19 Feb How veterinary practices can deliver a ‘red carpet’ customer experience
At Moneypenny, we often talk about rolling out the ‘red carpet’ for our customers. What we mean is delivering the kind of service that makes everyone feel like your biggest and most important client. A VIP. It’s this experience that wows customers, and not only keeps them coming back but will ultimately grow a business and its reputation too. Stephanie Vaughan-Jones, Commercial Manager at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny, identifies five key ways that veterinary practices can deliver a ‘red carpet’ experience for their clients…
- Take a walk in your clients’ shoes
With owners and their pets at the front desk, staff in and out of appointments and the phone ringing before you even open the doors – it can be difficult to stay on top of it all in a busy veterinary practice.
Competition, however, is on the rise and clients both deserve and expect the very best experience. So, if you do just one thing, make it this: step into your clients’ shoes. Mystery shop your own practice, look at everything objectively and become your own client. Call your reception, send an email, use your website, get in touch on Twitter, send a friend into your practice in person. Think of every possible touchpoint there is for your practice and see how it works and how it feels.
Take note of any areas you were proud of and any areas that could be improved. What impressed you? What would you think if you were a new or existing client? However busy you are, the insights that you’ll gain from taking time to do this will be worth their weight in gold.
- The little things are the big things
Long after people have forgotten what’s been said or done, they will remember how they were made to feel. In the veterinary sector – where emotions can often run high – this is particularly true. That’s why the little things can so easily become the big things. Remembering a patient’s name, for example, and that of their pet can make a huge difference. Or using their preferred method of communication and taking the time and care to listen and address any concerns they may have.
Customers want to be nurtured, to feel special so aim to surprise and delight clients at every opportunity. These small touches of expertise, understanding, kindness and consideration make a huge difference and more often than not are the very things that inspire customers to share their experience with others. By going above and beyond, you aren’t just impressing one person, but an infinite number of people in the future too.
- Consistency is King
As with many things in life, good things come to those who wait. That includes winning the trust of your clients. It may take a number of positive encounters with a practice before a consumer begins to trust them. Successful practices understand this. They know that customer service is a long game; that the benefits won’t always be apparent overnight, but that building loyalty and strong client relations is the key to long-term success. They also appreciate that relationships like these are built through steady and consistent service at every point of contact.
So, think of your own practice and how it’s run on a daily basis; and then consider the following. Is the level of service you offer the same at every interaction? How does this represent your practice as a brand? Is every patient greeted at the front desk like they are your most important client? Is there someone available to always answer the telephone, with a warm and caring manner? Do you respond to clients’ queries when you say you will?
If the answer to the above isn’t yes, then it may be time to consider ways you can improve each of these elements. Consistency and reliability fosters trust and helps to build that all important bond between a client and business. This is equally important when it comes to existing customers as well. A client should never hang up the phone or leave your practice thinking ‘that wasn’t my usual standard of service’. It takes a long time to earn a person’s hard-won loyalty and a few minutes to lose it, so treasure their confidence and do everything you can to keep it.
- Listen, listen, listen
Any practice, no matter how big it has grown or how busy it is, will soon stop if they fail to put their customers first. This, can, of course, be a challenge with other demands around you, but listening – and I mean, really listening – to clients is the key to ensuring this doesn’t happen.
We’ve all been guilty of not fully paying attention at some point; nodding and making all the right noises but sticking with our original preconceived ideas without opening our minds to the alternative. The most successful practices though will listen to their clients at every opportunity and gather as much honest feedback as possible. Yes, it might be painful to hear at times but also hugely beneficial. Never assume that you know what your clients want. What worked well last week or even today may not work tomorrow or in two months time, so listen, recognise when things need to change, and act on it.
- Exceed industry standards
In today’s customer-centric world, simply meeting expectations isn’t enough; you need to ‘wow’. So, if you haven’t done so already, take a look at your competitors and compare how you measure up.
What services do they offer? Can you book an appointment online, for instance? Is there anyone to pick up phone calls once the doors close at 5.30pm? No? Herein lies your opportunity to exceed the ‘norm’. In today’s market, the onus is on the business to win the client over – not the other way around. And the rewards of this are there to be reaped.
Word quickly spreads about extraordinary service, and those recommendations are priceless. Practices that raise the bar are inevitably the ones that rise to the top. Not only do they surpass their own expectations of what constitutes good service, but also the industry’s standard. This can be enormously powerful.