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    Customer Service in a Veterinary Hospital: The Silent Message


    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 Henning Hippo Manager

    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 Two: The Silent Message

    In this second chapter, we’ll explore “The Silent Message,” meaning non-verbal communication.  

    Did you know that 20% of the message people receive comes from the words they hear, and 80% comes from non-verbal cues? If the two don’t match up, the non-verbal cues will dictate the message.

    1. Identify Non-Verbal Do’s and Don’ts. 

    What your body is saying means a whole lot more than what your mouth is saying! The problem is, we are often less aware of the message our bodies are sending compared to the words we’re saying.

    Evaluate yourself! Do you often cross your arms? Make minimal eye contact? Always put the exam table between you and your client? These are all things that could create a distance you didn’t intend and be considered impersonal. 

    Instead, try to make an effort to shake your clients’ hands, get down on the floor with their pet, stand on the same side of the table as them, and enter notes about their visit AFTER they leave. 

    Personally, I noticed I had a habit of holding the door knob while speaking to clients, which was likely making them feel that I was in a rush to get out of the room. I love my daughter’s pediatrician because I noticed that I can NEVER tell how busy he is. When he is in the room with us, he is calm and 100% focused on our needs, and it puts my mind at ease.

    2. Take the time to OBSERVE. 

    As a leader, make time to periodically observe your team and coach them in the moment.  Someone once pointed out that keeping my sunglasses on top of my head during hospital visits could be interpreted as me being in such a hurry to leave that I didn’t even bother to remove my sunglasses. In actuality, I was using them as a headband to keep my hair out of my face. I had no idea!  Once it was brought to my attention, I adjusted as to not set a bad example for our employees. 

    Observe your team through your clients’ eyes. What non-verbal messages are they sending? They may not even realize it! 

    3. Make It Fun!  

    It can be hard to tell your staff that their behavior is having a “negative” effect.  After all, most people don’t wake up and think, “I’m going to purposely do a bad job today!”  Most of the time, negative non-verbal behavior is completely unintentional. 

    Coaching your team on having awareness on this topic can be fun! For example, you can host the “Academy Awards of Customer Service”! Have them act out what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to non-verbal behavior. Make sure it feels like a safe space and no one feels attacked. Making time for this could bring a lot to everyone’s attention, including things you might be doing that you didn’t realize!

    Once you can recognize the non-verbal cues that can support (or sabotage) the high level of customer service you strive to achieve every day, you can work with your team to ensure they are self-aware of the messages they are sending to your clients.  

    What “silent messages” are your team members sending in your hospital?

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