Are your clients advocates, apathetics, or assassins?


The tales clients tell can poison or profit your practice.

The name J.D. Power and Associates is synonymous with measuring customer satisfaction and helping businesses understand what customers really want. Use J.D. Power's three customer categories to decode your clients so they'll put their power to work for you.

1. Advocates

This is what you want all your clients to be or become. In order to create an advocate, a practice must go beyond the expected level of service and quality to orchestrate a truly memorable client experience. Advocates:

> are fiercely loyal, refusing to switch even in the face of aggressive promotions from competitors.

> will suffer inconvenience to purchase your services over the competition's and may be willing to pay a premium for the privilege.

> tend to proselytize, telling anyone who'll listen—and even some who won't—about their experiences. They become your best salespeople.

2. Apathetics

Clients are apathetic when you meet only their basic expectations. You may not cause them any problems, but you don't amaze them either. Though they can be loyal, apathetics:

> won't endure inconvenience, make a special effort to use your services, or pay a premium price.

> are susceptible to a competitor's advances and often need only minor inducements to switch.

> keep their mouths shut and tend not to speak about their client experiences, good or bad.

3. Assassins

An assassin is born when you fail to meet a client's basic expectations or fail to rectify a problem once it has occurred. Assassins:

> seek out your competition, defecting even if they have to pay more or suffer inconvenience to switch.

> are 50 percent more likely to tell someone about a bad experience than an advocate is to tell someone about a great experience.

Action steps: Now that you know your clients, turn apathetics and assassins into advocates by keeping these suggestions in mind:

> Client satisfaction must be an integral part of your practice culture.

> Make financial and strategic decisions targeted toward long-term client satisfaction, even at the expense of short-term profits.

"Client satisfaction" isn't just a phrase. It's a commitment that you and your team should take seriously. As J.D. Power III has said, "The customer's voice is louder and clearer than ever, and attention must be paid."

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker and writer based in Roslyn, N.Y. His newest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).

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