Practice Survival: 5 mistakes your veterinary office receptionist is making on the phone - DVM
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Practice Survival: 5 mistakes your veterinary office receptionist is making on the phone
Communicating effectively over the phone is just as important as in person. Here's how to make sure your veterinary team does it right.


2. Offering no solution

Clients call the practice every day looking for help. They're letting you know that their pets have a problem that you can help them solve. By calling, these pet owners are also telling you that they're willing to spend money to solve their pets' problems, and yet most receptionists seldom offer solutions for their issues.

When they call, the most important thing is for team members to try to understand the caller's problem and offer a solution. If it's something simple, like a request for a prescription refill, they should work with the caller to find a convenient time for him or her to pick up the prescription, or sign the client up for your prescription home delivery plan.

Make sure team members listen intently so they can offer a customized solution that fits the caller's situation. Even seemingly simple requests like filling a prescription can backfire if your team does not handle it well. Clients don't understand why they can't come in at closing time and expect to get a prescription at the last minute, or why the prescription requires the veterinarian's approval or a lab test before you can fill it. Training prepares team members to address different scenarios like this with empathy and skill.

The worst failure to solve clients' problems occurs when callers ask for advice about pets that are just "not themselves." In all cases, the best answer is to invite clients to bring the pets in to see a veterinarian. This offers the pet owner peace of mind—if he or she was concerned enough to make a call, the pet owner has a problem that he or she needs someone to solve. It's amazing how many team members fail to offer this simple solution, often out of the misguided notion that they will appear pushy when in fact it's the best solution for pets and clients.

3. Focusing on money

Price shoppers are not necessarily bargain hunters. But we turn them into one by responding to their questions about prices with little else beyond the information they've requested. Simply giving callers a price is the wrong approach. It makes the conversation about money and not about their pets. In today's economy, almost everyone is worried about costs. There is a real probability that these callers may be responsible pet owners who just want to see if they can afford the visit. Another possibility is that they believe preventive veterinary care, such as vaccinations, is a commodity and the only difference is the price.

Challenge your team members to see price shoppers differently and change the conversation they have with them. Make the conversation about the pet. Team members should give the caller a taste of what he or she can expect to experience at your practice. They should ask what the pet's name is and use it in the conversation. They should also ask if the pet owner has any special problems or concerns, and then they should address those concerns as they provide the fee range for the services that he or she has inquired about. Finally, your team should give the caller a reason to believe that making an appointment with your hospital is the best choice for the caller and his or her pet. Always try to include a point of differentiation that fits your branding to help callers see why bringing their pets to you would be a good choice: "Our clients always tells us how much their pets like coming here. I'm sure that Max will like it, too!" or, "Your kitty will love watching the birds at the feeder outside our cat exam room!"

The simple steps above will help callers understand that you're about the pets and not about the money—don't forget to remind your team to solve the caller's problem by inviting him or her to make an appointment.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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