We’re all in this together.
Great! Except that it doesn’t always feel like that. When you work in an industry that’s emotive by nature and alternately full of joy and heartbreak, the sudden absence of physical touch can have the potential to create a disconnect in our client relationships if not anticipated and handled appropriately.
The veterinary profession is enriched by caring individuals who are empathetic and compassionate by nature. Pet owners often consider their veterinarian to be an extended member of their family. We share intensely personal and heartfelt moments with our clients and patients, sometimes across many years and generations.
For many of us, it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. So at a time when tensions are high and people are edgy, changes to normal routines such as taking a pet to the vet can become incredibly stressful. It’s up to us to find new ways to communicate with our clients across the divide, to reassure them and to show them that we still care.
The Tyranny of Distance
Clients have been generally understanding about Zero Contact protocols, however some have also admitted that they felt distressed at having to hand their cat over outside or leave their dog tethered in a designated area.
Old school customer service practices such as coming out from behind the reception desk to greet clients and patients, or crowding a whole family into a consult room to say goodbye now seem foreign. The gestures we took for granted – a squeeze of the shoulder, a gentle pat on the arm – gone.
As well as preventing our ability to provide physical comfort or reassurance, the barriers required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can also create an emotional distance. It’s much more difficult to convey empathy when half of your face is covered with a mask, or from the other side of a camera lens.
With a recession imminent, pet owners will also be under more pressure to shop around and look for cheaper veterinary services and products. With this in mind it’s more important than ever that we don’t drop the ball on customer care.
Closing The Gap
The implementation of restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are challenging and may seem somewhat extreme to pet owners. However deployment of new technologies and efficiencies in practice are an exciting by-product and will most definitely have a positive impact on the way we deliver pet health outcomes in the future.
If we are able to educate our clients, keep them involved and anticipate their needs, the transition will become much smoother.
With limited face to face contact, increasing your frequency of contact via phone & video calls, social media, and newsletters has become more important than ever. Proactively reaching out affords you the opportunity to check in with your clients and address any concerns they may have. They need to know that you haven’t forgotten about their pet.
It may also be good practice to pre-book appointments for patients receiving regular care and to ensure that reminders are being followed up for routine treatments and preventative healthcare.
A Vet Nurse Will Never Be Replaced By A Chatbot!
At the end of the day, veterinary teams are warm blooded, caring individuals with beating hearts and a love of animals! This is something we share with our clients that cannot be cloned or automated. Thankfully bots are one trend in this new world of customer service efficiencies that we can disregard!
Let’s not forget to take care of each other too so that we can offer a confident, calm, caring and united front to our clients and patients.
Be kind, be patient, be human.