The first step to enhancing client service is to become a client-centered hospital and make it a goal of the business to consistently deliver exceptional service while always striving to exceed the needs of clients. Next you must hire employees with positive attitudes who are motivated to provide outstanding service. Then focus on the following 3 key areas to ensure success in achieving your goal.
Client Engagement: Connect With Clients
One of the best ways to provide tailored, sophisticated service is to connect emotionally with clients and recognize their unique needs. Don’t lose sight of the client’s perspective when communicating with clients. Remember to focus on what clients are feeling and what they need from the healthcare team as well as what their pet needs.
Give clients compliments. Everyone likes to receive compliments so look for opportunities to say something nice to clients. Always praise clients about how well they take care of their pet because this will reinforce your position on patient advocacy and show you care about keeping pets healthy and happy. Don’t forget to compliment pets since owners love to hear team members show interest in their pets. You may be able to comment on how attractive the pet is, tell the owner you like their collar, or compliment the pet for being so cooperative and friendly. Don’t limit your compliments to praise or comments about the pet. If you like something about the client let them know.
Look for opportunities to thank clients. Send thank-you cards and/or gifts to clients who refer other clients. Thank clients for waiting and for being patient. Thank clients when they are flexible with their schedules. And thank clients for trusting you to care for their beloved pets.
Differentiate Your Service
Service standards can elevate the level of client service and differentiate your business. Create standards that help to create a positive memory for the pet owner. Start with a few standards at a time and train everyone on the team to meet the standards. Develop standards for the most common client interactions such as on the phone, in the exam room and during check-in and check-out times. Include the entire team in dialogue about standards to capture great ideas, facilitate training and to ensure buy-in.
Avoid creating standards that are scripted phrases which lack authenticity. For example, train team members to use appropriate phrases such as, “Hi! This must be Josie-she’s so cute. Tell me more about what’s going on with her” rather than merely asking “How can I help you?”
To further differentiate your practice with client service, brainstorm ideas with the team on how to cater to the needs of clients and how to exceed client expectations. This may include changes to the reception area to make clients more comfortable such as offering gourmet coffee and candy or adding a digital photo frame with pictures of clients’ pets. Consider offering a pet pick up and drop-off service for clients who are extremely busy or have difficulty getting to the practice. Set up a protocol to text clients rather than call them if this is their preferred means of communication. Offer monthly dog obedience classes so clients don’t have to seek out a dog trainer on their own. Surprise and delight clients by sending pets home with bandanas or toys after they have been hospitalized.
Solve Problems For Clients
Despite your team’s best efforts, there will be times when service errors occur or clients become disgruntled about something. Empower your staff to address and handle problems for clients when they occur. Clients will be happier and impressed if your employees can quickly take action to resolve lapses in service or help them with their problems. For example, if a client needs to pick up or drop off their pet outside the regularly scheduled time period, they will be thrilled when a team members works to accommodate their schedule. Likewise, when breakdowns in communication occur, clients appreciate an apology and actions to improve communication.
Efforts to create an exceptional client service experience and promote a service-oriented culture are on-going. Assess your service on a regular basis and formulate action plans to improve service when needed.
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