Looking after your clients and providing continuity of care

6 May 2022 5 min read


There’s no doubt that the pandemic taught us many lessons and it’s hard to come by an article that doesn’t mention the effects of COVID-19. When it comes to looking after your clients, and ensuring continuity of care; as we open up again, we’re left to wonder, how many things stay and how many things go?  And what should we do next?

In March 2022, Vet Times wrote an article around Great Expectations: client care, which is part of the Big 6 2022 series exploring the dynamics shaping the veterinary industry today. It explores key themes on how we should go forth. As part of Alison Lambert’s (Managing Director of OnSwitch) contribution to the article, she recognises the need for a lookout, maintaining and embracing what we learned.

“We could have modified sooner; there were still people not embracing things such as asynchronous communication, outbound calling, looking at how we can do digital engagement, how we can do proactive sending of meds – all of that stuff; we did it in phase one of the pandemic because we had no choice, but we didn’t embrace it as a profession and take it into phase two in the way that perhaps we could have done.

And now we are in phase three, there are still people who haven’t done what most people did in phase two, so there are a few practices that are still not doing online booking, asynchronous communication work and outbound calling.

Some practices are flying because they embraced the learnings from wave two and one – they are doing really well – but there are still lots of others still pondering on all of this.”

The beauty of hindsight

Thankfully, the past is behind us and it’s a victory for many of us to get through extraordinary times in the first place! And yet for the many losses, struggles and issues that remain, we can use the strength of reflection, flexibility and looking ahead to make some key changes. In terms of looking after your clients and providing continuity of care, it comes in many forms and lays beneath the surface:

  • Client communication
  • Policies and processes
  • Staff training and development
  • Digitisation/technology
  • Physical environment and client experience whilst at the clinic
  • Pre-appointment, appointment and post-appointment experiences
  • Key integrations to reduce friction for both staff and clients

Whilst you can’t act on everything all at once since it requires money, investment and focus, your practice and teams can start out by evaluating and prioritising where the gaps are, as openly and as constructively as possible. Your strengths are something to celebrate and give you the opportunity to take time on the weaker parts of your practice.

Using Click, Connect and Communicate to enhance your client relationships

At the beginning of the year, we introduced a free WorkBook that enables you to evaluate your clinic in every area with resources and inspiration on bolstering or implementing tools, processes or policies that can enhance your operations.

In the same article above from the Vet Times, Alan Robinson, Founder of Vet Dynamics says:

“No matter how much you do communicate, you will always need to do more – no matter how much information you give people you will always be asked for more. Going forward, I think the terminology is digital first; what we tend to do in the veterinary profession is bolt it on – bolt on another app; bolt on this; bolt on some remote things. There’s no integration of any of that. With any of these things – client care; vet performance; anything – it’s the amount of friction we produce in the process that stops this stuff happening.”

We’re huge advocates of reducing friction. There’s little sense in purchasing the latest toys, apps, bells and whistles if it adds more to the pile in terms of managing, processing and effecting big changes. For clients to feel valued and to ensure it is as seamless as possible, looking out for a connected ecosystem is important. Any time you’re purchasing technology or otherwise, ask about its third party integrations and make sure you can get the most out of a “one-stop-shop” ethos. Many providers should be able to problem-solve with you and not give you “one more thing to worry about.”

Prioritising your staff

Of course, for enhanced client experiences and continuity of care, it’s your staff that are running the show and at the helm of the veterinary ship. The ship going in the right direction depends hugely on the satisfaction and motivation of your staff.  In a Guardian article, it was found that 90% of veterinary business owners and managers report unprecedented difficulties in filling vacancies over the past two years. The 2022 statistics as you can imagine might be mind-boggling and may lead to a feeling of pessimism. The global veterinary shortage, mental health challenges, critical issues and its impact on client care are of course no easy feat, however we’re encouraged by forces, charities, institutions, regulations and companies that are banding together to help.

In many ways, we’ve never had a better understanding of human courage and global cooperation than ever before. Charities and helplines stepped up even in the darkest times. Human beings in general volunteered to save the day and help others in need. Puppies kept smiling and ogling at us reminding all of us that we do indeed need to be there for them. Managers got better at being considerate and thoughtful. Professional bodies like RCVS instituted some key regulations, guidance and changes. Influencers rallied for our mental health and offered some key advice. Technology and Zoom kept us connected. Social consciousness has kept us accountable and informed. And last but not least, as industry veterinary professionals, with an innate sense of compassion and care for all beings, ourselves, clients and patients –  that energy and drive often get many through sticky times.

At Covetrus, in our podcast, Paws, Rewind and Play, we’ve interviewed many fantastic leaders who have provided much wisdom around these key areas and these certainly would filter out into how clients perceive and experience your practice each time they visit:

  • Dr Nadine Hamilton, a leading psychologist and best-selling author, speaks about managing expectations and setting boundaries at the vet clinic.
  • Dr Alex Hynes, senior vet and TV personality, advises on how you can manage the many priorities a vet experiences, both professionally and personally.
  • Danny Chambers, senior vet and local UK MP candidate, talks about dealing with the emotional paradox and making mistakes.
  • Kay Ritchie, senior recruiter in the veterinary industry talks about best practices for hiring managers and employees, performance reviews and investing in staff satisfaction.
  • Dr Rory Cowlam, senior vet and TV personality, talks about being a good communicator and why not to view monetisation as evil.

Overall, whilst the list seems exhaustive or can feel overwhelming, as in life, it is always taking it one step at a time as opposed to looking at the whole mountain. We hope that free tools like our WorkBook and podcasts can help you make manageable and practical changes.

Every little step counts and as soon as any foundation is solidified, whether through staff improvements, policies incorporated, newly adopted technology, environment changes or otherwise, it undoubtedly will have (good) ripple effects on client experience and continuity of care.