This week I went for a minor medical procedure at a (human!) clinic I had never visited before. Although I had complete confidence in their expertise, knowledge and equipment I found myself annoyed and frustrated. Why? Because despite having had a consultation with the doctor a week prior, I wasn’t told what to expect or how much it would cost. On the day of the procedure I was left in a room for 30 minutes with no explanation. When the doctor finally arrived she asked me what I was there for and which treatment I was receiving. As the treatment commenced, I had to ask what was happening, how long it would take and if it would hurt. Halfway through the treatment she asked me if I was aware of the costs involved?
Overall my experience was disappointing. It wasn’t bad enough to complain, but I probably won’t go back.
Allowing clients to leave your practice or hang up the phone feeling anxious or with unanswered questions is a sure-fire way to lose them for good. When we are super busy it’s easy to rush through phone enquiries, surgical admissions or estimates and to assume that the client understands their choices clearly. If you have follow-up procedures in place you may be able to respond to questions and concerns in a phone call later on, but if not they may just take their pet elsewhere.
Here are 3 steps to implement prior to patient admission to ensure that your clients and patients receive a gold class experience every time.
1. Tell the story – step by step.
Whether it’s for a routine desexing or a complicated dental procedure, clients want to know what to expect. The following is typically handled by the admitting surgical nurse, but you can also use an abbreviated version in consult:
“Fluffy will be admitted to hospital and given a sedative to help him feel relaxed. He’ll stay with us for the day and Dr Felix will be performing the surgery. We provide IV fluids in all of our surgeries to help our patients stay hydrated and to maintain blood pressure. This allows for a smoother anaesthetic and faster recovery. Our theatre table is heated to keep Fluffy warm during surgery and we’ll administer some pain relief before he wakes up. We’ll also give you a call when he’s in recovery to arrange a discharge appointment for later in the day. He’ll go home with an e-collar to stop him from licking his sutures and some more pain relief to take home along with some after-care instructions. Then we’ll see him 10-14 days later for a re-check.”
2. Invite questions, address concerns and gain agreement.
“Have you been through this procedure with a pet before?”
“Is there anything else that you’d like to ask?”
“How does that sound to you?”
3. Provide take-home information.
When clients are anxious or distracted they may not remember everything you’ve told them. Provide instructional pamphlets or an email to explain fasting and other pre-surgical requirements. After-care information will assist with compliance and patient recovery and will help to reassure the client about what to expect. They will then have another opportunity to ask questions when you call to follow-up on their pet’s progress.
Some clients are simply too embarrassed to ask questions. By taking the time to give a step by step explanation of a surgical procedure and by being available to answer questions, you will help your client to feel more confident about their pet’s care. They are then much more likely to re-book, write a positive review or tell their friends.