Lead by following up with phone calls to clients


Checking up on your patients can strengthen your bond between with clients-and keep your patients healthy.

When you make follow-up calls in the 24- to 48-hour period after a hospitalized pet has been discharged, you not only differentiate your practice from others but also produce a powerful emotional connection with clients. What's more, these calls often turn up clinical issues that need to be addressed.

Follow-up calls can be made by a veterinary technician or by a doctor between appointments. The calls need not be time-consuming—the idea is just for a team member to touch base with clients and check on the status of your patients. Ask quality-focused questions such as:

> "Do you have any questions about Daisy's discharge (or home care) instructions?"

> "Do you have any questions about Daisy's medications? Are you aware of possible side effects?"

> "Have you had a chance to reschedule Daisy's recheck appointment?"

Occasionally, discharged pets display clinical signs that clients weren't expecting. Usually these pet owners just need a little reassurance, a reminder of your home-care instructions, an adjustment in medication type or dosage, or other instructions depending on the clinical signs.

Sometimes follow-up calls uncover situations that require further attention—perhaps even a return visit to the hospital. But most often, they simply give clients peace of mind about the situation and show your genuine interest in them and their pets.

Research in human medicine shows that the likelihood of a patient recommending a hospital is above the 90th percentile when he or she receives a follow-up call. Would your clients do the same for your veterinary hospital? You might need to call them to find out.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is the author of 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).

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