In the veterinary industry, we often find ourselves navigating client conversations filled with emotional landmines and potential for blow-ups. For our younger team members and inexperienced trainees, talking to clients can be a daunting and often overwhelming prospect.
Here are my 6 tips for overcoming the fear of rejection, refusal or customer dissatisfaction.
- If you have nothing else in common with your client, remember that you still have one shared goal. The well-being of their pet.
- Always be thinking “How can I help?” Focus on the objective. What is the optimum outcome for your patient, the client and your practice? How can you meet them halfway? Demonstrating compassion is the fastest way to overcome nerves and a fear of coming across as insincere or ‘salesy’.
- Show a genuine interest in what the client has to say. Maintain eye contact, don’t interrupt and ask questions.
For example instead of launching into a spiel about what your wellness plan includes, ask targetted questions such as “Fluffy is now 8 years old. Have you noticed many changes as he gets older?” or “Is Fluffy up to date with his flea and worm treatments?”
Let the client do the talking. They will tell you what they are concerned about so that you can offer the right solutions.
- Use questions rather than just stating your opinions to appear more rational and sensitive and open. For example instead of saying “You didn’t show up for Fluffy’s appointment today” ask “What happened with Fluffy’s appointment today? We missed you!”
- Offer choices. Instead of saying “When would you like to bring Fluffy in to see us?”, ask “Would you prefer a morning or an afternoon appointment?”
- Pre-empt customer concerns. If you see the client’s brow furrow or they look at their watch while you are talking to them, interrupt what you are saying and acknowledge it head-on. e.g. “You seem to be concerned about that. Do you have any questions I can answer before we proceed?” or “I’m sorry – I understand if now is not a good time. How about I give you a brochure and then give you a call next week to follow up?”
Ask your junior team members why they got into the veterinary industry and they’ll most likely tell you it’s because they wanted to work with animals. The reality is that our work is more often about people. Coaching them in people skills will help to build confidence resulting in happy teams, satisfied clients, healthy patients and a thriving practice.