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Understanding your veterinary clients

Posted in Client Service @ Jul 9th 2015 - By Deb Render, CCG/Provet
Put Yourself In Your Clients Shoes

Understanding our clients perceptions and expectations as they relate to customer service is vital.

What do they think of us, the care their pet receives and the customer service we deliver? How do we uncover the expectations they have of us, both as an individual and the practice as a whole? 

The difference between good customer service and great customer service is the focus and priority placed on understanding our clients.

Without understanding, we lack the tools to meet the needs of our clients and may not be given the opportunity to provide the best standards of care for our patients.

Client expectations are often based on two key factors:

  • The first is their personal values and beliefs developed throughout their lives.
  • The second is their perception of your practice based on how it supports and aligns to their personal values and beliefs.

Perceptions and expectations can be formed through personal past experience, and the experience of others with whom the client interacts.[1] All human beings learn to value different things and as we know, there is a broad spectrum of what constitutes ‘responsible pet ownership’. Values and beliefs generate attitudes and it is often the attitudes which determine expectations. A client who keeps a dog outside the house with minimal preventative health may perceive flea control as “expensive and unnecessary”. A young couple who treat their dog as a replacement child may have high expectations of their Veterinarian.

Different attitudes equal different perceptions and expectations.

Uncovering and managing client expectations is a critical skill in delivering excellent customer service. If a client appears to be dissatisfied it is often because their expectations were not met. Sometimes we become so wrapped up in our own work processes that we lose sight of the expectations a client holds of our practice.

To try and understand our clients' expectations, it may help to put yourself in your clients’ shoes.

What do you perceive to be good customer service? What would you want from your doctor or healthcare professional?

Often it is the fundamental ‘common courtesies’ such as:

  • Respect
  • Communication
  • Feedback
  • Honesty
  • Professionalism
  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Follow-through

The old adage "Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself" is definitely worth remembering when it comes to delivering customer service. However it is important never to assume that you know what the client sees, hears and feels. By establishing rapport and using effective questioning techniques we can better understand our clients expectations and identify their needs.

[1] Ray Miller. Customer Expectations vs. Customer Needs, from www.customerservicemanager.com

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. Deb works for Crampton Consulting Group delivering customer service training and features as the lead presenter at the Customer Service Roadshow s delivered throughout Australia & NZ during 2015. 

Click here to visit the Crampton Consulting Group Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory

 

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