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3 Ways to Take Client Service to a Higher Level

I’m one of those people who live to eat as opposed to someone who eats to live.  I really enjoy eating out whether it is at a fancy restaurant, a local chain restaurant or a dive.  Recently I dined at a local upscale chain restaurant that has 4 locations in the Tampa area.  I ordered the salmon which was to be served with jasmine rice and snow peas.  My dinner arrived and looked beautiful but I was struck by the fact that there were only 4 snow peas on the plate-each laid out in 4 directions on the plate.  My initial impression was…gosh that’s not very many snow peas.  Then after tasting one, I was a bit dismayed because they were the best snow peas I’ve ever tasted!  Did I mention I live to eat?

So, the next time the waitress comes by, I comment on the meager portion of snow peas and she says “well they’re really just a garnish.”  To which I respond they really should serve more especially since they taste so yummy.  A short time later, she comes to the table with a small bowl full of snow peas.  I was surprised and delighted!  Great customer service, right?  Well, yes and no.

While it’s true that I left the restaurant quite happy because of getting the extra snow peas, I would have preferred if I had been served a reasonable portion to start with.  And I would have been more impressed if the waitress had said “yes, that is a small portion.  Let me go get you some more. I’m glad you like them.”  Here’s what we can learn about client service from this experience:

  1. Client perception is everything. It’s your clients’ views that matters.  The restaurant viewed the snow peas as a lovely garnish while I wanted a meaningful portion of veggies.  At your practice, encourage a mindset of always seeing things from the pet owner’s perspective.
  2. Exceeding expectations and surprising clients builds loyalty. What’s your equivalent of giving more snow peas? Perhaps it’s agreeing to have a prescription ready right away or coming in early to admit a patient.  Maybe it’s offering to take a rowdy child on a tour of the hospital so the client can talk to the doctor without distraction.
  3. People love empowered team members. Is your team trained to respond positively to pet owner requests and comments?  Are they empowered and encouraged to take action to please clients?  For example, if a client grumbles about the wait time as they’re escorted into the exam room which response is likely to be said by your team:

Bad: Silence.  This is a common response when employees don’t know what to say.

Bad: “We’re really busy today.  Dr. Smith is running behind.  We had an emergency come in.”

Good: “I’m so sorry you’ve had to wait. I’d be frustrated too. Your nurse, Jill will be right in to take Sophie‘s temperature and weigh him. And I’m going to go tell Dr. Smith right now that he’s ready to be examined.”  This response is best because it conveys empathy and lets the client know you’re taking action to assist them.

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About the Author: Amanda Donnelly
Dr. Amanda Donnelly is a sought-after speaker, author, business consultant, and second-generation veterinarian who combines her practice experience and business expertise to help veterinarians communicate better with their teams and clients. Well known as a dynamic speaker, Dr. Donnelly was the 2023 Practice Management Educator of the Year for WVC and has twice been named Practice Management Speaker of the Year for the VMX Conference. Dr. Donnelly is the author of the book Leading and Managing Veterinary Teams: The Definitive Guide to Veterinary Practice Management and a contributing author for Blackwell’s Five Minute Veterinary Practice Management Consult and Pet-Specific Care for Veterinary Teams. She also writes the Talk the Talk communication column for Today’s Veterinary Business journal.