take customers comments or remarks personally; the less you take it personally, the better the conversation will go.
3. Always go beyond the pet (Make it an experience)
During a consultation, all eyes are on the pet, and it’s easy to forget that the pet owner is there too. The owner will appreciate your focus towards the patient but try not to let it detract you from their experience. Have you noticed that owners often recall small details from visits weeks after later? For most pet owners, their visit is a rarity, so small things can easily stand out for them, so take a little time to attend to their needs too – so always try to go a little further. Be attentive, offer water or a tissue when needed. A nice touch is also to consider the needs of any children brought along (animal colouring pages are a good touch!), involve the entire family in explaining and providing information.
4. Share the burden (Give the customer a nudge)
Many pet owners have a busy life and their time – like yours – is valuable. A regular appointment for a check-up or vaccinations can simply be forgotten due to a busy life. So why not relieve some of the pressure by sending them a reminder when their pet needs to visit? A quick e-mail reminder will give your customers a nudge to schedule any vaccines due, blood tests or follow-up care. Also, don’t forget to contact them after the appointment to see how their pet is doing. Customers love this, and in many cases, it improves compliance with your advice and care!
5. Ask for feedback
Just ask! It is simple advice from our side – why gamble on something without knowing it’s going to work when you can just ask your customer for their help and opinion. You may have noticed that at IDEXX we do this – we often reach out to ask what you think about our services, and where we’re lacking. Try to develop a simple survey or ask for an online review. You can do this either in the clinic, with a follow-up e-mail, or in your newsletter. After all, it is difficult to improve the standard of care without proper feedback from the corner that it receives.