Kiss the dog and 4 more ways to improve client compliance (without saying a word)

Kiss the dog and 4 more ways to improve client compliance (without saying a word)

What kind of veterinarian do you appear to be? Start being the kind of doctor you would want working on your pets.
May 01, 2012

I've read many an article describing what I need to say to clients to improve compliance. I changed the name of the estimate to "treatment plan." I increased the time I spend teaching clients about their pet's symptoms and tests needed to establish diagnosis. I even laid a foundation of verbal dialogue within my discharge instructions to improve rechecks and follow-up treatments. These strategies take time and I haven't seen the results I was promised. So, because I'm a scientist and life is just one big experiment, I decided to stop doing things to improve client compliance and start being the kind of doctor I would want for myself.

I work in a high-volume, fast-paced, emergency and critical care referral center on Saturdays and Sundays. Most of the clients will only see me once. Their pet is often in a critical situation and they're distraught. I have very little time to talk. My job is to build a client-patient-doctor relationship full of trust in a matter of seconds. Over the years, I've become so good at this my colleagues now send me their toughest clients—the ones who yell, the ones who don't want to pay, or the ones who are hot because they waited more than 60 seconds in the reception area. My secret? Talk less.

You may read some of these tips and think, "There's no way this will work." Trust me: These tiny tweaks have resulted in tremendously improved compliance and some great client relationships. If you promise to at least give them a try, I'll share them with you.


Shake your client's hand—and shake hands firmly. As soon as I step into an exam room or approach pet owners, I always greet them with a good, strong handshake. Think about what a firm handshake says about you: confidence, guts, professionalism, support, care, respect, and trust.

See for yourself: Shake hands with 10 people. Are you more likely to trust the flimsy handshake or the firm one? This gesture alone speeds up the bonding process. We can connect on a deeper level in a matter of seconds. A firm handshake will help your clients believe in you and tell them they're in good hands. Therefore, they're more likely to move forward with your recommendations and the end result is overall improved client compliance.

Also be sure to look clients directly in the eyes when you meet them. Eye contact is an amazing way to instantly connect with another person. In her article "Building Confidence as a Lever for Success," Patricia Berger says, "A person can easily assess another person's self-confidence by engaging in eye contact. The eyes play a big role in making relationships, portraying sincerity, and building careers. In interviews the first impression plays an important role in the final selection. Making eye contact with the interviewer will make him or her see one's seriousness in getting the job."

So, who's your interviewer every day? The answer, my friend, is every one of your clients.