Delivering excellent customer service at your veterinary care practice means providing high-quality care to animals while catering to the needs of pet parents, which isn’t always easy. Animal care requires compassion and expertise, but it’s great to also provide convenient access to care whenever possible with service experiences like short wait times, easy-to-use websites, online pharmacy requests, etc.
When you prioritize excellent vet customer service, your practice can improve pet owner loyalty, satisfaction rates, and referrals. At Weave, we offer an all-in-one vet software that helps practices improve patient experiences by making basic functionalities, like paying bills, scheduling appointments, or viewing a pet’s health record, convenient and intuitive.
Below, we discuss how you can deliver excellent customer service at your veterinary practice, how to improve a bad reputation, and when to fire negative customers.
Best Practices for Delivering Exceptional Customer Service
Great customer service goes beyond the veterinary medicine your staff provides. Try our tips below:
Greet Clients Warmly and Professionally
You want to make an excellent first impression on pet owners. When visitors enter your pet care practice, a staff member should immediately greet them with a warm welcome, showing them where and how to check in. An emergency animal hospital or urgent care may need a more thorough check-in process during this step to examine the animal’s condition and determine urgency.
Listen to Concerns
Attentive and empathetic listening to pets’ and pet owners’ concerns shows that you will work hard to resolve their issues. Avoid interrupting the conversation, and be sure to address any topics they bring up.
A great way to show that you’re listening to your clients is by asking open-ended questions. Questions show that you want to learn more about the issues to resolve them.
Yes or no questions can quickly end the conversation and may provide minimal information. For example, if you ask, “Has your dog thrown up recently?” and they answer no, you won’t learn much.
Instead, you can ask something like, “Has your dog displayed any signs of stomach issues?” They may respond that the dog hasn’t been eating well, which reveals valuable information regarding patient care.
Explain Diagnosis, Treatments, and Costs Clearly
Your clients aren’t veterinary professionals, so they won’t understand the plan for their furry friend unless you explain it clearly. Whether the treatment involves simple preventative care, like vaccines, or something more invasive, like surgery, you want to ensure that the owner understands everything. Try addressing the following critical points:
- Why their dog or cat needs this treatment (i.e., their diagnosis)
- How the animal will feel during and after the treatment (will they be in pain?)
- How long the treatment will take
- How to administer any involved medication courses
- How much everything will cost
- Future appointment requirements
- Any activities or foods the animal should avoid following the treatment
- If the patient has any other options, they should consider
Ask the customer if they have any questions before concluding the conversation. Make sure they fully understand the next steps before moving on.
Involve Clients in Decisions
The vet industry involves decision-making. Whether deciding on veterinary services, like teeth cleanings, or electing into surgeries, dogs, and cats cannot make these decisions, so you want to involve the owners instead.
To help clients make tough decisions, outline the advantages and disadvantages of all their options so they can understand each outcome. Sometimes, providing your professional opinion by saying something like, “If it were my own dog, I would do X,” can help guide the customer if they’re stuck.
Thank Clients for Choosing Your Practice
A simple thank you at the end of a visit can go a long way, showing how much you appreciate the opportunity to help their animal. You can conclude the conversation with calls to action, like “contact us with any questions” or “schedule your follow-up at the front desk.”
Bad Reputation for Customer Service? Here’s How to Improve it
Bad reviews are a part of owning any business. Unfortunately, a few bad impressions can quickly harm your practice’s reputation. If you develop a bad reputation for customer service, try these tips to boost patient opinions:
Celebrate Each Pet
Everyone believes their animal is the best. When you bring your beloved cat or dog to the veterinary hospital, you want the vet techs to treat them like they’re the sweetest and cutest animal they’ve ever seen.
Try encouraging your veterinarian staff to celebrate every patient with treats, new toys, bandanas, and other fun prizes. Use uplifting language and compliments that show how much you value each and every animal. Celebrating each animal makes every customer feel welcomed and special.
Treat Kids Who Come in with Their Pets
Children who have animals typically think the world revolves around their cat or dog. Bringing their furry friend to the vet is a big and often stressful day for any kid. Treating children with extra care helps them feel special and shows their parents how devoted they are to providing a stellar experience.
Try letting kids listen to their pet’s heart so they can feel involved. You can also let them pick out the treats or toys for their animal.
Follow-up calls or messages after an appointment show that you care about the animal’s condition. You can call to ask how they’re doing, how they’re responding to the treatment, and if the owner has further questions.
Avoid using the follow-up to schedule more appointments, as that may sound “salesy.” Instead, keep the focus on the animal. Try using specific details that you jotted down from the appointment, like the pet’s name, symptoms they were displaying, concerns the owner had, etc.
Inform Clients of Delays Ahead of Time
No one enjoys waiting for a pre-scheduled appointment. Unfortunately, delays happen all the time, especially in the veterinary industry, with surprise visits and sudden animal emergencies. To avoid a poor reputation from appointment delays, try monitoring your wait times and informing clients ahead of time so they know what to expect.
You can call clients before their scheduled arrival time to tell them to come in a bit later so they don’t have to wait in the office. If the customer is already there, keep them in the loop on when the appointment will start.
Read and Respond to Reviews
Your practice likely has numerous reviews, some positive and some negative. Responding to all reviews shows that you value customer opinions.
You can thank the positive reviews with a thorough message, then respond to the negative reviews, apologizing for what occurred. You may be able to reach out to the user so they can take the review down. Sometimes a simple misunderstanding can cause a bad review, though with a nice response, you can erase it.
Weave makes it easy to respond to reviews with a new tool, Response Assistant, which provides AI-generated suggestions for you to edit, approve, or reject. Reviews with responses generate more business—89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews.
9 out of 10 people check online reviews before choosing a business
Weave helps you easily collect and monitor reviews on Google and Facebook. These reviews can be some of the best marketing for your business.Schedule Demo
Use Technology to Communicate with Clients
Convenience is an enormous aspect of delivering excellent experiences. Customers expect modern experiences like digital payments and self-scheduling. Offering convenient tech platforms and communication options not only improves how your office operates but can boost your customer impressions.
We recommend considering the following features:
- IVR, or Call Tree services reduce wait times
- One-click communication, like Weave Texting, for easy payments, scheduling, etc.
- Review portals to promote your business and improve your reputation
- Online scheduling tools to help clients easily create their appointments
- Digital forms for fast and simple check-ins
- Video chats for virtual appointments
When and How to Fire a Client
Occasionally, you may have a customer who drags your business’ reputation in an unfair way. While you don’t want to refuse to care for an animal, you need to put your business first in certain scenarios. Learn when and how to fire a customer below.
Reasons to Fire a Client
A few reasons that your staff may choose to turn down service to one of your clients include the following:
- Unfulfilled payments: One or two missed payments may constitute a grace period, though failure to pay any bills will eventually result in refusal of service.
- Abusive behavior: If a customer treats your staff poorly with verbal or physical abuse, you can ask them to leave. While some clients may lash out with unexpected news, you shouldn’t allow any escalations toward the staff, other clients, or other patients.
- Non-compliance: As a veterinary clinic adhering to the American Animal Hospital Association or other organizations, you follow certain standards. If a customer refuses to follow your rules, placing your organization at risk, you cannot continue serving them.
- Unrealistic expectations: Some clients may have extreme expectations, and if you do not fulfill them, they will slander your name. In this case, you may need to fire them.
Steps to Firing a Client
If you decide to fire a customer, follow these steps to protect your practice’s best interests and reputation:
- Document all issues that occurred so the customer understands why they cannot receive service.
- Send a formal letter or have a formal discussion to inform the customer.
- Provide referrals to other clinics they can visit.
- Transfer their records to the new clinic.
- Stay professional, polite, and firm during the process.
- Maintain all records for future purposes in case any issues arise.
Elevate Your Patient Experience with Weave
Providing excellent patient experiences at your vet clinic involves dozens of factors, from your outward-facing care to your internal technology suite. At Weave, we offer an all-in-one platform that combines all of your clients’ needs into a convenient, easy-to-use tool for scheduling, reviews, payments, communication, pet records, and much more. Schedule a demo to see Weave in action today or call us at (866) 308-2039 to learn more.