3 Ways to Create the Ultimate Client Experience
Creating the ultimate client experience is a team sport that begins before the client even sets foot in your practice. The client's first impressions and first communications with you will form their opinion of your practice — so it's up to you to guide that experience in the most positive way possible. How can you put your best face forward to create that lasting relationship?
Impress With First Impressions
Many veterinary clients begin the journey to find a practice online, and by the time they contact you, they will already have a sense of what they think your practice will be like, based on your presence there. Whether it is your client reviews, website, or social media posts, remember that these are like digital brochures: They are a reflection of your practice, so they should be positive, visually pleasing, informative, and inspire action.
When clients call the practice, the phones should be answered promptly and in a professional and friendly manner; this will make a first impression that much more positive, and your existing clients will appreciate it, too. A few other ways to ensure a proper first impression are:
- Train your team to personalize calls by using the client's and pet's names whenever possible.
- Connect with and engage the client in conversation that will lead to the scheduling of an appointment for their pet.
- Ask questions and clarify any information the client shares.
Keep in mind that what you consider a routine visit might be quite stressful for the client — for them, it's anything but routine. Inspire confidence that they made the right decision in calling you. You can do this by acknowledging the client's concerns, answering their questions, and thanking them for calling. Keep detailed notes in the appointment scheduler so that the team will know what to expect when the client arrives.
Plan Ahead With a Personal Touch
Veterinary practice efficiency is essential in creating a positive and memorable client experience. Clients' lives are busy, so it is important that they know you value their time. Whether it is an existing client or a new client coming to your practice for the first time, appointment flow is part of that efficiency. The last thing you want is a long wait time for clients. Overbooking is generally the cause for extended wait times. Below are a few steps to help you avoid overbooking.
- Pay attention to the appointment scheduler and scheduling protocols.
- Train your team on how and when to schedule routine and problem-related appointments so that clients can be served efficiently.
- Managers can help by adding in "same day" or "urgent care" appointment blocks to accommodate the clients who need to get in ASAP.
Be prepared for every visit. This means reviewing the appointment scheduler in your practice management software throughout the day so that you know who is coming in and why. You should never have to ask, "Who do we have here?" or "How can we help you?" You already know why the client is coming in based on information provided during the scheduling of the appointment. Establish protocols so that the chart and any authorization or information-gathering forms are readily available or prepared in advance. That way, when the client arrives, there is no need to ask questions and start from the beginning again. Acknowledge the client and pet when they arrive, confirm the reason for the visit, and continue the original information-gathering conversation throughout the visit.
Communicate With Care
Communication and information-sharing are important steps in creating a positive client experience. There are many hand-offs during a typical visit to a veterinary practice. Make sure each one is managed appropriately. Whether it is the client service representative or a technician who walks the client to the exam room, have a plan. Who will be responsible for client communication each step of the way as they move through the practice during the visit? It's important to do the following:
- Keep the client in the communication loop and let them know who or what to expect along the way.
- Each team member involved in the visit, including the veterinarian, should be able to continue the conversation rather than ask questions that have already been answered.
- Document your conversations and communicate with each other at each transition point. Utilize your practice management software, white board, or any other communication tools you have available.
When the services have been provided, medications explained and demonstrated, and the visit is complete, escort the client to the front desk for the final hand-off. Communicate the next steps needed so that the receptionist can complete the visit. This will include answering any further questions, reviewing the final invoice, and scheduling any follow-up appointments.
Your goal is to provide the best care for the patient and a positive experience for the client throughout the visit. A great experience requires teamwork and communication. Everyone on the team plays an important role in creating a first and lasting impression; make sure it's the one you want.