© 2023 MJH Life Sciences™ and dvm360 | Veterinary News, Veterinarian Insights, Medicine, Pet Care. All rights reserved.
27 steps to make an ow visit wow!
Don't settle for just-OK visits anymore. Use these service strategies to take your team's performance up a notch
Fending off a pack of barking dogs in an overcrowded kennel. Carrying a fractious cat across four lanes of traffic in a thunderstorm. Squeezing a limb underneath the edge of a cabinet to grasp the sneaky ferret that weaseled its way through the tight space. Can you imagine a more uncomfortable situation? That's easy. A really bad wellness visit.
At least, that's how your clients will feel if you don't take the steps to make sure each visit is efficient, productive, and educational. Let's look at how two practices handle comprehensive exams—and the steps you can take to push your wellness visits to the next level.
Scheduling the appointment
MRS. JONES: When I called for an appointment at Long Animal Hospital, the receptionist told me to come in at 4:30 p.m. I drove around for a long time looking for the building. When I finally called the practice for directions, I heard, "Long Veterinary Hospital, hold please," immediately followed by a click and a long silence. Finally someone came back on the line and said, "Long Veterinary Hospital—oh, my phone is ringing again, can you please hold?" Finally, I spoke to the receptionist. She was clearly disgruntled. I told her I was lost. She told me that the practice was behind King Sooper's grocery store on West Avenue.
MRS. SMITH: When I called, Susan, the customer service representative, introduced herself and helped me schedule an appointment for Lucky. She also sent me a hospital folder with information about the practice and a map with directions.
Arriving at the practice
MRS. JONES: When I pulled into the parking lot I noticed that the building looked like it hadn't been updated since 1975. And no wonder it was so hard to find this practice. The practice name was printed on a small old wooden sign, but the painted lettering had chipped off. The old split rail fence around the parking lot was broken, and the blacktop driveway was filled with holes. I couldn't help but wonder: If they don't update their building, how well do they keep up on their medical and surgical skills?
MRS. SMITH: I easily spotted the practice sign "Care Animal Hospital" in red letters on a white background. Under the sign was a letter board that read, "February is pet dental health month. Ask us about your pet's teeth." The building looked well-maintained, modern, and professional. The lot was landscaped and clean.
Parking the car and walking the dog
MRS. JONES: As I parked the car, Buddy made it clear that he really needed a potty break. There really wasn't a good place to walk Buddy, so I walked him along the road.
MRS. SMITH: We pulled into the parking lot and Lucky begged for a walk. Fortunately, Care Animal Hospital has a dog walking area. Lucky stretched her legs, had a good sniff, and did her business. The practice even provided doggie bags for clean up.
Stepping into the practice
MRS. JONES: I walked into the practice and the odor of urine hit me. No question that this was a veterinary hospital.
MRS. SMITH: I headed inside. The front door listed the name of the hospital and the doctors. It also listed their business hours, which included evenings and weekends, as well as an emergency number.
Checking in and sitting down
MRS. JONES: Several old orange chairs lined the walls of the waiting room. My spirits fell further—the room was packed with barking dogs and frazzled owners. The orange chairs were all occupied, so I sat on a hard wooden bench. I looked up and saw that the water-stained ceiling tiles looked ready to fall at any moment. The floor was old and yellowed.
Finally I noticed the receptionist, who sat in the far corner of the waiting room. I stepped up to read the sign taped to the glass: "sign in and sit down." I did as the sign said.
After an eternity, I finally heard "Jones!" I approached the receptionist, and she asked me to fill out a form and demanded to know how I was going to pay. I completed the form and sat down again.
MRS. SMITH: As I stepped into the hospital, I noticed the lobby was beautiful, modern, and odor-free, and soft music played in the background. Heidi, a customer service representative, greeted me. Heidi asked if my dog was Lucky, because she was expecting a Lhasa apso. She showed me to a seat and offered refreshments. She also brought Lucky a bowl of water.
Heidi sat down with me and asked several questions about Lucky and her medical history. She also asked whether I had any concerns. I asked her about dental health month. She explained the program and assured me that Chelsea, the doctor's exam room assistant, would discuss dental health with me.
Next, Heidi took me on a tour of the veterinary hospital. She showed me the treatment, surgery, radiology, lab, boarding, and grooming areas and the intensive care unit.
Waiting for the doctor
MRS. JONES: About fifteen minutes later, I heard my name shouted again, this time by a young lady in jeans and a scrub shirt who told me to follow her. She took me to a small exam room with a stainless steel table, a counter, and several posters taped to the wall. The young lady, who never identified herself, said, "You are here for an exam and vaccinations today, right?" I said yes, and she told me the doctor was running late. Having no place to sit, I stood and waited. While I was waiting, I heard all kinds of noises from the back, including crying dogs and screaming cats.
MRS. SMITH: When the tour was over, Heidi introduced me to Chelsea, who took Lucky and me to a beautiful, modern, clean exam room. Chelsea asked for permission to give Lucky a treat and played with Lucky for a few minutes. Then she explained all the preventive and diagnostic health procedures Lucky needed, including an annual stool sample check and blood work because Lucky was 6 years old. Next, we discussed dental care. When Chelsea finished explaining the care Lucky needed she offered me some brochures and said she would be back in a minute with Dr. Joy.
The doctor's exam
MRS. JONES: Finally, Dr. Long entered the room. He was an older man, dressed in jeans and a blue jacket. He greeted me but never acknowledged Buddy. "Sorry to keep you waiting. It's been a long day," he said. "I understand Buddy is here for her vaccinations." I told him Buddy was a boy. Dr. Long told me to put Buddy on the table, and I felt my back strain as I lifted him. Dr. Long looked at Buddy's face and mouth and felt around his body. I wondered what he was doing, but he didn't explain.
Finally, Dr. Long told me that Buddy looked fine and gave him two shots. He said I needed to come back next year for another exam and he would send me a reminder card. He opened the door and sent me back to the receptionist.
MRS. SMITH: After a few moments, Chelsea returned with Dr. Joy. First, Dr. Joy approached Lucky; then Dr. Joy turned to me. "Good morning, Mrs. Smith," she said. "I'm Dr. Joy. It's nice to meet you." Then Dr. Joy turned her attention back to Lucky. She asked whether I had any concerns or problems. I asked about the dental health month and she said that she would check Lucky's teeth.