Mar 24, 2016 by Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA
Delivering exemplary service requires knowing your customers. In order to know your customers, it is important to listen to them when you see them and to be proactive in seeking their input as well. To do so, it is imperative to update client files. To be effective, a practice should have detailed contact information for every client, including cell phone numbers and email addresses to streamline communications and make them as convenient as possible for the client. Each client can provide preferences regarding their desired communication modalities. Some clients may be reluctant to provide certain contact information, but there are ways to get this information in a non-intimidating manner from most clients if they know why you're asking for it. The bigger question is what you will do with their information.
Many clients prefer texting and email to phone communications in many situations. In fact, texting is the most frequently used function on mobile devices. People love the simplicity of text, and if they need a phone conversation, they can always request one. Don't assume that you know what they prefer, ask them. Some will prefer snail mail, but many will prefer more modern modalities in certain situations.
In establishing new clients, include detailed contact information and preferences on the client information form. Have your receptionist verify all client contact information when they arrive for appointments. If you have a login mechanism for clients on your website, you can require that they use their email address as the username. This will give you their email address. You can also offer text updates on their patients while under your care, which requires them to provide a cell phone number. Offer to send them your clinic newsletter via email or text (use a link) and many will sign up for educational updates from your practice. Remember, you, their veterinarian, are your clients' most preferred source of health education for their animals.
Make it a priority to get complete client contact information so that you can engage them in multiple ways for education, customer service, and relationship development. The more connected you can become to your clients, the more satisfied they will be, and the greater will be their loyalty.
We'll discuss how to use your detailed contact information in future discussions to learn what clients want.