Today’s veterinary practices are facing increasing competition and must contend with clients turning to online resources for pet products and pet health advice. These practice owners need new ways to counter online competitors and maintain strong relationships with both their clients and patients.
The disruptive growth of online retailers is part of the “experience economy,” driven by technological transformation and led by digital-first Millennials. These consumers expect additional value through emotional connection and modern conveniences. They no longer merely desire simple goods or services, but an entire experience that adds meaning to their lives while providing the best possible care.
One way to protect your business: provide an exceptional customer experience. In fact, research shows two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge is based on the experience they deliver for their customers. And it cuts the other way: according to author Shellica Brooks-Johnson, the average business loses up to 20% of customers annually by failing to foster customer relationships.
While the care veterinarians deliver is critically important, a positive customer experience is now vital for success. These positive experience will strengthen loyalty, drive repeat business and increase the likelihood pet owners will recommend your clinic.
Ready to step up your CX?
Here are 10 steps you can take for an improved customer experience.
1. Introduce yourself
First impressions last, so make your client’s first clinic visit count. Introduce them to the team or offer a tour to highlight what sets you apart from your competition. Consider creating a Welcome packet that includes the services you provide, staff profiles and contact information.
2. Make space
The waiting area of your clinic should be an inviting and calming space where clients and patients can relax before their consultation. This could include providing separate spaces for cats and dogs or setting up a water or coffee station for clients.
3. Welcome families
Give clients a chance to focus by providing quiet distractions for children. This could include having animal-themed books or toys in the waiting area. Or invite them into the exam room so they can see what you’re doing and how you’re helping their pet.
4. Communicate openly
Keeping clients informed during the visit is critical. By increasing their knowledge of health and care options you’re demonstrating value as the expert in their pet’s care. Maintain this open dialogue through appointment reminders and follow-up conversations.
5. Get personal
Keep a note of client preferences against the patient record. Include preferred names, if they need assistance, whether they have a favorite member of your team, or any other ways to remove friction and improve their experience.
6. Be consistent
People base their expectations on their most recent experience with your clinic. In fact, a survey by PWC revealed that 32% of customers will leave a beloved brand after just one bad experience. The easiest way to create consistency is through documented practices and processes. Make sure staff are aware of the experience you wish to create.
7. Stay flexible
It’s important to not be completely tied down to processes and protocols, so you can experiment a little and try new things. You can also expand the services you provide, like a wellness program. Client-centric tools help set expectations and build positive relationships.
8. Ask questions
Customer feedback provides invaluable insights. Many online tools let you create simple surveys and send these to customers after visits or periodically. Rapport includes follow-up emails and surveys that encourage online reviews to enhance your online reputation.
9. Share successes
Whether you share via social media, newsletter or your clinic wall, it’s worth the time to share success stories. Not only are positive patient outcomes a testament to the expertise and compassion of your team, they demonstrate the range of services offered by your clinic.
10. Build community
The client experience is no longer restricted to the clinic – community engagement is critical to long-term success. Finding ways to engage or serve will bolster your brand, drive referrals and provide valuable resources.
Conclusion: Protect your business with a focus on customer experience
Creating experiences that keep clients coming back is one of the most important ways you can help your practice grow — especially as it can cost up to five times more to attract a new customer. Consistently high service levels will help your practice build relationships, referrals and repeat business to keep your competitive edge and maintain a healthy veterinary practice.