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Communication with Your Client

October 16, 2017

October Focus: Client Experience – More than the Services

Part three – communication with your client

For the last two weeks, we have discussed looking at your hospital through the eyes of the client, and provided some questions and ideas to ponder in order to improve the client’s experience. We want to challenge you to really experience your hospital from the eyes of the CLIENT. Now we will tackle the idea of communication. What exactly are you saying to your client?

BE CLEAR AND USE APPROPRIATE LANGUAGE

Many years ago I attended a Colorado State Board Regulatory meeting where a case was presented concerning a dog with carcinoma. While the veterinary staff felt they were discussing the diagnosis and treatment options in an appropriate manner to the client, they were using medical terminology. The clients kept approving the treatments offered never realizing, until the end, that their dog had cancer. The “c” word was never used.

While there was more to that case, the point is does your staff speak plainly to your clients at a level they understand? How do you communicate the options without being overwhelming? Have all the instructions been presented and understood by the client? You might be checking out the tenth spay of the day, but to the client, it’s the first one!

BE THE EXPERT

When people spend money, they want to know that they are making the right decision. Clients must see you as a resource, a confidante and a solution so that they can make solid, informed decisions for their pets. Provide descriptions of your products and services so that they understand. If possible, you should experience your products or services firsthand so you can better relay the information to your customers.

Phrases to avoid:

  • “Do you want…”
  • “Would you like…”
  • “Do you need…”
  • “Is it okay/alright…”

Use these instead (implies an understanding):

  • “What several/some/a few people do…”  (avoid words like “all” or “most” unless you can truly justify it)
  • “What I recommend and/or what I’ve seen others do…”
  • “Based on what you are doing/need, here is a great way to go/do…”
  • “Based on what you told me…”

TALK PRODUCT, NOT PRICE

  • Build up your product first.
  • Make sure the client understands exactly what the product does, or what the procedure will be. Use visual aids and basic language. Informed consent means they know what is happening.
  • Show the client the value of what has been offered. Make sure the entire team presents the same message. Your client will lose confidence in your medical abilities if everyone isn’t on the same page and supports the recommendations. Make sure the team understands why a certain value has been set for any given product so that it’s easier to explain to the client.
  • When discussing the price, make sure to communicate the value!
  • Consider offering affordable options like pet insurance or third party payments?

We challenge you to step back and really listen to what is being said in your hospital. It is truly an art form to have clear, concise language that is at the level the owner grasps and covers all the material without being overwhelming.  With practice and understanding, good communication styles can lead to an extraordinary experience for your clients.

Yours in Client Experience,

Rebecca Rose, CVT