As you become familiar with their pets, lifestyle, and preferred veterinary care level, a long-term client can be a gift–similar to a lifelong friend. When you build a strong client relationship–growing in trust and respect–your practice’s profitability increases, as does your opportunity to provide better patient care through accepted recommendations. To begin developing long-lasting bonds with your clients, follow our StringSoft team’s tips.
#1: Show your human side
Although your clients are likely unaware of the academic rigor required to become a veterinarian, they want their pets’ caregivers to be people with whom they can connect. So, let your human side shine through by sharing anecdotes about your own pets and family, making eye contact, showing emotion, and offering hugs, handshakes, and condolences when the situations arise. Being approachable and exhibiting a pleasant bedside manner help you cement your bond with clients, and ensure they continue entrusting their pet’s care to your kind, caring veterinary team.
#2: Manage your schedule effectively
Clients become fed up with your veterinary practice if they have to wait days for their pet’s appointment, only to wait hours if your team is running behind that day. Take a hard look at your clients’ wait time–from the moment they enter the lobby, to the time they check out. Consider these common workflow inefficiencies:
- Ringing phone lines — If your customer service representatives (CSRs) are always on the phone, they cannot help the clients at the front desk. Consider outsourcing your phone calls to a veterinary answering service, encouraging clients to perform as many tasks as possible through an app or client portal, or hiring a team member whose sole responsibility is answering the phone.
- Overbooked appointment schedule — If you have booked three ain’t doing rights (ADRs) during one appointment slot, and your next client has to wait two hours before their pet has their routine wellness appointment, you have one disgruntled pet owner on your hands. Although you feel a responsibility to provide immediate care to sick pets, do not overbook your schedule. Block out ample time for same-day illness appointments, and schedule a limited number of daily wellness visits. To help maximize your caseload and prevent clients’ frustration, offer drop-off and telemedicine appointments.
- Slow payment processing — Invoice generation and payment processing can be time-consuming. However, through innovative practice management software you can speed up the task. Charges can be automatically populated as you fill out medical records, and clients can pay their invoice through a client portal or app.
#3: Cater to your veterinary clients’ needs
To forge a strong bond with your clients, take the time to listen to their needs and concerns, and to answer their questions fully. Help your clients feel valued by using open body language, making eye contact, and sitting down to chat. Truly listen to your clients, because they oftentimes suggest great ideas on how to improve your patient care and client service. Discuss clients’ recommendations with your team members, who may know just how to put those ideas in practice.
#4: Make pet care more accessible
In today’s world, everyone’s to-do list is overloaded. Included in your clients’ responsibilities are their pets’ vaccinations, exams, prescription refills, and other essential veterinary care, and they often forget to schedule or call until business hours have ended. Help your clients request their pet’s veterinary services on their own time by offering them access to a client portal through which they can:
- View vaccination history and reminders
- Request prescription refills
- View and request appointments
- Review cost estimates and invoices
- Submit payments
- Message the veterinary team
By using a client portal, your clients can quickly and easily complete their pet-care administrative tasks. When your veterinary practice makes administrative pet-care tasks as easy as possible, your clients will continue to return because your team offers the convenience of upgraded technology.
#5: Skim each patient’s medical record before their veterinary appointment
Before an appointment with a patient who has a complicated history, ensure you review their medical record. Taking the time to refresh your memory regarding a patient’s diagnosis and treatments—successful and ineffective—goes a long way toward demonstrating how important your client and their pet are to you. This step is essential when you have been a pet’s primary veterinarian, because, in your client’s eyes, their pet is your most important patient, and they expect you to be well-versed in their beloved companion’s medical history.
Quickly scanning a patient’s complex chart can be a real challenge when using some practice information management systems (PIMS). Therefore, upgrading your software to a more intuitive, easy-to-search program can greatly improve your efficiency and client care. Schedule a demo to learn how StringSoft can make a positive difference in your veterinary practice.