We get a lot of new clients coming in every month, but how do we keep them coming back?
As with most service relationships, creating client satisfaction involves many factors, such as skill at asking clients the type of questions that, when answered, will give you the information critical to knowing exactly what needs you must satisfy. But you cannot discount the fact that developing a relationship takes time. As consumers ourselves, we typically divulge information only after we have been made to feel comfortable and that we are speaking with a trustworthy individual who has honorable intentions and can carry them out. See Question 36 for more tips on establishing trust between a veterinarian and client.
Creating a memorable experience for a new client, or any client for that matter, requires that you pay attention to the details. Explain the steps in the process for the first visit so clients have a good idea of what will happen to their pet, how long it might take, and approximately what it will cost. In general, keep the information flowing. No one likes surprises here.
Personalize the experience as much as possible so clients feel valued as individuals, not simply as patient X. Make them feel welcome in the clinic. Use the client's and pet's names in communication and always thank the client for choosing your clinic. And, of course, say that you look forward to seeing them again.
A stable, long-term roster of staff is also very comforting to a pet owner. For clients, seeing the same staff over again conveys the message that your clinic is a good place to work and therefore a good place to bring their pets. And who doesn't enjoy being recognized and acknowledged by name when they visit the clinic? This can happen only if the team remains relatively the same, year after year.
Last, keep doing whatever you are doing that brings in a steady stream of new clients!
We recently handed out flyers for clients to participate in a client survey and got only two responses. How do we motivate clients to provide feedback?
Much as with any situation in which you are trying to compel people to do something, your success is greatly predicated on their perception of what's in it for them. Think about it this way: People are busy and don't want to take the time to fill out a survey if they do not see a direct purpose or result that will benefit them or their pets.
Most practices try to keep their surveys short and to the point to encourage participation, but consider trying to motivate clients to provide feedback with different approaches. For instance, if you would like to obtain statistically significant information from your clients in order to make an assessment of service levels or to determine whether there is sufficient interest in launching a new product or service, first explain to prospective survey takers the purpose of the survey and why you are requesting the information. This needs to be followed by a description of how you will use the information and if and when they will be told about the results. If you are asking clients to take the survey in person, delegate this task to the individuals on your team who have good communication skills and have a relationship with the clients. A personal appeal at that level will garner a higher response. It's always a good idea to have an anonymous option as well as one in which respondents can request that they be contacted for additional feedback.
How the questions are written and the survey design should be given equal priority. Try to use the lowest number of questions to elicit the most information possible. A professionally designed questionnaire is sure to add to the success rate.
Last but not least, an incentive may just tip the scales in your favor if respondents will be comfortable providing their contact information. Many will want to remain anonymous, however, so it may not always be a feasible tactic. Providing survey information up front, including how the information will be used, and then following up in a timely manner by sharing the findings andmost importantthe subsequent decisions you have made as a result will encourage participation. Ideally, if done well, this will further bond clients to your practice as you will once again prove to come through on a promiseasking for feedback, listening to the results, and taking action because of it. It sure is nice to be heard!