Team buy-in: What veterinary client surveys need to work


The real work of client surveys is how to use those results to help your practice.

The first step in a great survey is crafting good questions and getting them in front of clients. But the real work is how you use those results to help your practice. Here's an example of how one practice made it their “mission” to start asking the right questions.

Animal Medical of New City in New City, N.Y., used to administer a run-of-the-mill, “Did someone pick up the phone within the first three rings?” survey. Any negative results that were shared with the team seemed to point fingers or assign blame:

The team member role in surveys

  Team members are always eager to know how clients feel about their service experience. And asking clients to fill out a survey says, “This is our mission and we're working hard to achieve it.” Getting everyone on the team involved in the process increases acceptance of the results and willingness to make indicated changes. Here are some team member-focused survey tips:

> When building a survey, involve the team by giving them an outline of what you propose rather than a blank slate. This keeps them on task and on target.

> Discuss with your team how clients might respond to the proposed questions and what everyone can do to improve in response to the answers.

> Once the survey is complete, ask your technicians to take a few minutes to introduce clients to the website and where to find the survey. It's a great way to both inform the client that the survey exists and to underline the many valuable resources available on your website.  

> At checkout, client care representatives can ask the client's permission to email a link to the survey. That's a double-opportunity: get the survey completed and confirm the client's email address!

> Once the results are in, hold a team meeting to share survey responses. The group can discuss the meaning of the mission statement, the implications of the survey results and ideas for improvement as well as outline an action plan for moving forward.


Boss: “How come we only have a 70 percent success rate with picking up the phone on the first three rings?”

Team member: “Because the new receptionist you hired could never manage to be here for two consecutive days-duh!”

When we switched to a mission-based survey and started asking such as, “Did the team seem to enjoy working with one another?” the results spurred a much more productive discussion. Now we were talking about teamwork and identifying roadblocks to efficiency and service. It shifted the focus away from individuals and individual departments and became a question of how the entire hospital came across to the client. Truly great service experiences are not just the result of individual effort, but are the product of an organized, group focus on clients. The changes to the survey jump-started thinking on how to take Animal Medical's service to a higher level of care.

Bash Halow, CVPM, LVT, is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and co-owner of Halow Tassava Consulting.

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