VHMA Files: Client loyalty: Are you feeling their love?

March 12, 2017

Experts say it costs between four and 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. And it costs 30 times more to attract a new client than to keep the ones you have. Clearly nurturing client loyalty makes good business sense.

Getty ImagesIn that spirit, the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) asked survey respondents about their strategy for nurturing client loyalty. Do they ramp up the bells and whistles or is it simply enough to offer courteous, respectful and high-quality care? The survey, completed by 107 veterinary professionals, asked respondents to describe how their clients demonstrate loyalty. About half of respondents described loyal clients as those who comply with your team's recommendations and treatment plans. About 25 percent believe that clients who refer friends and family to the practice are demonstrating loyalty. Respondents also consider clients who use a practice's services exclusively to be loyal.

More than 50 percent of respondents say between 51 and 75 percent of their clients are loyal. Slightly more than 50 percent track attrition. Forty-four percent don't track attrition and 5 percent don't know if they track it. Worse yet, less than 50 percent of practices tracking attrition contact clients who don't return.

Why clients don't return

Respondents also speculated about the reasons clients don't return. And 38 percent attributed it to the cost of care. Others cited disappointing customer service (19 percent) and inconvenient location (15 percent), and a small number blamed hours, trust, quality of care, wait time for appointments and continuity of care.

Client loyalty can make or break a business. Getting clients in the door is a first step, but long-term success depends on return customers. 

Sometimes a client immediately clicks with a practice and returns again and again. It's more difficult to follow up with those who have not returned and ask them about their experiences with the practice. Practices that track, follow up and consider client evaluations are more likely to develop a strong following.