The Professional Client
Whilst you’re behind the scenes, do you know what is happening on the front stage?
As a practice manager/partner/owner a lot of your time is taken up in the office, consult room, theatre etc., do you know what type of care the client is receiving when in the waiting room?
I have self-labelled myself as a professional client, I have 12 years’ experience in veterinary customer care and my current ‘9-5’ is as a veterinary pharmaceutical sales rep and I run Chunk Training alongside this.
You’ll notice my working hours are in inverted commas, as I am sure you are aware, if you work in the industry, there is no such things as a 9-5, even for us reps, honest!
Being a rep I spend a good deal of my time in the waiting room and on the phone to veterinary practices. Some of the front of house care I have seen/heard/experienced is verging on the side of shocking.
- A client asked about making a claim on the pet insurance and was given the following answer from the receptionist.
‘If you just fill this form in, the insurance company will pay out and I can see that your pet had diarrhoea three months ago so you may as well try and claim for that too’.
- A client came in asking for advice on flea, tick and worm treatment. The receptionist then handed over a well know flea and tick tablet and explained that it would control some worms too.
- A client’s dog is slowly declining and has just finished a consult with the vet and is waiting to be given some medication. The receptionist told the client that her dog had similar problems and so she had her dog put to sleep.
These are just a few examples of things I have heard/seen in practice. As a professional client and millennial I found it very hard not to speak out and explain the mistakes that had been made.
I know some see us reps as a pest but I commonly call a practice and simply say ‘Hi, please could I speak to Mr Smith’ (by this point the receptionist has no idea I am a rep and for all they know, I am a valued client) the reply from the receptionist does then vary but a common variation is ‘hang on!’ and the phone goes silent. Somewhere between a few moments and minutes later the receptionist picks up my call and I get told ‘he’s busy’. No apology, no willingness to help and no way forward for a potential client.
Now, if I was a client in the above situation I would be very unimpressed and would probably seek out a new practice, just over a few words exchanged between myself and the receptionist. I’d like to take this opportunity to confirm that a good majority of the front of house staff I communicate with are lovely and helpful towards myself and clients but it begs the question ‘have I lost any loyal clients/potential clients due to poor customer care?’
The point I think I am trying to make is that many practice staff out there do need training, some more than others and it may be that the owner of the practice is completely unaware as they have bigger fish to fry (or dogs to ex lap, cats to express or cows to TB test).
With associations such as BVRA (British Veterinary Receptionist Association) now aiding the industry, it is being more and more recognised that front of house staff are critical to a practice’s health.
Always remember you are a private business with competition all around, sometimes this competition can be within yards of your front door. I live in a small city and have 4 practices along the same road with 1.6 miles between the first and last.
Ask yourself what sets you above your competitors? It could well be the first impression the client gets. If the first impression is poor, they will not progress to a loyal client.
Chunk Training provides front of house staff training including personalised clinical modules (flea, neutering and vaccines protocols) and we also offer training to vets that the vet schools seem to forget about such as bereavement and compliance training. All of the training is online and can be stopped/started at will, so that the learner can progress at their own pace. We also offer free trials to give you a feel for what we do. Check us out at http://www.chunktraining.co.uk/