Among my travels while sharing my lectures, I have the opportunity to speak to veterinary professionals on improving client communication.
One point I like to make clear is that too often, we don’t really know WHY our client is complaining. This can be particularly true of common complaints, such as client wait time. It is my suspicion that often our clients complain not because the clock is ticking, but because they have another worry that is making that clock click slower and louder than we would like.
For example, there may be a toddler in tow that is about to spontaneously combust because it’s snack time. Or perhaps the client has another appointment that they must get to next. Maybe their kids will be dropped off at a bus stop, and the client needs to be there to meet the bus.
There could be any number of things going on with that client that is making the wait unbearable. The only way we will know what is truly wrong, and therefore be able to help, is to ask. Too often we suspect that a client is irritated or frustrated, yet we’d rather stick our head in the sand instead of speaking up to find out if a solution can be found.
In this example, perhaps there’s a vending machine in the back for the employees that can provide that cranky toddler a snack. Perhaps the client who has somewhere else to be simply needs to be updated so they can relax and know that they will make it in time for their next commitment. The parent that must be at the bus stop may be able to leave the pet and come back with the kids at a later time, and that would free up his or her worry. A solution can be found, but ONLY if the problem is identified. Again, we just need to ask.
That’s not to say we should appear naïve, with an attitude like “if you don’t have a legitimate problem, you need to settle down and wait.” There are certain steps that should always be taken when a client has to wait. Most of all, give them an idea of how long they may be waiting. To use the well-worn phrase “we’ll be with you in a minute” isn’t going to satisfy the client if they’ve already waited ten minutes, and you know they’ll likely wait another ten. If the wait is atypical, meaning you usually run on time, the clients may not have as much patience when they do have to wait. So let them know what experience that day has led to the wait … was it an emergency patient arriving without an appointment? Did a surgery last longer than expected? It’s always a good idea to let them know WHY they are waiting. I love the sign that says something to the effect, “we apologize for the wait, but we know you will want our undivided attention when it is your turn.”
So what brought this topic to mind today? My Cavalier King Charles, Joy, was fussing this morning. I took her out, thinking it was potty time. She still fussed. It wasn’t time for her morning snack, so I crossed this off the list. When I got her back out of her “house” kennel again, I let her tell me … she ran to the bathtub to lick up the droplets left behind by my shower. Turns out Mom, i.e. Me, had let her water bowl dry up! In her own little way, she told me what she needed. With our clients, we have the advantage of the spoken language, so just ask!
Among my travels while sharing my lectures, I have the opportunity to speak to veterinary professionals on improving client communication. Among my travels while sharing my lectures, I have the opportunity to speak to veterinary professionals on improving client communication. needs, communication, client communication, waiting
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