top of page

The “New Normal” – Optimizing the Client Experience during COVID-19

Updated: May 10

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business owners in just about every industry to get creative and find new and different ways to serve their customers. The veterinary industry is no exception. In an attempt to stay afloat while complying with social distancing recommendations, many clinics have adopted curbside service, asking clients to remain in their vehicles while their pets are being seen. If you are among them, you may be looking for ideas on how to optimize the experience for your clients and their pets. Here’s what we suggest.

Bring your indoor experience outside

You’ve probably worked hard to make your reception area a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for clients. Just because they can’t come into the building right now doesn’t mean you can’t continue to deliver that same positive experience.

Start by explaining the process for curbside service ahead of time to set client expectations. You can also make your clients more comfortable while they wait by providing little perks, like a bottle of water, a cup of coffee or a free WiFi password.

Most importantly, you should enable your clients to speak with the doctor or technician who is working with their pet, to discuss the results of the exam and ask any pressing questions. Ideally this should be done over video chat, as face-to-face interactions are more important now than ever before.

Show them their time is valuable to you

One of the biggest downsides to curbside care is that it removes certain progress cues from the process. For instance, clients can no longer see how many other people are waiting, or determine where their pet is in the process. This can result in perceived inefficiencies, impatience and frustration.

To prevent this, assign spots in the lot by number and provide clear instructions for what to do when a client arrives. Create a new workflow specifically for curbside service so that your team will be able to follow along and stay on track.

Give an accurate estimate on how long things should take and consider offering drop-off for longer appointments. Also, be sure you’ve got the capacity to handle incoming calls. If you’re short staffed or the volume is simply too large, consider a service like UPbook Answers so your clients won’t have to wait unnecessarily.

Make client materials easily accessible

Unfortunately, all those educational leaflets and posters you so thoughtfully displayed and made available in your waiting area are no longer accessible. But client education is no less important now than it was before the pandemic. In fact, some might argue it’s even more critical now.

To ensure that your clients continue to receive the essential information they need to keep their pets happy and healthy, you’ll need to be a little more proactive. One idea is to put together packets for clients to review while waiting in their vehicles.

Another great option is to make this information available electronically and share links to it in your client communications. To improve the likelihood that they actually click those links, try tying in an incentive offer, like a discount. And don’t be afraid to get creative. Instead of just offering reading materials, try sprinkling in some other, more engaging mediums, like videos and infographics.

The current situation we are dealing with is not ideal for anyone. By proactively finding ways to go the extra mile, you and your team can effectively lessen the impact and even turn a negative into something positive. Building trust and managing client relationships is more important now than it’s ever been before, and the three tips above should go a long way toward helping you achieve these goals.

Our Advice on Optimizing the Client Experience during COVID-19 in 2024

How can veterinary practices ensure the safety and well-being of their staff while providing curbside service?

Veterinary practices providing curbside service can ensure the safety and well-being of their staff by implementing strict health and safety protocols. This includes providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, enforcing social distancing between staff members, and regularly disinfecting all contact surfaces. Practices should also establish clear procedures for client interactions that minimize contact, such as using digital communication tools for consultations and updates. Training staff on these new protocols is crucial to ensure they are effectively applied and maintained throughout the service.

What contingency plans should practices have in place for managing curbside service during inclement weather conditions?

To manage curbside service during inclement weather, veterinary practices should have contingency plans that include setting up weather-resistant canopies or tents to protect staff and clients from the elements. Additionally, consider implementing a priority system for services that require less time outside or offer a check-in from vehicles option where clients can wait until staff are ready to receive their pets. Practices should also have clear communication protocols in place to inform clients of any changes or delays due to weather and ensure all staff are trained on these emergency procedures.

How can practices efficiently manage the increased volume of phone calls and client communication that may result from implementing curbside service?

To efficiently manage increased phone call volumes and client communications with curbside service, veterinary practices should consider implementing a dedicated phone system or digital communication tools. Utilizing online scheduling and automated messaging for appointment confirmations, updates, and reminders can reduce phone traffic. For handling real-time inquiries, practices can employ additional staff during peak times or use a virtual receptionist service. Streamlining communication through a client portal or mobile app where clients can access information and receive updates can also significantly enhance efficiency and client satisfaction.

What training or support may be necessary to help veterinary staff adapt to the new workflows?

To help veterinary staff adapt to new workflows, particularly with transitions like curbside service, comprehensive training is essential. This should include detailed sessions on new operational protocols, use of any new technology tools, and effective communication techniques for remote interaction with clients. Additionally, providing support through regular feedback and allowing staff to share their experiences and suggestions can help refine these workflows. It’s also beneficial to offer resources for stress management, as adapting to new systems can be challenging, ensuring staff feel supported throughout the transition.

How can practices gather and incorporate client feedback to continuously improve their curbside service experience?

To continuously improve their curbside service, veterinary practices can gather client feedback through multiple channels, such as digital surveys sent via email or text immediately after appointments, direct calls for more in-depth feedback, and social media interactions. Practices should encourage honest feedback by asking specific questions about various aspects of the curbside experience. Analyzing this data will identify areas for improvement. Regularly updating clients on how their feedback has led to tangible changes not only enhances the service but also boosts client satisfaction and trust in the practice.

Want more practice management tips and tricks? Bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh, relevant content.

What's it like to be a
DVM Elite Member?

Hear from Practice Owners
in our community
Dr. Diana is blown away
Dr. Randy & Beth are transformed
Dr. Leslie can't quite believe it

Dr. Cathie
DVM - Wisconsin

December new clients up 28% over last year!


Dr. Peter achieved time freedom while increasing productivity by implementing the DVM Elite system.


Dr. Laura created a happy and healthy company team and culture through the DVM Elite Dream Team.

randy and beth.png

Beth and Randy were able to maximize their room workflow and productivity for greater profitability.


Dr. Leslie was able to increase her profitability through DVM Elite's Key Strategies.

We do it ALL!


bottom of page