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The key to delivering excellent customer service in your veterinary practice

Posted in Client Service @ Apr 6th 2017 - By Deb Render, CCG
The Key To Delivering Excellent Customer Service In Your Veterinary Practice

How true is the saying that ‘you never get a second chance at making a first impression’

Veterinary receptionists are the frontline troops of the veterinary practice.  They are seen as, and are responsible for, the image that your practice portrays to current and potential clients.  They provide the first point of interaction, deliver the first example of your customer service standards and are your products sales team all rolled into one.   

They perform the role of marketer, merchandiser, counsellor and relationship manager.

So how much value do you place on those out on the front line? 

What training are they armed with to excel, and in turn, increase profits for the practice?  The world is changing and so is the customer’s ‘service experience’ – being just satisfied is no longer good enough. 

Consider these areas as part of the role of a highly-effective veterinary receptionist…

There’s no doubt about it – your reception team are your image management specialists. They are usually the first point of contact on the phone, when a client walks through the door and when they communicate with organisations and associations in the industry.  They are also usually the interior designers and decorators and cleaners for the waiting room.   

Veterinary receptionists need to know how much of an impression they make on their clients.

Walk through your practice together as if you were a new client. What do you see? The receptionist, as the image management specialist should ensure that the overall impression is that of a professional, clean and inviting environment. The reception area should be tidy, and the receptionist in neat attire preferably with a name badge. A good receptionist should also take the time to regularly come out from behind the counter to take note of cleanliness, smell and the client’s perspective. You may not see under merchandising stands from the reception area but a seated client can.  

Overall, the receptionist should be aware of the ambience and decoration in the waiting room.

It’s not just about whether posters are tatty or products dusty, but what posters, pictures and charts DO you have on the wall … do they need to be there? Think about a room in your house you can relax in.  What does it look like? Why do you find it relaxing? Considering clients entering our practices are often under a great deal of stress, why not apply these principles to your own practice and let your receptionist manage the image you choose to portray.  

Your receptionist should be your communication and relationship specialist.  Aside from the impression they make on new clients, they should also be firmly committed to maintaining and building on relationships with existing clients. A huge part of marketing is about building and extending relationships we have with our clients.  

Let’s get smarter about our clients.

Get out there and talk to them, establish ongoing feedback systems that have a variety of methodologies. 

Let’s get smarter about our relationships.

Make sure our relationship with our clients is part of our whole customer service system.

Clients are people, they are human, and they want a connection where things like trust, respect and caring matter.

Whether is it by phone, email or in person, they want to feel good about doing business with us. They want to trust that you and your reception team will deliver on what you promise.

A good receptionist should maintain a flawless communication style, and be able to adapt their body language, tone, pitch and daily timetable to make each client feel they are the most important person in that moment.  A good receptionist will take the time to find out the client’s story and regularly stop each day and ensure they are ‘engaging’ in meaningful interactions and truly listening.   

Have you ever thought about what TYPE of clients you would like to attract to your practice, and therefore what products, services and marketing systems will stimulate their interest? 

Have you shared your business or marketing plan with those who will implement your objectives through front of house sales and interactions?

Involving receptionists in the planning and direction of the practice is an excellent way of communicating the priorities of day to day routines. A receptionist will often provide invaluable information as to what products are sold most regularly, what items clients regularly ask after and what trends are appearing in pet ownership.

Similarly, when you decide on new products or services (such as puppy preschool), your receptionist should be able to competently plan, demonstrate and display this product and information. A thorough understanding of merchandising principles goes a long way in achieving sales. 

Additional skills, training and responsibilities can empower receptionists to make a real difference to the long term achievements of your veterinary practice.

If you have questions for Deb just ask them in the Comments section below.

About Deb

Deb has almost 30 years experience in the veterinary industry, having worked in a variety of roles during that time. Deb is passionate about delivering outstanding customer service and helping others to do the same. She has presented numerous seminars for Crampton Consulting on customer service topics.

Click here to visit the CCG Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory


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