In life, especially in business, first impressions are everything. In fact, the first interaction a client has with your practice could directly influence whether or not he or she decides to return or go elsewhere. But what about second, third and fourth impressions? The truth is, ongoing good service is essential in veterinary medicine – particularly because the cost of acquiring a new customer is far greater than that of keeping an existing one. If your practice is hitting low grades on the client service end of the spectrum, read on to learn how it could impact your bottom line for many years to come.
Elements of a Positive Client Experience
The best way to figure out what would qualify as a great client experience is to turn the tables. That is, put yourself in the shoes of your clientele. What elements of your service would really make a positive impact? For instance, could it be warm, friendly greetings from your front desk team? Open, honest communication? Shorter wait times? Personal and engaging interactions with doctors and support staff? Don’t forget the little touches, like offering toys for patients to play with or treats to help win them over.
In reality, when it comes to client experience, there is so much to consider. Once you’ve identified the type of high-level service you want your practice to be associated with, it’s important to ensure that every member of the team is onboard. That means training and regular reinforcement of your practice values. It also means being deliberate in your hiring activities to make sure anyone you welcome to the team is a solid fit with your practice culture. It takes a conscious effort to deliver exceptional service, but it is well worth it in the long run.
The Impact of Service on Business Results
The folks at Zendesk recently shared the results of a survey they conducted of over a thousand US consumers. The goal of the research was to gain a better understanding of customer expectations and to quantify the impact of client service on overall business results. Of the comprehensive findings, two key things in particular really stood out:
- Good customer service influences buying choices, which directly impacts long-term revenue potential
- Customers remember poor experiences far longer than they recall good ones
In the veterinary industry, the way we treat our clients is what will make or break our future success. When a client has a positive experience, not only are they more likely to stay on long-term, but they’re also more apt to invest in additional services. Why? Because good service builds trust, and when a client trusts what you recommend, they’re more likely to follow through.
With regards to the second point, consistently delivering good service may win you a referral or two (which is great), but poor service will almost definitely result in a bad review. This can be damaging to your reputation for many years to come. In other words, the bad often far outweighs the good.
Client Service Influences Future Buying Behaviors
Among the Zendesk survey respondents, 87% of those who had good service with a business stated that their experience influenced their future buying behavior. Specifically, 67% said they’d recommend the business to others while 54% said they’d purchase more from that business.
Poor client experiences have a much more significant impact, as a full 97% say bad service would change their future buying decisions. Of those surveyed, 58% said they’d stop doing business with the company, 52% said they’d switch to another company for that service and another 52% said they’d actively tell others not to do business with the company in question.
The numbers don’t lie. Poor client service will not only drive your current clients away, but it will likely impact your ability to win business from new prospects as well. Can your practice really afford that?
Conversely, a veterinary practice that focuses on its clients establishes a solid foundation for ongoing and future success. Happy clients will keep coming back, year after year, and will gladly tell their friends and family about their great experience, which will result in referral business. Those friends and family members will then refer others in their own networks, and so on. It’s the snowball effect.
At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone. But if you make it your mission to deliver the best possible service with each and every interaction – and engrain that concept into the very fabric of your practice culture – you’ll consistently reap the rewards of your efforts through the life-long client relationships you’ll build. And that’s worth its weight in gold.