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How do you make your veterinary clients feel special?

Posted in Client Service @ Mar 13th 2014 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
What Do Your Veterinary Clients Look Like 1

Two recent events have started me thinking about the relationship between being made to feel special as a veterinary client and the $ value on the account.

Does being made to feel special mean clients are less likely to be concerned about prices?

I went to the hair dressers yesterday to get my ‘sparkles’ covered up (those that know what I mean: feel free to use this new terminology, those that don’t know: trust me, it was an essential visit!). My long term hairdresser has recently moved to a new salon..... a new expensive salon.  I shuddered when I heard the suburb it was it in before I even walked through the door.  And yes as expected prices have increased. So in an effort to save some money & just keep to the essentials (be off with you sparkles!!) on my last two visits I've asked not to have my hair blow-dried, just ‘dried off’ which really means having your hair dried but not ‘styled’ – so it essentially looks like it does when I do it at home.

Yesterday I noticed the lady sitting next to me also requested to same thing, so both of us walked out of the hair salon looking like our hair does when we do it ourselves.

I know that blow dying and styling your hair takes extra time and time is money for hairdressers so I understand why they’ve introduced a pricing structure that includes charges for all the ‘extras’.  But I wonder if by charging for every service, hair salon owners are missing the big picture.

In the past when I left the hair salon I would often get comments about how great my hair looked & after admitting to having just come from the hair dressers, I was then frequently asked “Where did you get it done?” (good hair dressers are hard to find!). Now although my ‘sparkles’ are gone I just look like I always do and not surprisingly no one comments on my hair.

I also used to walk out of the hair salon feeling fabulous & swinging my shiny professionally blow dried locks and not really considering the price.  Now I just race for the car thinking about the increased cost of removing the evidence of time in the form of ‘sparkles’.

So the question is – is it really worth charging for every ‘extra’ (like a styled blow dry) or should some services really be an essential part of the whole package? 

Should the vision of beauty salons be that ‘every client walks out looking & feeling fabulous’ and just add in the ‘extra’ time it takes to style a clients hair to the overall pricing structure?

Buying online vs face-to-face

This week for the very first time I also purchased over $200.00 worth of skin products online.  These were items I used to buy at a local beauty therapist – small business owner loss for an internet business gain.

So why did I buy online? 

Yes they were cheaper but that wasn’t the main reason.  In the past the local business has often been out of the products I need which means I've had to call ahead & then wait for the stock to be ordered or make a second trip.  But the other (big) reason I looked online in the first place?  She charges me $0.10 to use the eftpos machine.  Yes that’s right – on a $200.00 sale she will add on ten cents to the sale if I’m using my eftpos card to access my saving account.  This really, really annoys me.  I’ve even told her how unreasonable I feel this charge is but she still continues with it and I kept asking myself “Isn’t it possible to factor this operating expense into her pricing structure?” 

Needless to say I don’t tend to feel particularly ‘special’ after purchasing my skin care products in this way and I can’t say I feel any loyalty to this particular business – all for an extra $0.10!

So this time I looked to the internet and you know what?  When I received my online purchases (postage free I might add) inside the box was a handful of samples AND a little card with ‘A sweet treat for you!’ and a chocolate stapled to it.  On the other side the little card said ‘$5 for you when you spend over $40 on your next visit’.   So to sum up:

  • Internet purchased products – arrived at my door, postage free, with samples, a thank you card with chocolate and a $5.00 incentive for me to shop again
  • Local business – face-to-face conversation & expertise but rarely offered samples and did I mention the $0.10 fee to use the eftpos machine?

Yep I’m aware of all the arguments for and against internet shopping and the last thing I want to do is lose the expertise of local businesses when they can’t compete against online shopping prices BUT it really is time to come to the party.

You can no longer rely solely on your role as an ‘expert’ in your area (veterinary, skin care OR hair care). 

In many cases Dr Google has taken over that role.  You have to be prepared to offer more.

You have to work out how you can make sure that every client that walks out of your veterinary (or beauty or hair) business feels special. 

For a hairdresser – every client should leave looking & feeling like a million dollars so why not offer a basic complimentary blow dry & style? (err... it’s also a fabulous opportunity to sell some of that ‘must have’ hair product that makes your hair so shiny!)

For a beauty therapist – every client should walk out feeling special with some samples, a treat or maybe a shopper’s reward (and NO petty $0.10 charges).

For a veterinary practice – well ..... you tell me!  A free organic dog biscuit or cat treat? A sample of pet food? A handout on a topic that’s current in your local area?  A photo in a frame of their 4 legged family member?  e.g. for less than $1/each you can buy a customised magnetic photo frame with a cut out section – the cut out section has all of your contact details, the photo frame can be updated with a new image each time a pet visits (keep these images on file and they’re also a great way to show the steady increase of a pet slowly putting on weight!)

I’m sure the ideas are endless on how you can make your clients feel special every single time they leave your business.  And a client that is feeling special is far less likely to quibble or complain about prices AND far more likely to tell all of their friends why you are so awesome!

Tell me in the comments section below how you make your clients feel awesome or share some ideas as to how other businesses have made you feel special.

Comments

Jon Manning @ Mar 14th 2014 8:42am
Great post. The hairdresser story reminds me of that VW ad that was running on TV not so long ago, where the barista asks the coffee drinker such things as "do you want a lid?" So many businesses need to ask themselves one simple question: How easy is it to buy my product or service? Better still, buy your own service and find out first hand!
LIz @ Mar 14th 2014 10:10am
We like to think we make everyone feel special, because they are. Our pets get a bandanna sprayed with either Adaptil or Feliway (happy juice is what we call it). All get home made liver treats, dogs may also get a free pigs ear to chew on whilst the humans talk. We have tea/coffee/biscuits/poppers for the human/adults too - great for stressed mums taking their kids to the vets - at least the kids are happy! This costs very little. I believe clients appreciate that you had thought about the visit from their perspective, and tried to make it less stressful all around. Let clients know that their time is important, you appreciate their patience.
Nancy Friedman Telephone Doctor @ Mar 14th 2014 2:17pm
Usually dont post notes for articles however this was exceptionally well written Am holding a Best Customer Service Experience Contest thru March - stories to be included in new book (tentative Title Satisfaction Guaranteed). 2 items. 1 Love to include this story with obvious proper credit 2. If you d like to post info about our contest please let know & will send link. Or you can view it on line at www.nancyfriedman.com Thanks. I can be reached at 314-291-1012. St louis Again well done. Thanks. Nancy
Judy @ Mar 19th 2014 12:26pm
Hey Jon - thanks for your comment - I was actually thinking of you as I wrote it & wondering what the 'Pricing Guru' would think!
Judy @ Mar 19th 2014 12:28pm
Hi Liz. I totally agree - it's amazing what you can add to the experience for very little $ and how much of an impact it can make to your clients. I just don't understand why more businesses don't get it?
Judy @ Mar 19th 2014 2:12pm
Thank you Nancy for your kind words! I've sent you an email :) Judy
Kaye Browne @ Mar 20th 2014 7:33am
Great article Judy...and a reminder that it's not about how great the provider is... but rather how great they make the recipient FEEL.
Belinda @ Mar 20th 2014 5:01pm
Great article Judy! Made me think. We offer to email our clients or post a picture of their pets on Facebook when they board with us. Our clients love it. Our kennel hand writes a little note about how they have settled in and how they are going.
Judy @ Mar 21st 2014 7:25pm
Thanks Kaye - it really is all about the feelings isn't it? That's what can make great customer service such a challenge!
Judy @ Mar 21st 2014 7:26pm
Thanks Belinda - we all love to see pictures of our fur babies don't we? It really is the little things that can make so much of a difference :)

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