Clients for Life: Going the Extra Mile


Do team members go out of their way to help clients, to solve problems, and to improve the system?

staff member on the phone

Do you know what your employees are doing when you’re not watching? Are they chatting or texting about their personal lives, shopping online, watching YouTube videos, or updating their Facebook status? Or are they self-starters—people who take on and complete projects without any prompting?


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Consider these anecdotal snippets from my life:

  • One morning I entered a coffee shop affiliated with a well-known national chain and noticed that a single employee was taking all phone calls, all mobile orders, and all walk-in orders and preparing all drinks—by himself. Without a single misstep, he performed all these duties effortlessly, with a positive attitude and a smile. I was so impressed that I called the corporate office to let them know what a rock star he is. Now every time I’m in that area, I choose that coffee shop over others just because of his work ethic.
  • After a few days spent snorkeling, I returned the mask I had bought on the island. I explained to the cashier that the mask did not have a tight seal and I regularly had to empty water out of the mask. His reply: “Oh yeah, like, you know, it must be, like…too big.” He then proceeded to give me a refund without a hint of an apology for the poor quality of the product. Even worse, it apparently didn’t cross his mind that I was likely going to snorkel again in the future and that I was, therefore, clearly in the market for a tighter mask. Needless to say, I left the store without purchasing anything.
  • A colleague recently told me how disappointed he felt when he discovered that for years, his hospital manager had diverted gifts and gift cards offered by various suppliers after the hospital had made certain purchases. You know, “Buy so many boxes of product ABC and get a $50 Amazon gift card.” The practice owner had delegated these negotiations to his trusted manager, so he did not know about the perks—or that they had ended up in his manager’s pocket. A few years later, the owner met a rep from one of those companies at a professional event. They talked about the company’s next big promotion, and the rep explained that the incentive would be the same as in previous years: The hospital would receive a generous gift card.
  • Veterinary clinics usually have several choices of local pharmacies to call in prescriptions. One employee at a pharmacy near one of my practices routinely goes beyond the call of duty to help animals. On multiple occasions, he has filled prescriptions minutes before closing, when most of his colleagues would simply wait until the next day. Once, right before closing, he waited for a technician to arrive to pick up a medication for a cardiac patient in trouble. Because of this employee, my hospital uses and recommends only this pharmacy, even though it’s not the closest one.


Similar behaviors, good or bad, are observed commonly at veterinary clinics, in the manager’s office, in exam rooms, in the operating room, at the front desk, or in treatment rooms.

Do your receptionists promptly acknowledge clients walking in? How do they handle price shoppers? Do they listen to clients or interrupt them constantly? Do they strive to help them find a solution to their problem?

Do staff members say things that are rude or inappropriate in public areas? Even when they take place in the treatment room, jokes, laughter, and loud comments can often be heard in exam rooms and sometimes at very inopportune moments, such as during a euthanasia.

Are your colleagues proactive? Do team members go out of their way to help clients, to solve problems, and to improve the system?

Every day, we all make choices. We can be remembered for our carelessness and bad attitude—or for our exemplary efforts and work ethics.

A.J. Debiasse, a technician in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this article.

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. His traveling surgery practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his websites at DrPhilZeltzman.comand

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