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Do your veterinary clients trust you enough?

Posted in Client Service @ Jun 15th 2016 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Trust Value Respect

If you want clients (& society) to willingly accept your recommendations and accept a pricing structure that allows you and your team to be fairly compensated then I believe it comes down to three important things:

Trust, Value & Respect

A recent spate of blog posts with claims of veterinary ‘scalping’ and an excellent post from Seth Godin about the importance of trust (The most important question) has got me thinking about trust and what it means to pet owners.  And I think it’s a question that you really need to ask yourself about your clients.

Do your clients trust you enough?

Trust: The firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something

(Online Oxford Dictionary)

Do they trust you to make to right diagnosis of their pet’s condition?

Do they trust your advice on how to maintain optimal health for your pet?

Do they trust your treatment advice when their pet does require treatment? 

But I've got a qualification!

Unfortunately the days where a piece of paper on the wall automatically meant your clients viewed your knowledge as absolute are gone (if they ever did exist).  This is partly due to the internet (Hello Dr Google) and partly due to cultural change and it’s not just the veterinary profession either; human doctors face similar issues.  

In order for a client to trust you now, you need to build up a solid relationship and this doesn’t develop overnight.  It’s also almost impossible to develop such a relationship through face-to-face conversations alone as you may only see clients a handful of times per year.

Communicate information that is timely & useful 

To develop a strong relationship with your clients that is built on trust you need to communicate with them regularly and offer information that is timely and useful.  If they have a question (no matter how minor) to do with their pet YOU should be the first person they turn to.  Before you panic and imagine phone calls at all hours, when most people are after an answer to a question, picking up the phone is not the first thing they do.... Hello Dr Google!

If a client has a question (no matter how minor) the first place they should go online to look is to you via your....

1. Website which can be home to:

  • Blog posts organised so they can see the topic they’re researching
  • Information/fact sheets relevant to your location
  • Links to your regular newsletters
  • Links to your Facebook Page & other social media

2. Veterinary practice Facebook Page where they can check for posts that may answer their question.

E.g. “I’ve just heard there’s a big storm coming & my dog freaks out - what can I do to keep him calm?”

  • Your Facebook Page Admin is of course also aware of the impending storm in your local area & has already posted a link to some helpful information on your website
  • Even better, your client receives the link on their Facebook Newsfeed before they’ve even thought of the question – how’s that for building trust in a relationship?

3. Regular newsletters emailed out to all clients

If they trust you they may have even chosen to file them, otherwise they should all have a home somewhere on your website.

Clients not online?

For those clients who don’t go online then it’s definitely tougher & more expensive to communicate with them between visits.  Reminder cards are still important as is developing your relationship with the wider community via your community outreach program (Community Outreach: Why it should be an essential part of your veterinary practice)

Whether it’s online, face-to-face or via community outreach programs, developing a strong relationship with your clients built on a solid base of trust also involves sharing a bit of ‘you’ – it’s hard to feel you trust someone if you’re not sure who they really are.  So don’t be afraid to talk about your own pets and even your family (you don’t have to go into specifics).

No matter how strong your relationship is with your clients they’re probably still going to make use of Dr Google as well as ask their friends and family for their opinions but if they trust you enough then it will be you they turn to for the big decisions and you that they’ll ultimately listen to.

 

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