Learning how to master your veterinary consult isn’t just about getting more customers into the clinic – it’s about delivering better results for the pets already in your care.
It can enable you to deliver complex medical information in a simple way, improve the level of uptake of your recommendations, as well as make the process of having difficult conversations with pet owners a little easier.
During a session at the recent virtual event The Vet Expo, Dr Claire Stevens, experienced vet and owner of Global Vet Solutions shared 7 Secrets Behind Mastering the Perfect Consult.
Watch the video here if you missed her session or read on to find out more about the 7 questions you should ask yourself when running a consult:
Question 1: Are you making a good first impression?
We’ve talked about why this matters on the phone, but did you know that it is just as important when a patient comes through the door?
Making a good first impression means checking how you greet the client when they first come into the waiting room, being aware to smile and nod, remembering the pets name and giving clients the space to talk freely about what is happening with their pet.
Question 2: Are you being empathetic?
Empathy is important because its key to building rapport. When someone is empathetic towards us it enhances our likelihood of being open and receptive to what they have to say – a very valuable skill for a vet who wants to increase client compliance with recommendations for pet care.
You can show empathy through verbal elements such as saying comforting words, as well as non-verbal cues such as a smile or a nod in response to a client concern.
Question 3: Have you been summarising?
It’s easy to get carried away with jumping into a diagnosis, but summarising is a useful way to show your client you’ve listened and enables you to cross check if you have interpreted the pet’s issue correctly.
Question 4: Do your clients have a sign post?
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Walking into a consult, it’s easy to feel lost and confused about what’s going on. Signposting means giving clients an explicit statement about what you are about to do as part of the consult process. For example, “First we will talk about what’s going on with Sammy, then I will examine him and we can talk about ways to treat the problem.”
Question 5: What language are you using?
Unleashing a whole host of complex medical jargon isn’t going to increase the chances that a client will comply with your recommendations – in fact it can have the opposite effect if a client doesn’t understand what they have to do.
Ensure you are providing information in clear, bite sized chunks. Be mindful to check in at regular intervals when explaining to make sure your client understands and give them the opportunity to ask any clarifying questions.
Question 6: Are you using the right tone?
Remember no one likes a know it all or someone that comes across as too dominant or aggressive; keeping a calm, gentle and respectful tone goes a long way especially when dealing with angry or distressed clients.
Question 7: Have you deployed your safety net?
“Prepare for the unexpected” is the mantra of the medical world and it’s important that you have communicated possible outcomes of a pet’s treatment at the end of a consult.
For example, “If we are right, I’d expect the antibiotics to start having an effect in the next 2-3 days. However, if Fluffy is not improving we will need to look at doing some more tests.”
If you would like to know more about how to master your consult skills then you should definitely check out the 5 Pillars of the Perfect Consult masterclass.
This post was originally published on the VetCX Blog and has been re-published with full permission.
Dr Claire Stevens is the Founding Director of Global Vet Solutions, a training and CPD business, designed for practices looking to stand out, scale up and lead with compassion and purpose.
She has eleven years experience as a practicing veterinarian, has partnered in three veterinary practices and is passionate about leadership, life balance strategies and team culture.
She is the author of “Dr Claire’s Love Your Dog” the complete veterinary guide for caring for your canine friend. Her book is available in bookstores and veterinary clinics across Australia.