The client service mindset
Parasite season is a busy time for most veterinary hospitals. It’s the time of year when the client experience is most likely to suffer due to competing demands on staff time. But it’s also a great opportunity to impress a large number of clients with amazing service.
There are seven traits that great client service providers need to have to deliver a superior client experience:
- Empathy – Empathy is the capacity to understand, be aware of and sensitive to the feelings, thoughts and experiences of your clients. It means putting yourself in your client’s shoes. They want to know they have been heard and understood no matter how large or small their problem. They want to know that you see the problem from their point of view. A caring, empathetic tone lets the client know you’ve heard their concern, even more than the words you use. Clients don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
- Enthusiasm – Whether it’s greeting the client, providing assistance or thanking a client, a high level of energy known as enthusiasm, is a key ingredient in providing great service. Your enthusiasm influences your effectiveness in providing a positive client experience, because it affects how clients perceive your willingness to help. Enthusiastic people enjoy helping others and show it with a positive attitude and high energy. They enjoy being proactive and going the extra mile.
- Ownership – Taking ownership is about making a commitment to be a problem-solver. It’s the opposite of the “That’s not my job” mentality, which shifts the responsibility for resolving a problem to someone else. Ownership makes a clear connection that says, “Don’t worry. I’m going to figure this out for you,” which more effectively represents you and the company. Step up and take ownership of the challenges that come your way.
- Responsibility – it’s essential to demonstrate to your clients and co-workers that you follow through on your commitments and take responsibility for what you said you would do. Colleagues need to know they can rely on each other to be on time for a scheduled shift or meeting. As the saying goes, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” Follow-through and dependability demonstrate a service mentality of responsibility and help to create trust.
- Adaptability – Being adaptable is having the flexibility to deal effectively with different types of clients and situations. Clients are diverse, so adaptability is crucial. Aging populations, as well as language and cultural differences can make providing excellent service more challenging, but people who are adaptors are accepting and tolerant. An adaptor’s mindset is demonstrated by their ability to respond and react positively in a wide variety of situations.
- Balance – it’s important to be able to balance satisfying the client with the resources and needs of your clinic. If the effort to satisfy a client goes too far, it can put your clinic out of balance. For example, if a client complains about a fee they were charged for their pet’s treatment, it’s tempting to give them a discount or not charge them for the service. But such a response is unfair to the practice. If a fee dispute occurs, acknowledge the client’s feelings (acknowledgement doesn’t mean you agree). Then take the time to explain the fees being charged, emphasizing the importance of each service or product provided to the health of the client’s pet. Clients need to feel they have been heard and treated fairly.
- Resilience – is having the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity. Dealing with the public means occasionally encountering frustrated and rude people, so the ability to remain positive and snap back from a negative experience is important. Being resilient allows team members to remain calm in adverse situations or recover quickly from a crisis and not get discouraged. We need to be able to bounce back emotionally and handle those setbacks professionally, never taking out frustrations on clients or co-workers.
Delivering exceptional client service helps a great veterinary hospital stand out from the competition. A high-performing client-facing employee requires a client service mindset. Becoming more aware of these seven traits is the first step to more effective client interactions.
By Terra Shastri – Director of Business Development & Strategic Initiatives, Ontario Veterinary Medical Association
Posted April 19, 2019