Five tips for presenting the "value" of your recommendations to clients (Proceedings)


Five tips for presenting the "value" of your recommendations to clients (Proceedings)

Apr 01, 2010

Typically, veterinary teams describe value in terms of veterinarian time or the equipment or technology used. In contrast, clients think of value in terms of the health of the pet. In this session you will learn and practice new ways to describe the value of your recommendation in ways that are more meaningful to clients.

Five Tips
1. Clarify your recommendation
2. Be aware of conflicts of interest
3. Focus on value to the pet
4. Let clients generate their own concerns
5. Practice what you want to say

      1. Clarify your recommendation

What is your recommendation? If you aren't sure, don't make the client decide! Hold doctor and team meetings to discuss your standard of care. Be clear about your recommendation.

      2. Be aware of conflicts of interest

Three conflicts of Interest are faced by every veterinarian and veterinary team. One is the desire to hold down costs versus the duty to act as strong health-care advocates using medical evidence for decisions. Another is the need to earn money for the business to survive versus the health-advocate role based on medical evidence. And finally, there is the divided loyalty between the interests of the pet and the interests of the client.

To reduce conflict of interest, focus on this: What is your role in the doctor-client collaboration? You have medical expertise. Provide your medical recommendation.

      3. Focus on value to the pet

Clients are all affected differently by the economy, but all want to know they are receiving value. Value to the vet can be summarized this way: "Here's how much time & technology we are using for you." In contrast, value to the client: can be summarized this way: "What is good for my pet? What is the reason for using that time and technology?" When communicating with clients, describe value to the pet. What will be prevented? (Away from negative.) What will be better? (Toward positive.)

      4. Let clients generate their own concerns

Why do clients hesitate to say yes? It's not always about money! If it really is, consider financial or timing choices. Yet the reason could be that the doctor sounds unsure or seems inexperienced, or that there is lack of trust or respect.

"It was not the price of care that prevented most clients from undertaking recommended treatments... the real problem with owner "compliance" was confusion, uncertainty, and misunderstanding." - - JAVMA 232(4) 2/15/08

Research shows that some clients do not want to choose; others do. The more choices offered, the more likely none will be chosen. Too many choices creates confusion. You can give clients the feeling of control by offering information, not lots of choices.

"Fewer than half of patients wanted complete prognostic information; more than half preferred a passive role in some aspects of decision-making. Physicians predicted their patients' preferences with only mediocre success." - - Desire for information and involvement in treatment decisions. J Clin Oncol 2007

Ask clients what they want to know, and what their concerns are, and don't make assumptions.

      5. Practice what you want to say

When you make your recommendation, the client may ask for choices. Rather than just listing another choice, describe why it's not the best value to the pet. Why not medical choice number 2? Describe medical reasons only!
      Longer recovery?
      Worsening condition?
      More discomfort or pain?
      Guess at treatment could lead to worsening condition?
      Greater long term effort?
      More difficult or time consuming treatment work by client?
      More rechecks needed?

In summary, hone your professional appearance and speaking skills. Focus on the client's point of view, which is focused on the value to the pet. What is your medical opinion about what is best for this pet? Find out what your clients want to know by asking them. Then, provide your medical expertise.


Client Satisfaction Pays: Quality Service for Practice Success. 2nd Ed, AAHA Press 2009. Carin A. Smith, DVM

Team Satisfaction Pays: Organizational Development for Practice Success. Smith Veterinary Consulting, 2008. Carin A. Smith, DVM

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