Cat crisis phone checklist: How veterinary receptionists can help


When cat owners call your veterinary practice, follow these tips to welcome them to your cat-friendly environment.

☑ Express the same enthusiasm and empathy for cats and cat owners that you do for dogs.

☑ Acknowledge and validate the caller's concern or question. It's appropriate to repeat it back so you know you've got it right.

☑ Project a helpful attitude. One of my favorite go-to phrases is, "I can help you with that!"

☑ Use positive language. A few words here and there really make a difference. Instead of saying "No we don't do that" or "We don't have that item in stock," use positive, proactive language. "Our doctors recommend this" or "That item is currently on order. I will take your name and phone number so that, when it arrives, we can contact you right away." Using positive words and phrases show the client you really want to help.

☑ Educate the client first before giving prices. "Our exam fee includes a comprehensive physical examination and consultation with the doctor about any issues kitty may be having. Because every cat has different needs, the doctor will discuss with you which vaccinations are appropriate for kitty's lifestyle. We also offer wellness blood work screening that can help detect any possible problems with organ function."

☑ Toot your own horn. For example, "We cater to cats. Our veterinarians and technicians use low-stress handling techniques. We also use and recommend products to help kitty feel more at home in the office." Do you have cats-only office hours? Separate cat and dog waiting areas? Discounted services or other cat-friendly freebies? Let callers know what's in it for them if they schedule with your practice.

☑ Bring out the big guns. Have at least one or two team members, or AdvoCats, to defer to for difficult questions. Offer to have one of your AdvoCats contact the caller to discuss further.

Jennifer Graham is the client services team leader at Bradford Hills Veterinary Hospital in Wexford, Pa.

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