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Survey: Most Practices Solicit Pet Owner Input

72 percent of Veterinary Hospital Managers Association members ask clients for feedback, but the information isn’t always useful.

The majority of veterinary hospitals believe that client feedback is helpful in evaluating policies, procedures and practices.

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Nearly three in every four veterinary practices request client feedback through surveys, but whether the comments are helpful is another matter.

The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) of Alachua, Fla., reported Tuesday that a survey of its own members found that 72 percent issued client questionnaires and that more than half of them did so after an office visit.

Among the reasons 28 percent of practices refrained from putting out surveys were low response rates during previous efforts or not enough time, money or resources.

Some of the survey-free practices justified their decision by noting that the request for input puts pressure on a client or can present the image that the clinic is trying to fix something.

VHMA urged that hospitals invite feedback from clients.

“When clients are dissatisfied, they register their complaints with their wallets, which can have a devastating effect on a practice’s bottom line,” the organization stated.

The 272 VHMA members who returned their surveys noted that not all client feedback was valuable. Twelve percent of those that use surveys said the results were insufficient to effect meaningful change, and 5 percent said the responses were often too rosy and therefore not very helpful.

The other 83 percent of clinics stated that their surveyed clients’ thoughts were “helpful in evaluating current policies, procedures and practices,” VHMA reported.

“Most believe that surveys have provided information that has been used to implement office changes, served as the foundation for a dialogue with staff about office matters and contributed to better staff morale,” the organization stated.

Client surveys were distributed electronically 69 percent of the time, and practices that relied on paper polling were about evenly split between mailing the material or handing it out at the office.

Nearly 1 in 4 practices stated that survey results were disclosed to staff members.

“Even practices that received glowing reviews found that the positive feedback helped fire up staff and keep morale high,” VHMA reported. “Negative feedback is also shared with staff to help improve performance and develop strategies for improvement.”

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