When it comes to keeping your clients happy, there’s more to it than just delivering quality medical care. Today’s veterinary clients are looking for a great service all around, and it starts with a positive experience in the waiting area. Does your reception area make people and pets alike feel welcome, safe and comfortable? Are you doing enough to minimize the amount of time that’s spent waiting for appointments and making that time as pleasant as possible? If not, here are a few changes you might want to consider making.
Develop and Implement Policies – First and foremost, you want to take measures to proactively avoid your welcome area becoming a chaotic environment. To do this, create a set of rules and expectations, like all dogs must be leashed and smaller animals crated for safety purposes. Make sure front desk staff is well-versed in and prepared to enforce these policies.
Focus on Comfort – Obviously the goal is to get clients and patients out of the waiting area and into the exam room as quickly as possible, but there will inevitably be instances when there are delays or a certain amount of lag time. Prepare for those situations by making sure your lobby is designed with comfort in mind, such as with comfortable furniture, soothing colors and relaxing music.
Provide Extras – Offering additional amenities can really help bring your waiting room experience to the next level. For instance, some veterinary clinics now provide the option to watch television, play on tablets and enjoy complementary beverages while waiting. This can pass the time in a more pleasant manner, which will lend to a better overall experience for everyone.
Keep Them Separate – From a patient perspective, having to share the reception area with a variety of different species and other unfamiliar animals can be incredibly stressful. This can result in a negative overall experience, which is never good for delivering care. You can prevent this to some degree by offering separate waiting areas for different species. If you don’t have the space, using room dividers is another option.
Clear the Air – One of the biggest complaints people have about spending time in the waiting room of a veterinary clinic is the distinct odors that abound, many of which can be pretty unpleasant. The use of air purifiers, plug in air fresheners and specially designed HVAC systems can help reduce the undesirable smells and create a more breathable, fresh environment – something everyone can appreciate (including your employees).
Sharing is Caring – Take advantage of the time you have to capture and hold your clients’ attention by using the waiting room as a place to showcase and share your celebrations as a practice. Highlight employee accomplishments and share thank you cards, letters of appreciation and other correspondences you’ve received from clients. Build and foster relationships by displaying photos that clients have shared of their beloved pets. Encourage others to share their own images or stories so everyone can enjoy them!
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and the experience in your waiting area will be that first connection for many. For others, the experience they have will determine whether or not they will keep coming back. The tips listed above can help you transform your reception area into a welcome environment that promotes client retention and may even result in word-of-mouth referrals, which is always the ultimate goal.