A Pawsitive Customer Service Refresher for Veterinary Clinics

Just like medical procedures evolve, so should customer service best practices

In the bustling veterinary care environment, customer service plays a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being of both patients and their owners. A seamless and empathetic customer service experience fosters trust and loyalty and enhances vet clinics’ reputation. This trust builds a foundation that trickles down to every facet of patient care. Pet owners who feel heard and trusted are more likely to return to your clinic and comply with your recommended plan of care.

Talkatoo states, “A positive customer experience is the core of every successful business. Good customer service can keep clients coming back for years, while a single negative experience can be enough to send them looking elsewhere.”

When we say “customer service,” we’re not referring to customer complaints. We’re talking about a proactive approach to connecting with and serving pet owners in ways that make them feel comfortable and supported–you know, serving. Every touchpoint in the clinic has a customer service component. So whether you are a practice manager, a technician, a CSR, or a veterinarian, you are responsible for the customer experience.

This blog provides a quick customer service refresher for veterinary clinics, highlighting key strategies to create pawsitive experiences for staff, pet owners, and ultimately–pets!

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The crucial connection between customer service and veterinary care

In the complex world of veterinary care, the connection between customer service and the wellbeing of pets and their owners is both delicate and profound. Many modern pet owners consider pets members of the family. In some cases they are even considered as starters, or replacements for children. Because of this integral emotional bond that exists between pet and their human companions an emphasis on customer service in the veterinary clinic is critical. Veterinary care is not a simple transaction. Veterinarians are key pet owner educators, and are uniquely positioned to treat a pet for every healthcare concern they face for the entire duration of their lives. From puppy wellness visits to routine surgeries and end of life care, veterinarians ride the rollercoaster of emotions with pet parents during every stage of care. p Fostering understanding, trust, and compassion in this high-stress environment is crucial.

AVMA notes, “ By using specific words and phrases, we can build stronger and more trusting client relationships, increase compliance, and maximize patient outcomes. The more our clients trust us, the more receptive they are to our recommendations, and the more likely their pets are to get needed care.”

Customer service in a veterinary clinic acts as a compass, guiding pet owners through the journey of pet care with empathy and sensitivity. A pet isn’t just an animal; it’s a beloved member of the family. Each visit to the clinic carries a spectrum of emotions – from the excitement of a new puppy check-up to the anxiety of a sick cat. Exceptional customer service acknowledges and supports these feelings, offering a comforting presence that resonates far beyond the walls of the clinic.

Empathy is the cornerstone of this connection. A warm smile, a reassuring word, or a compassionate gesture can alleviate the anxiety of a worried pet owner. These small acts of understanding foster an environment of trust, allowing pet owners to feel confident that their cherished companions are in caring hands. Moreover, this trust extends beyond individual visits, culminating in long-lasting loyalty to the clinic as a result of consistently positive experiences.

Here are a few techniques to exercise empathy:

  • Ask pet owners if they are comfortable with what you have shared. Sometimes clinical conversations can be difficult to follow. Asking if they are comfortable gives them the opportunity to say they don’t understand or to share how they are feeling.
  • Read the room. If a pet owner looks distraught or uncomfortable–they probably are. Make them feel comfortable to share how they are feeling.
  • Create easy ways to connect after the visit. Sometimes in a time of emotional distress, pet owners may be uncomfortable saying how they are feeling for fear of crying. They may prefer to reach out via chat or another digital channel after the visit when they have had time to collect their thoughts.
  • Ask how you can help. Sometimes it’s hard to guess what people need, but you can always ask. Pet owners will see your effort and appreciate your support.

The outcome of well-executed empathy is not only pet owner loyalty–but also positive online reviews.

Why a refresher matters

90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company and making sure that you and your staff are continuously focused on customer service ensures the continued success and growth of your clinic. Customer service can’t be set on autopilot, even the most tuned-in veterinary teams need a forum for on-going training and discussions about customer service.

A customer service refresher training ensures that veterinary clinics remain attuned to evolving customer expectations and industry trends. For example, as expectations shift due to technological advancements and changing demographics, evolution of the customer experience is necessary. Taking a proactive approach to serving customers may include adapting communication to provide more personalized and consistent experiences across all communication channels (social media, email, chat, text, the phone, and in the office).

A customer service refresher training isn’t just about enhancing the client experience; it’s also a key factor in nurturing a clinic’s reputation and solidifying client relationships. Positive customer interactions contribute to word-of-mouth referrals and positive online reviews, establishing the clinic as a trusted and caring establishment. Moreover, investing in staff training boosts team morale and engagement, leading to a workforce that’s confident and comfortable handling delicate situations with finesse.

Key strategies for an effective customer service refresher

Empathy as the cornerstone: Start by fostering empathy among staff. Conduct workshops or role-playing sessions that allow team members to step into the shoes of pet owners. This helps staff understand the emotional rollercoaster clients might be on and enables them to respond with compassion. Remind staff that pet owners are just like them–people. Invite the staff to share examples of both challenging and rewarding client interactions for team discussion.

Effective communication training: Communication is the bridge between veterinarians, clients, and their pets. Enhance communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, through on-going coaching. Train staff to communicate complex medical information in a way that’s easily understandable, relieving client concerns. Remind staff to check in with pet parents often during these complex conversations to make sure they are understanding.

Personalized interactions: Every pet is unique, and so are their owners. Encourage staff to remember both pet AND owner names and make references to previous visits. Personal touches like sending ‘get well soon’ messages after a procedure or remembering a pet’s birthday can make a lasting impression. Make sure if there are multiple team members working with the pet parent on a single visit that the intneral staff is communicating. Nothing is more frusturating to a pet parent who is in distress than having to answer the same set of questions for multiple staff members.

Multi-channel accessibility: In today’s digital age, clients seek convenience, and they might be looking for it in different places than they used to. Modern pet owners have an expectation that they can connect with your clinic via social media, chat, email, and text. Ensure your customer experience extends to these new communication channels. Prompt responses across these platforms show dedication and accessibility. If you don’t regularly monitor your social media messages make sure you set up an auto responder that lets pet parents know the fastest ways to get in touch with your team such as text, email, or chat.

Managing challenging situations: Communicating with unwell pets and worried owners is an inevitable part of the job. Train staff to handle such situations with grace and patience. A refresher training can include techniques for calming pets and actively listening to owners’ concerns. Even if you are not a Fear Free clinic you may elect to implement some of the Fear Free methodology to reduce anxiety and stress.

Education and transparency: Equip all staff members who interface with customers with basic veterinary knowledge. When they can explain common procedures or aftercare instructions, it adds an extra layer of credibility and reassurance to clients. This also takes the burden off the clinical staff creating a healthier and more collaborative work environment.

Feedback loop integration: A refresher training should emphasize the importance of client feedback. Encourage clients to share their experiences, and use their feedback constructively to fine-tune your services continuously. If your clinic recieves constructive feedback and makes changes as a result of a poor client experience, celebrate the improvements you are making in response to the voice of your customer!

Measuring success

Gauging the success of a customer service refresher training transcends numerical KPIs. True success is manifested in how pets and their owners feel after they leave the clinic. When pets exhibit comfort, trust, and positive behavior during clinic visits – from wagging tails to contented purring – it’s a clear indication that the customer service experience is trickling down to the most critical stakeholder–the pet.

Client satisfaction metrics serve as a pivotal yardstick for success. Through feedback surveys, reviews, and direct conversations, a refresher training’s impact can be evaluated based on how effectively clients’ concerns are addressed and their questions answered. A satisfied client isn’t just an isolated transaction; it’s a building block for a lasting relationship that is rooted in trust and appreciation.

The success of a customer service refresher training extends to the clinic’s reputation and word-of-mouth endorsements. Positive experiences have a ripple effect, as clients who receive exceptional service become advocates, enthusiastically sharing their positive encounters with friends, family, and the digital community. This positive feedback loop not only indicates a successful refresher but also enhances the clinic’s standing in the hearts and minds of clients. Furthermore, the improved morale and performance of staff post-refresher is an essential factor, reflecting a workforce equipped to create meaningful connections and seamless experiences for both pets and their owners.

Book a Demo to Learn How Flow Can Enhance Your Customer Service Experience Inside Your Clinic