The Golden Girls are veterinary clients, too

November 18, 2016
Hannah Wagle, Associate Content Specialist

Paying attention to generational differences in your clients is about more than millennials. Take a look at what your older veterinary clients want from you.

"When I turn my hearing-aid up to ten, I can hear a canary break wind in Lauderdale!" Photo: Joe Seer / It's everywhere you look these days: everything from everyone on how to handle the millennial generation as clients. But let's take a step back for a second and think of what the veterinary world is shrugging off in order to pay attention to the new up-and-comers.

According to the Administration on Aging's 2014 Profile of Older Americans, by the year 2040 the generation of pet owners aged 65 and over will be at around 82.3 million. That's 82.3 million people who won't want to text you, consult Dr. Google or check out your Facebook and Twitter accounts, right?

Wrong. If there's anything you should learn about working with people from any generation, it's that you shouldn't boil down, or homo-GEN-ize (see what I did there?), an entire population of people. In fact, don't think of people as stereotypes, ever. Instead, let patient-driven communication lead the way. Ask open-ended questions in order to get a better feel for who your client is, what they're like and how they deal with their pets.

This also means that you shouldn't treat your older clients like the real-life version of that cute Instagram photo you saw yesterday of an old man waiting for his wife at the train station with a bouquet of flowers. Talking to them using short, sing-song words and calling them by terms of endearment, like “sweetie” or “cutie," won't gain favor with them. Make eye contact, address them professionally (e.g. "Ms. Smith") and don't rush a conversation.