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Don't Overlook Customer Service Basics At Your Practice

Remembering the basics of customer service can be the make-or-break for a practice.

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If you read this blog with any frequency, you know I love to take lessons from “real life” and apply them to veterinary medicine. While some of that urge may be to acquire ideas for blogs, most of it is an automatic after working in a “service” field where our skills of communication are vital to the success of the business, and for us, the health of the animal. I also urge you to do the same, to take both good and bad events in your reality and see if and how they are a reflection of veterinary medicine. So here’s today’s story…chiggers.

Here’s what chiggers are, because you may not be familiar if you haven’t lived in areas where they exist: Chiggers are the larval (juvenile) form of a common mite from the family known as Trombiculidae. I’ve known about chiggers all my life, but perhaps that’s because I spent a lot of time being raised in the south. Regardless, we have them up north here in Wisconsin. My family experienced their wrath after a camping trip where they went out on a lake in a canoe (minus me, who stayed on land). The bites were smaller than mosquito bites, and didn’t start itching until days after the exposure. Then, none of the typical medicine for mosquito bites worked to calm the itch. They tried oral Benadryl and topical cortisone, to no avail. So I went for advice at the most logical place, a pharmacist at a pharmacy.

I waited to talk to the pharmacist, and when I asked my question, the young female pharmacist had never heard of chiggers. OK, strike one. So then I emphasized that the Benadryl and cortisone were NOT working (and yes, I told her “Benadryl” and “cortisone”). Then she recommended, yes, Benadryl and cortisone. I reminded her that they did not work! So her best effort was to mention that a doctor could prescribe a stronger steroid if I wanted to go that route. Thanks, that was very helpful.

So I went over to the section for anti-itch OTC meds (without her referral), read all the different types of anti-itch labels, and discovered that there were two ingredients that were not the typical cortisone. I figured they would be worth a try (again, without her assistance). Then I also found one medication that listed, you guessed it, CHIGGERS on the label!  Wow, I wonder if the pharmacist knows?

In the end, I bought three different medications of the “non-cortizone” type, and tried the one that mentioned chiggers first. It helped, there was finally relief, and I took the other two meds back the next day. Long story, but I’m sure you get the point…

So the moral of the story? NEVER leave it up to a client to discover something on their own, in YOUR place of business, that you should have known first … or could find out with a little investment of time and effort. I would have even been happy if she said, “Wow, I don’t know what those are, but let’s go over to our OTC section and see what we can find!” Then, both her and I would have discovered the cure, and she could have used the education to further her own knowledge.

I’ve thought of going back up and giving her the lesson, but I don’t suppose she’ll appreciate it.

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