Orlando — There are many ways to keep clients coming back to a practice, but knowing what customers want is the first crucial step to meeting their needs and desires.
ORLANDO - There are many ways to keep clients coming back to a practice, but knowing what customers want is the first crucial step to meeting their needs and desires.
Surveys can be an important method to gauge how a practice is doing and what it can do to improve service, facilities, curb appeal, and interactions with veterinarians and support staff, says Sheila Grosdidier, RVT, a consultant with Veterinary Management Consultation.
But surveys shouldn't be a shot in the dark; a practice should identify three goals for the information-gathering process, such as reducing wait time, boosting retention of referrals and providing a memorable experience.
A survey should:
"If you are not going to use the information, then there is no reason to make your clients fill out the survey," she says at The North American Veterinary Conference in early January during "Client satisfaction - Measure it right." The presentation was sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition.
Once information has been gathered, then a practice can implement programs and interactive techniques that execute goals. For example, offer gifts cards or inexpensive products to clients that coax their friends and acquaintances to try a new practice, and each new referral should get a little something, too.
"Behavioral science says that a behavior rewarded is a behavior repeated," she says.
Every member of the staff should be involved with informal surveys, too. Simple conversational inquiries, such as "How was your experience today?" can garner invaluable information. For new clients, the questions "What made you leave your other practice?" or "What made you decide to come here?" will yield insights into the competition as well as the word around town. Opportunities for informal surveys exist with veterinarians, technicians, secretaries and accounts payable. Staff incentives, such as carryout lunches or movie tickets, can help motivate employees to buy into the process.
"Ninety-six percent of those who come in and have a problem do not tell you that they have a problem," Grosdidier says. "Instead, they vote with their feet, and we never have an opportunity to know what we did wrong."