I visit veterinary practices across the country and even those in new facilities could do more to improve the client experience and market their services in the veterinary reception area. No matter the age of your practice facility, you immediately can add a great deal to the client experience by employing a warm and engaging front desk team. The front desk team is on the front lines and all patient visits begin and end with them. You will have the greatest success differentiating your practice from other providers of veterinary services by having a team that genuinely welcomes clients and their pets as members of the family. You want yours to be the practice where clients enjoy visiting so much they gladly stop by to pick up medications and other products for their pets rather than turning to a big box provider.
Take a long look at your reception area. Make sure it is not cluttered with literature and out of date material. Try to promote only products and services you recommend and remove pamphlets and the like that feature preventatives you no longer carry, for example. If you have an older facility you may want to brighten up the client areas with some fresh paint and new window treatments. It might be time to change out artwork. If yours is a small animal practice, feature some artwork giving the area a “feline friendly” feel since many small animal practices could benefit from offering more services to cats. You can add a personal touch to your reception area by displaying a photo array of the doctors and team members with their pets. Many practices now have flat screen televisions in the waiting areas. A number I see display Animal Planet or a local television station’s programming. However, Animal Planet can run some disturbing material and not everyone wants to see day time television programming. Try running programming that educates your clients about common pet concerns, features services you offer or even that which celebrates your clients and their pets.
Clients often spend some time waiting in the exam rooms so your practice should make a great impression in these areas as well. Try sitting in one of your exam rooms and considering how clients might perceive the space. Is it comfortable? Is the room really clean and well organized? Are pamphlets promoting products and services to serve as aids in educating clients within reach or are they stuck in a drawer somewhere? Frame educational posters on parasite control, dentistry, nutrition and wellness testing that vendors supply to you to create a professional image—don’t tape them to the walls. Many practices have computer workstations in their exam rooms. Often these are idle. You might consider running educational programming such as a video explaining all steps in a dental treatment on these monitors to keep clients engaged and help you market your services.
Having a stellar front desk team and taking the time to keep the client areas in your facility fresh and attractive will add value to the client experience in your practice and keep clients coming back.
Carol Hart, DVM