Praise veterinary team members like you should


As much as I want to blame the pharmacist for the terrible customer service, I don't-I blame her manager for not giving enough positive feedback.

I was at my local pharmacy when it happened. After looking up my name, the pharmacist announced that my monthly prescription had expired. "Why didn't you guys give me a heads up that it was about to expire?" I asked. Then she said the four words you should never say to a client, "You should have known."

Ashley Barforoush

Well, I didn't. And I told her that, right after I threw the gum I was going to buy on the counter and stormed out. OK, let's be honest: I neatly placed the gum back in its container under the counter and walked out. But I wasn't smiling— or going back to that pharmacy.

That's what really happens when you assume—you lose clients. That pharmacist made me feel like an idiot. And I'd never dream of asking her another question. I'd be too scared. Maybe she was having a bad day—or maybe she never learned the right and wrong way to talk to customers.

As much as I want to blame the pharmacist for the terrible customer service, I don't—I blame her boss for not giving her enough positive feedback. After all, how are team members supposed to know when they're doing something wrong if they never receive praise for what they're doing right?

Managers, this is where you come in. You need to keep team members from telling clients, "You should have known to vaccinate your dog every year" or "You should have known that indoor cats need regular veterinary care." The best way to do this is through positive feedback.

Stumped on how and when to give praise? Turn to page 9 for advice on how to give meaningful, sincere compliments that demonstrate your true appreciation for co-workers and clients.

Because it doesn't matter what your clients should know—what matters is how you handle the situation when clients are obviously confused, frustrated, or misinformed. What matters is how you educate them for the future.

I hope I have the guts to e-mail this column to my ex-pharmacy so when the manager acts shocked, I can say, "You should have known."

Ashley Barforoush, Associate Editor

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