Veterinary receptionists: You only have a few minutes to win over phone shoppers. Learn how to stand out from the crowd.
The phone is one of the most overlooked and underused tools in the veterinary clinic, says Dr. Amanda Donnelly, MBA, owner of ALD Veterinary Consulting in Rockledge, Fla. During one of her practice management sessions at CVC Washington, D.C., she shared her experience playing the dreaded price shopper.
“I called six practices in the area and asked about vaccines,” Dr. Donnelly says. “No one had pride in his or her service. No one was enthusiastic to turn me into a client.” Only one receptionist mentioned the value of a physical exam and two tried to book appointments.
Receptionists: Do you have a good phone presence? Keep these tips in mind to convert callers into clients.
1. Ignore the chaos. Phone shoppers don’t know that you’re behind schedule and super swamped—and frankly they don’t care. Your tone of voice is critical and needs to be really positive every time you answer the phone, Dr. Donnelly says. If you aren’t excited about your clinic, how can you expect anyone else to be?
2. Ask the right questions. “Always ask the caller, ‘Are you new to the area? Have we seen your pet before?’” Dr. Donnelly says. That way you’ll get a better idea of how to approach the phone shopper. Either way, make sure it’s clear you’d love to for him or her to come into the clinic.
3. Forget the script. Dr. Donnelly doesn’t believe in phone scripts. “I believe in talking to each client in an engaging way,” she says. An easy way to connect with the caller is to learn his or her name early in the conversation and use it often. This will show you care and pay attention to details.
4. Know your stuff. Be honest: Do you know why Scooter needs to come in for vaccines on Monday? “If receptionists make recommendations they can’t explain it will look like they’re just trying to sell products,” Dr. Donnelly says.
5. Speak the client’s language. When confirming appointments, don’t tell clients to remember the fecal. “Call it a stool sample—everyone will know what you’re talking about,” Dr. Donnelly says.
6. Sing your clinic’s praises. Every clinic should create a “proud statement” that sums up why your team rocks. That way, when you wrap up the conversation you can say something like, “Amanda, we’d love to see Chloe! We have a dedicated team and Dr. Smith is the best doctor around.”
When these potential clients price shop, they’ll discover most clinics’ fees are the same, Dr. Donnelly says. “That’s why you have to stand out if you’re really going to convert callers into clients.”