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Working with Difficult Clients in your Veterinary Practice

Posted in Client Service @ Jun 18th 2015 - By Deb Render, CCG/Provet
Working With Difficult Clients In Your Veterinary Practice V2

Demonstrating care and educating our veterinary clients is usually a rewarding experience but every so often situations can go wrong.

Learning to manage the experience of a difficult client is not easy and there is not one single technique that will work every time. There are however, skills that can be learned.

 We do know that difficult people and aggressive behaviours will never go away. Our clients have their own unique set of values, beliefs and opinions, coupled with the experiences that have shaped their lives. These lessons happen long before they walk through our doors. The important thing to remember is that each of us is responsible for our own behaviour. Moreover, as an employee in a customer service based industry, there is an added burden of responsibility regarding the client’s behaviour. This does not mean you are responsible for their behaviour – but you have a degree of responsibility in achieving a calm and successful interaction with a person who is not always rational or calm.  

Why Do People Become Difficult or Aggressive?

  • Practice inefficiency or inconsistency
  • Mismatching communication styles
  • They ‘do drama’
  • Mood of the day
  • Learning behaviours
  • Desire to be heard
  • Clashing values, expectations and beliefs
  • Psychological issues or compound issues

 The question is not, “How do I avoid these clients?” (because you never will!), but rather, “How do I manage the space between the client and I and maintain my composure?”

Tips to Control Our Emotions in Conflict Situations

  1. Identify your triggers and responses (some people go red, others shake). Half the battle is being self-aware and self-regulatory.
  2. Keep breathing! Interestingly, many of us actually stop breathing when faced with danger. Without vital oxygen, we are unable to control our flushing, shaking or get our pre-frontal cortex working.
  3. Engage in self-talk; an inner dialogue telling you to breathe and remain calm. Focus your thoughts.
  4. Don’t rush the situation – the more time you have, the more likely you are also able to overcome emotion and work with the client.
  5. Force yourself to handle difficult clients/complaints. Ask any Team Leader how they learnt to handle difficult clients? “I just did it” ... the more you do it, the less fearful you become of the process.

 Dealing with difficult clients is a customer service exercise. Dealing with difficult clients is never easy. However, with the right tools and scripts, all members of the practice team can learn to master these difficult situations. 

If you have a question you would like to ask Deb about working with difficult clients just ask her 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. Deb works for Crampton Consulting Group delivering customer service training and features as the lead presenter at the upcoming Customer Service Roadshow. Dates are available throughout Australia and New Zealand. 

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


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