© 2023 MJH Life Sciences™ and dvm360 | Veterinary News, Veterinarian Insights, Medicine, Pet Care. All rights reserved.
A lesson from Firstline Live: Lock in client compliance with good communication
There's a simple reason my practice's compliance rate was twice the AAHA compliance study numbers. It's communication," says Dr. Ernest E. Ward Jr., a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and owner of Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C. Dr. Ward spoke at Firstline Live at CVC East in Baltimore about how to improve communication and boost compliance.
“There's a simple reason my practice's compliance rate was twice the AAHA compliance study numbers. It's communication,” says Dr. Ernest E. Ward Jr., a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and owner of Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C. Dr. Ward spoke at Firstline Live at CVC East in Baltimore about how to improve communication and boost compliance.
“You must connect with clients or they won't listen to your recommendations,” Dr. Ward says. He offers these communication tips to connect with clients:
* Dress about 10 percent better than your clients. Clients are very aware of subtle cues your appearance sends, and a professional appearance builds your credibility. Remember, Dr. Ward says, 55 percent of communication is visual, 38 percent is audible, and only 7 percent is the content of what you're saying.
* Always greet the client with direct eye contact and a smile. Raised eyebrows convey openness and interest, wide eyes demonstrate interest or passion.
* Focus on the pet and address both the client and pet by name. Make sure you know the pet's gender.
* Assume a subordinate position and posture when possible. Studies show most women prefer to communicate with someone who's slightly below their eye level. A seated position is best, because it signals you have plenty of time to listen to the client's needs. “A stool is the most important piece of equipment in your practice,” Dr. Ward says.
* Hold your head up, maintain good posture with shoulders pulled back, and place your hands on your hips. You want a relaxed, open body position with elbows out that conveys confidence.
* Point your feet toward the client. Your feet point will naturally where your interest lies, and clients notice this subtle cue, even if they don't know they do.
* Analyze your voice. Make it warm, even when clients' voices escalate.
* Get physical. Greet clients with a handshake or a pat on the shoulder to demonstrate that you're attentive and sincere. In the United States, it's appropriate to touch someone's arm from the elbows down. It's also acceptable to pat the shoulders or upper back.
* Don't lecture clients. Instead, ask questions to determine their needs.
* Acknowledge your clients' concerns, no matter how trivial. Use visual aids and written discharge instructions to reinforce your message.
“If you focus on communication, you'll improve compliance, increase your standards of care, increase job satisfaction, and ultimately improve staff retention,” Dr. Ward says.