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    Customer Service in a Veterinary Hospital: Making Assumptions


    It’s no secret that customer service is a key component of nearly every business’ success…or failure.  

    As consumers, we have many options on where we can acquire goods and services. So why do we remain loyal customers to our favorite businesses?  I’d bet customer service is one of the top reasons on your list. 

    In order to build a fiercely loyal customer base, we have to look deeper into what excellent customer service really entails. That’s why I decided to offer a FOUR part veterinary coaching series on customer service, and this is part TWO! In this series, I’ll delve into several different best practices and strategies that will ensure you deliver an exceptional customer service experience to everyone who walks through your door, which will keep them coming back for life!

    Chris Staff Photo

    Chris Henning

    Hospital Coach, Hippo Manager Software

    Chris Henning has been in the veterinary field for over 10 years, her specialties including wellness plan implementation, change management, professional development, and customer service. She believes in providing the highest level of medical care to pets and clients, while developing teams to perform at their highest potential. Chris is passionate about helping other veterinary leaders expand their own leadership skills to increase their own team engagement and financial success.




    Part Three: What Happens When We Assume?

    Have you ever heard the old saying “you know what happens when you assume…”? Making assumptions about anything can backfire, and that includes assumptions about what will leave our clients satisfied. 

    1. Don’t assume what your clients want… ASK them! 

    Try asking open-ended questions at the start of a visit:  

    “What do you need from us today?

    Rather than a  close-ended question like:

    “You’re here for vaccines, right?”

    Leaving the door open for conversation might bring up other issues the client would like to discuss. Show the client you want to find the best way to serve them while they’re there, and give them the most personalized experience possible!

    2. Consider each client’s needs and adjust accordingly. 

    Everyone’s needs are different, and if we try to address every need in the same way, we’re going to fall short for some. 

    At one time in my hospital, whenever an owner would show up to pick up their pet(s) after a surgery or procedure, we would take them into an exam room to go over all medications and instructions, etc. One day, a regular client begged me, “Please, do not put me in an exam room again – I know everything I need.”  

    She was right! She was there so often for similar reasons that she knew our protocol, and she was confident in her abilities. While we thought we were offering her excellent customer service, we were actually frustrating her by wasting her time. We were also creating more work for our staff. Our assumptions about what she wanted from us led us astray in serving her the best way we could. 

    Have some flexibility and adjust your service to the needs of every individual client. If you aren’t sure what that is, see bullet point #1– ASK! 

    3. Offer random acts of kindness.  

    One of the reasons that I continue to drive 45 minutes to my personal pets’ hospital is because of the people and the way they make my life easier with their kindness.

    Without fail, someone always asks to help me out to my car, and that is a BIG deal to me.  With two big dogs that outweigh me, a baby, and a toddler, physically getting us all in and out of the building is a challenge. This simple act of kindness makes me want to sing their praises to the world!

    Challenge your team members to find ways to offer your clients random acts of kindness– it can have a HUGE effect on how your clients see you and your hospital. 

    The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to customize to your clients. Try to identify what their needs and wants are from you as their veterinary medical provider, and then make it happen! 

    It took me years to realize that following the exact same client service gestures for every person was unintentionally making some of our clients unhappy with their experience. Let THEM dictate how you serve them and watch your customer service methods thrive!

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