Communication, part II: Turning the client experience into huge profits (Proceedings)
We're sure by now many of you have mastered certain techniques aimed at attracting new clients into your offices. However, due to our current economic trends and an extremely competitive marketplace, these new clients are unfortunately not tearing our doors down. Furthermore, during lean times clients seem to be even more demanding, possibly because they know they may have the upper hand. Because of this, it has become painfully evident to us that we must develop strategies geared at nurturing all of our new and existing client base. After all, what is the point of spending time, effort, and energy trying to attract new clients to your practice if you haven't developed methods to keep them there? We feel that this "Internal Marketing" is the key to staying afloat in the future!
When looking to start a business, realtors and consultants will tell you that the 3 most important considerations are "location, location, and location!" We feel that the 3 most important components to attracting and maintaining a client base is "service, service, and service." Killing 'em with kindness is certainly okay but killing 'em with service is even better. Certainly we don't mean to underplay the import of quality medical care, but we hope it is a given that this is something all of you are already providing. The truth is that most clients don't really know how to measure or recognize quality care as long as they see results, but service is something they can definitely measure and seem to respond to.
Here are some of the sure-fired methods which have proven so successful for us in keeping our clients loyal and happy.1) Ask your clients what they want! It's often difficult to provide clients with a service if you're not sure exactly what service they'd like to be offered. There may be certain services you are currently not providing to your clients that they may want, such as early drop-offs, late pick-ups, a system for hassle free prescription refills, a particular product, etc. You may never find this out if you don't ask. Provide questionnaires to your clients for comments, suggestions, criticisms and recommendations. Also have meetings with your staff and make sure they understand that you need their help in gathering client feedback. Often a client will make a passing comment to one of your staff members, so make sure your staff members report back to you!
Oh yes, one more thing--it doesn't help to collect these comments if you don't act upon them. Clients want to know that their voices are being heard.
2) Show your clients that you care. Don't be afraid to display affection to your patients. This seems to be very difficult for many veterinarians and quite frankly we don't understand why. It really shouldn't be that difficult for an animal lover to pick up a small dog or cat and hold it or give it a hug, or to kneel down and play or rough-house with a large dog. One thing for sure is that clients love to see their veterinarian hug, kiss, or play with their pets. News of this type of behavior definitely travels quickly through your client's circle of friends.
3) Call backs! If you, your associates or your staff members are currently not making these, you are missing the boat. There is little more appreciated by a client to show that you truly care than a phone call from you or a staff member checking up on their pet. We try to call back every surgical, major medical and dermatological case, and all new clients within 1 week after being seen or released. If your client is not home, leave a message for them, or better yet, leave it for their pet. Our clients really appreciate these phone calls. Try it--you'll be amazed at the feedback you get.