One of the realities we live with is that clients form impressions on their first visit based on what they see, hear and smell. It’s an old adage that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
That is the topic that we describe in our article, “The Experience That Makes the Difference,” appearing in the November, 2015 issue of Trends magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association.
Sheri Berger, DVM, DACVO, writing in VetVine, describes the first impression she had when she visited a hospital. It was to her an eye-opening experience when she became aware of the “visceral” response she had upon visiting a hospital. There her visit began with a greeting “May I take your coat?” and continued with open communication every step of the way.
Her story underscores the fact that what influences clients’ return is not the competency of the medical practitioner or the equipment available, but rather a perception, a feeling, about the experience.
A Harris healthcare poll in 2004 found that 85% of respondents regard as extremely important the doctor who “listens,” “treats you with dignity and respect” and “takes your concern seriously.” Only 58% regarded the doctor’s medical knowledge as most important.
Berger found that the communication she experienced – communicating what will happen, what is happening and what has happened – demonstrated respect for her. When staff passed her on to another staff member, they let her know, and the next staff member underscored what she’d learned from the previous staff member. What teamwork! The staff really listened to her and to each other.
The driver that results in client returns is not medical competency. It is being heard and the perception of acceptance. Courtesy and customer relations are more important than outcomes and efficiency. We recognize Nordstrom and the Ritz Carlton for this. They understand that the enemy of courtesy is not rudeness; it is avoidance. Clients want to be heard.
To read more about experiences that some veterinary hospitals have provided, watch for future blogs or read the entire article in Trends magazine.
That’s it for now.
Carolyn and John
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