Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Mar 27, 2017 by Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer.  Then, ask yourself, what do I want when it comes to attaining veterinary care?

Many clients of veterinarians express a great deal of mistrust and disappointment with their experiences when seeking veterinary care.  Data from the past decade has shown a decrease in the number of transactions at many practices and an increase in the interval between visits.  When clients are asked why they have anxiousness when dealing with their veterinarian, many express frustration at not being able to get answers to simple questions without going to the clinic and paying for it, in one way or another.  They express fatigue at going in for one thing and exiting the practice with a high bill for many other transactions that they question whether they needed them or not.  Does this experience ever happen to you when seeking services in your life?

A recent article in TechCrunch, when talking about auto mechanics said, "In general, people dread car repairs. According to a AAA survey, 2 out of 3 people in the U.S. don’t trust auto repair shops and more than half have had negative past experiences. Two of the biggest concerns are that mechanics will recommend unnecessary services and overcharge for their work."  

Can you see how we might subsitute 'veterinarian' for 'mechanic' in this paragraph?  Now, most veterinarians aren't seen in quite this level of distrust, but alarmingly, in my travels when talking to hundreds of pet and horse owners, I hear many of the same complaints.  

For years, the veterinary industry has taught the philosophy of 'compliance'.  This is necessary, as without compliance for proper routine care, patients will be less healthy.  However, we as veterinarians must remember how we want to be treated when we seek a service.  Do we want to be constantly told coldly that we need to do certain procedures or treatments, or do we want to be reminded that it's about the well-being and long term health of the animal?  It's about the care, not the procedure.  The communication component is very important in developing the correct value perception with your clients.  They want to be in control.  Put them in control.  Make your best recommendations and help them make the best decisions for their needs.

Remember, put yourself in your customers' shoes.  You will be a better service provider for doing so.

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