From angry client to appreciative

October 25, 2019
Tammy Wages

A cat owner really laid into a veterinary receptionist, so this 2019 dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year finalist modeled calm listening and client education for the startled CSR.

auremar/stock.adobe.comAs a manager, it's so important and vital to lead by example and to protect your flock. My employees are my responsibility. How they respond and react in a work environment is a direct reflection of me and the standards and protocols I've set.


Tammy Wages is one of 10 finalists for 2019 dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year. Learn more about the contest and read more stories from other entrants, finalists and winners at

The rubber really met the road with this philosophy with a recent incident with a new client. A gentleman came in upset that his cat, who'd been in recently, had fleas. He came in complaining to our receptionist that he'd given the cat an over-the-counter flea product, and he accused a doctor, a technician, a groomer and now the receptionist that the cat had picked up the fleas on a visit to our hospital.

I happened to walk by the front desk just as he was leaning over the counter, yelling at our receptionist. She looked defeated and paralyzed with fear. She clearly wasn't sure how to proceed. I gently inserted myself into the situation, and after spending a few minutes quietly and actively listening to his accusations and frustrations, I took the time to educate him about how flea preventives work. I showed him a handout that explained fleas better and the overall importance of treating his entire environment, not just the cat. I offered him a month's sample of a flea preventive we recommend. He was very appreciative, and the receptionist looked relieved.

Some favorite handouts

What parasite handouts does my practice use? We use handouts for Zoetis' Revolution Plus and Boehringer Ingelheim's Frontline Gold. We also recommend Flea Stoppers carpet powder and use their wonderful handout. I also have had handouts from dvm360 laminated: “Where fleas really live” and “Creating a tick-free zone in your backyard.” We use these every day.

After the client left, I sat down with her and asked what happened, how she felt and whether-after listening to me explain to the client different recommendations for managing fleas-how comfortable she now felt talking about fleas and flea products with more confidence. She asked a few more questions and said she felt much more empowered to discuss flea products in the future with clients. She also expressed her gratitude that I stepped into the confrontation and “defended” her.

Tammy Wages is practice owner and medical manager at Cat Care of Fayette in Fayetteville, Georgia.