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