If your practice's client service moments aren't perfectly polished and you figure your customer service techniques might
have a screw loose, you've hit the nail on the head. Customer service is making a comeback in the retail sector—and your veterinary
clinic needs to pay attention.
Case in point: I recently visited a Home Depot, and as I shopped, no fewer than four people came up to me and asked if I needed
help. A few months ago, I was at the same store and couldn't find a single person to help me. On a recent stay at a Marriott
hotel, I checked in and the clerk came around the desk, handed me my room key, and escorted me to the elevator.
Businesses are learning that if they want to survive the recession, they must stand out from the crowd. And many are choosing
to do that by ramping up their customer service. You can, too.
The key is to provide service that customers value. But first, you need a solid understanding of what clients experience at
your hospital. To find out, you'll need to look for leaks and cracks in your team training foundation. It's time for a customer
service audit through a phone shopper review and a mystery shopper visit.
TIGHTEN THE RINGS
A phone shopper review is fairly simple, and you can do it yourself or hire a company to do it for you. Have someone call
the practice as a normal pet owner would and ask questions about one of your services, such as a spay or neuter. After the
call, have your phone shopper answer these questions:
> How friendly did team members come across on the phone?
> Did they ask the pet's name and the owner's name?
> Did they show a genuine interest in the caller and the pet?
> Did they ask at the end of the call whether the caller would like to make an appointment?
You can also conduct ongoing evaluations of your team's phone etiquette by using a voice-activated recorder on your phone
lines, as many other businesses do. You've likely called a customer service number and heard, "This conversation may be recorded
for quality control purposes." Inform your team that you're doing this, and place that message on your hold system so clients
are aware, too. Team members should treat every call as if it were being recorded and evaluated.
GET A THIRD-PARTY INSPECTION
Using a mystery shopper is a little more complicated but just as important. Once again, you can do this yourself or hire an
agency that provides mystery shopper services. If you do it yourself, have someone—maybe a friend or relative who's not known
by the practice—come in for an annual pet wellness visit or a dental cleaning, for example. After the visit, the mystery shopper
> the initial telephone call
> the receptionist's greeting when he or she entered the practice
> the physical environment of the practice
> how the exam room assistant and the doctor treated the mystery shopper and his or her pet.
Provide your shopper with a form to fill out regarding the experience and discuss it at the next team meeting. (To download
a form you can use in your practice,
http://veterinaryteam.dvm360.com/firstline/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/608558.) Again, your team won't know exactly when a mystery shopper will walk in the door, but let them know one could come at any