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Once upon a time.... Except this is real life!

Posted in Client Service @ Jun 4th 2016 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Good service, bad service - Your choice

The following is a story of two veterinary practices, in the same neighbourhood, offering similar services but with two very different client service outcomes.... 

This is a true story....only the names have been change to protect the.... well not so much ‘innocent’ but to protect some from embarrassment.

I received an email from a friend who knew I would be interested in her recent experiences with two different veterinary practices. 

We’ll call my friend ‘Jane’ and her dog ‘Nancy’.

Jane had been taking Nancy to a veterinary practice (we’ll call it ABC Vet Practice) that was close to her home.  Nancy had suffered from mites since she was a puppy and they were proving hard to eradicate.  ABC Vet Practice insisted she keep bringing Nancy in and continue with the treatment of injections and scrapes which Jane felt was becoming very costly and didn’t seem to be working.  Not only that, but every time she visited she saw a different vet – none of whom seemed to have much knowledge of Nancy’s history. Even worse it took a chance meeting with a friend of mine for Jane to begin to understand Nancy’s condition after my friend emailed her an eBook on mites.

Then one fateful Sunday Jane’s other dog (we’ll call her Marie) had a ruptured anal gland (eww!) and as ABC Vet Practice wasn’t open Jane ventured slightly further from home to find a veterinary hospital that was open on a Sunday (we’ll call it 123 Veterinary Hospital).

Jane was impressed from the very beginning with how helpful the staff were at 123 Veterinary Hospital.  They were happy to see Marie straight away and not only were the staff lovely and friendly but the treatment seemed much better value than that at ABC Vet Practice.

The following Tuesday Marie needed to see the vet yet again (for another reason) and so Jane contacted 123 Veterinary Hospital. She was pleased to find out that not only could she see the same vet as she saw on Sunday but he actually stayed on at work a little later when he could easily have passed the consult to another vet.

Hmmm... the plot thickens.....

Two days later Jane received two letters in the mail – one from ABC Vet Practice and one from 123 Veterinary Hospital.

The letter from 123 Veterinary Hospital was a welcome pack that contained a lovely welcome letter, vouchers to use at her next visit, service brochures and some magnets – nice!

The letter from ABC Vet Practice was a reminder notice that Nancy was due for her yearly heart worm vaccination...1 MONTH AGO!  Seriously... I’m not joking.  Jane received a reminder letter asking her to make an appointment for Nancy for her annual heartworm vaccination that was 1 MONTH LATE!

Jane’s email to me ends with:

Needless to say we are very happy with 123 Veterinary Hospital and will keep going there!

I decided to also do a little research on both veterinary practices:

ABC Veterinary Practice


It took a while but I finally tracked down a website. It was very basic with absolutely no images of the actual veterinary practice and under the ‘Meet Our Team’ tab there was only ‘No Staff found’

True story!

Facebook page:

Facebook Page?  What Facebook Page?

123 Veterinary Hospital


Home page gives a brief history and then goes on to list how they ensure happy clients.  It also lists the number of awards they have won for business achievements that recognise their expert, friendly staff and commitment to caring for animals and providing top quality service.

The photo gallery showcases their facilities and earns extra points for the images including smiling staff and cute animals!

The ‘Staff’ page is chockablock full of images of staff including their biographies.

Ok to be fair there are a few section on the website that haven’t been completed but overall there is quite a bit of information.

Facebook Page:

With over 500 ‘Likers’, it looks nice and active with posts nearly every day.  It has lots of cute images and although it could do with a few more educational type posts, overall there is lots of interaction with their ‘Likers’.

So what's the moral of this story?

If you want to keep your clients you have to give them good service!

If you want to keep your clients you have to offer them value for money! (Note:  this doesn’t mean you have to be the cheapest, it does mean your clients need to feel they are receiving good value for the money they pay)

If you want to keep your clients AND have them tell their friends how fabulous you are you have to provide a high quality service – face-to-face & online.

I’m really not writing this to embarrass ABC Vet Practice – I’m sure they’re really nice people who work hard and care for animals.  It’s just a shame that all their hard work is not paying off because of some pretty basic problems.

So where does your veterinary business stand?

Is your veterinary business like ABC Vet Practice?  You’re working really hard but clients still seem to be leaving.

Or is your veterinary business like 123 Veterinary Hospital?  You’re working hard and your clients are so pleased they encourage all their friends to visit you as well.

And how do you know for sure which category you’re in???

Ok – now it’s your turn.  What do you think?  Am I being too tough?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below.


Rhys Hayward @ May 10th 2013 9:11am
You're definitely not being too tough Judy! Customer service is a basic skill that many of us seem to lack and it is SO important in our competitive industry. Just promise me you won't look to closely at my website and Facebook page!
Judy @ May 10th 2013 11:02am
Thanks Rhys. But where's your sense of adventure? Now let me just open up Google... what was your practice name again? ;-)
lisa @ May 15th 2013 9:14am
It's so often the little "moments of truth" that make all the difference. It's what happens when we treat the pet and not the people, and, unfortunately, so easy to forget to look at things from an "outsiders" perspective. Put it all together and our care and passion shine through, get careless and the only people who know how much we care are our families.
Liz @ May 15th 2013 9:29am
I recently had a similar experience. I had been taking my dogs to a local clinic for a number of years despite not being entirely happy with the level of service nor care my animals received. The final straw came on a Monday afternoon when I was told they have no appointments available to see my dog which was having trouble breathing, "Can you bring her in Thursday, we have appointments available then" It was not the first time, emergency care had been refused. My new vet is a little bit further away but they are superb. When one of the dogs underwent surgery to complete what the first vet should have done, I had a phone call a couple of days later, checking on her recovery. I was astounded, as not once had the other vet ever called. I love it that every phone conversation begins with them asking after my animals. It shows the depth of care that the vet and in fact all the clinic staff feel for their patients. I know where my business will be staying
Judy @ May 15th 2013 9:47am
Thanks Lisa - I think you've really got to the heart of the problem - too many practices are treating just the pet and not the people! I think that explains brilliantly why so many practices seem to struggle with the concept of adding value to their services. You've inspired me to write another blog topic exploring the topic - unless you'd like to write one? Guest bloggers are always welcome at Vetanswers! :)
Judy @ May 15th 2013 9:50am
Thanks Liz - I'm so pleased you've found a veterinary practice you're truly happy with :) It's amazing how long we put up with ordinary service for the sake of convenience until we have a "Hang on a minute!" moment. I hope you don't mind but I've been inspired to write a follow up blog post & I'd love to quote your experiences!

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