We’ve all heard the different statistics on good customer service experiences versus bad ones. There is one that has always stuck with me: “On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.” (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs). This statistic is the reason why so many vet offices spend hundreds and thousands of dollars trying to make a great first impression in order to convert a potential client into a loyal client. However, it is often the little things, that don’t cost a penny, that convert first time visitors to loyal clients.
I have been a pet owner almost my entire life. So I have visited my fair share of vet hospitals and animal emergency clinics. Which means, I have had amazing experiences in vet offices, as well as flat-out terrible experiences. Here are the top three customer service experiences I have had that have stood out over the years.
I remember visiting a vet office once and realizing after leaving the office that not a single person, from the front desk staff to the veterinarian, looked at my face at any point during the visit. The front desk staff greeted me and checked me out while staring at their computer screens, the veterinarian spoke to me while staring at his clipboard and the vet techs stared down at my dogs or at the examination table the entire visit. I visited that office only once and never went back.
On the other side of the coin, the first time I visited my current vet, my experience was one that could have turned me away forever. Because of an animal emergency and being short-staffed, my dogs weren’t seen until an hour past my appointment time. However, from the moment I arrived, I was greeted warmly and everyone that spoke to me maintained eye contact while conversing with me. It was a completely different experience and one that left an impression. I left feeling respected, heard and taken care and I had no problem scheduling my next appointment visit.
This is by far my favorite customer service skill that I have experienced from a vet office. Receiving a call from the veterinarian letting me know my dog has come out of surgery and how they are doing or having the veterinarian check in with a phone call a few hours after my dog has been discharged. I remember the first time I experienced this service from a veterinarian, I was so impressed I told some friends about it and within a week three friends changed their vet office over to mine.
You know what’s not fun? Showing up at the end of the day to pick up your pet from the vet office and walking into a crowded waiting room full of scheduled clients with their pets, other clients waiting to pick up their pets from surgery, and clients stopping by the office to pick up food or medication. The front desk staff is so busy answering the phone and a hurried vet tech brings you your pet and is gone before you even get a chance to ask any questions. What a completely different experience it would be for the client, as well as the vet office staff, if animal discharges were scheduled throughout the day. This would give the client an opportunity to speak to the veterinarian, if only for a brief moment, and would also reduce some of the chaos and stress of the end of the day.
Converting a potential customer into a loyal client doesn’t have to cost you any money if you employ simple and valuable techniques that stay with your client long after they have left your office. If you only spend your time, money and energy on getting customers in the door without working on keeping them, your practice will never grow, and may in fact start losing business. Take the time now to make these lasting and effective changes in your practice and you will see how quickly your efforts are rewarded.