In the veterinary industry, we all know that while it’s important to continuously attract new clients, the key to long-term success is keeping the existing ones happy and coming back year after year. Easier said than done? Not necessarily. It’s really about making sure that when people bring their pets to you for care, they have such a positive experience that they’ll have no need to go anywhere else. Need some ideas? Here are several creative ways to have more memorable moments with your clients.
Optimize Time – How much time is wasted with your clients filling out paperwork? What if you had your receptionist begin taking down information and completing the client/patient file while they’re scheduling the appointment? If the phones are too busy, offer to email a link to the online registration form. This will speed up the time it takes to get from the waiting area into the exam room.
Go the Extra Mile – New client? Make a great first impression by having your front desk clerk provide driving directions and offer to call their previous vet on their behalf to have their pet’s records transferred over before their first appointment.
Schedule Accordingly – There are two important things to keep in mind. People don’t want to have to wait and they also don’t want to be rushed. This is the never-ending dilemma many vets face, but if you plan accordingly, it doesn’t have to be. When scheduling appointments, make sure you’ve got a comfortable cushion of time in between each one. That way if a visit takes longer than anticipated, it won’t eat into the next client’s appointment.
Make Them Comfortable – There will inevitably be times when your clients will have to wait to be seen. Make their time in the lobby area as enjoyable as possible by providing comfortable seating and including little touches, like beverages, a coat rack, an umbrella stand and, of course, water bowls and treats for their animal companions. (Here are a few more tips for improving the waiting room experience.)
Communicate Frequently – You may already offer things like appointment reminder calls or confirmation emails, but what about the rest of the year? To ensure that your clients keep coming back with their pets you need to stay on the top of their mind. Active participation on social media, email newsletters and postcard mailings can all accomplish this goal. As an added bonus, your clients will feel more connected and important to you.
Offer Modern Conveniences – People are busy. They appreciate when a service provider goes out of their way to accommodate them. For instance, offering extended office hours, selling their pet’s favorite food or providing the option to request appointments and refill prescriptions online are all things that will make your clients’ lives easier. In turn, they’ll give you their loyal business.
Don’t Forget the Human Touch – Many vets are so focused on caring for their patients that they forget to account for the human in the room. Sure, pet owners will love it if you get down on the floor and wrestle with their dog or give their cat an extra chin scratch, but they’ll also appreciate it if you make eye contact with them and treat them with respect. It’s important to find a balance, even if you have to work at it.
Research has shown that it’s much more cost-effective to keep an existing client than it is to acquire a new one. If you want your veterinary clients to keep coming back, you have to give them good reason to do so. Implementing some or all of the above strategies should help you provide your clients with an experience they won’t soon forget.