4 ways to bond veterinary clients to your practice
As a veterinarian and practice owner I’m a big proponent of fully utilizing our staff. Let the doctors focus on diagnosing, surgery, and prescribing medications; the team can and should be able to do the bulk of the other work. But even though I feel strongly that veterinarians should spend their time on those things only they can do, we all get busy and need to lend an extra hand to a hard-working team member. In those instances, don't neglect the chance to a wow a client.
So, here are a few ways you should squeeze in a little face time—or phone time—to show clients you care. Pet owners appreciate when they hear from the veterinarians and see us. If you find yourself doing any of the following tasks, consider taking advantage of those few extras moments with clients:
1. Surgery/dental drop-off
Now: Technician or veterinary assistant admits surgery patient, and the client doesn’t see the doctor.
Alternative: Technician or veterinary assistant admits pet and goes over paperwork, then the doctor greets clients and visits briefly to see if they have any additional questions or concerns about procedure.
Yes, I know it's convenient to do drop-offs with the doctor, because we often need pets to come in earlier than the veterinarians because of surgery prep work. An alternative could be to do the drop-off without doctor, but ask the doctor to contact the client after the pre-surgery exam to touch base and see if there are any additional questions or concerns. Keep in mind, when it comes to you and me in the hospital, we expect to see the physician both pre- and post-surgery!
2. Surgery discharge
Now: Technician, veterinary assistant or receptionist discharge surgery and dental patients, while the doctor sees other clients.
Alternative: Doctor does a quick hello with the client and reassures them that the procedure went as planned, either before or after the team member delivers the full discharge instructions. The doctor can advise them to contact the clinic with any questions or concerns.
3. Follow-up calls
Now: Follow-up calls are crucial to practice success, including next-day callbacks for all appointments and surgeries as well as any special calls for other cases. We routinely program these into the practice software and assign the calls to our technicians and receptionists.
Alternative: Doctors keep their own call backlog for the more involved medical cases and follow up on these personally. I keep a list in my e-mail files that I modify as I add or delete cases. Most of the time I still leave the follow-up calls in the computer call log, in case I don’t get a chance to call the client prior to that, so I’m sure someone at the practice reaches out to them. But they never mind an extra call from the doctor.
4. Laboratory result callbacks
Now: Technicians call clients with normal laboratory results and minor abnormalities.
Alternative: If time permits, a nice touch is for the doctor to hop on the phone and do a quick hello: “All's good with Bob’s lab work. See you in two weeks for your recheck.” This is just another way to get contact with a pet parent. We used to follow the “no news is good news” approach with fecals and heartworm tests that went to the lab, but not anymore! We now give clients these results when the team does the follow-up call the day after their visit.
By all means, let's use our team members' skills to the fullest. But at the same time, make room for the “personal” touch for client relationships. This doesn't mean being everyone's best friend—keep it professional and focused—but you need to prioritize time with clients and differentiate your practice from the many that don’t take the time to build the bond.