Technicians are often a first point of contact when a client enters the hospital with their pet. To ensure a successful visit, good client communication skills are a must. There are a few key pieces that should be a part of any visit. As we all know, a first impression can be lasting and we want clients and their pets to have a positive experience. When greeting a client or setting up an appointment:
1) Introduce yourself and greet the client and the pet by name. Let them know who you are and that you will be helping the doctor during the appointment. Confirm their pet’s name and show interest in their pet.
Example: “Hi Mrs. Smith! My name is Mary and I am going to be helping Dr. Winters today. This must be Fluffy! She is a beautiful cat, I love her coloring! If you will follow me we will go into the exam room. Would you like me to help you with the carrier?” (If the client is elderly, it is nice to ask if they need assistance getting their pet to the room).
2) Explain what you are doing or are going to do.
Example: “First I am going to get a weight and temperature on Fluffy and then ask you a few questions before the doctor comes in for his/her exam”.
3) Identify the presenting complaint. This is the reason why the pet is visiting. Even they may have a history of various problems, the presenting complaint in the new problem or current problems to be addressed (this could be for wellness such as vaccines, or urinating in the house, or vomiting, etc.)
4) During communication and history taking, use positive re-enforcement by nodding your head, making eye contact, and repeating back to the client when appropriate to summarize their concerns. (See blog: Taking a Good History in the Exam Room)
5) After you have taken a good history and identified the owner’s concerns, at wellness visits use this opportunity to discuss parasite prevention, flea and tick control, heartworm testing, etc.
6) If there is going to be a wait time, let them know about how long it may be. Keep them updated if the wait time changes so they don’t get upset or agitated. Customer service goes a long way with clients. They want to feel that they are a priority, as they should be.
Example: “Dr. Gordon is just finishing up with an emergency so he should be with you hopefully within the next 15 minutes. Thanks so much for waiting. Can I get you a drink of water while you wait?”
7) It is usually recommended to provide an estimate for treatments (exam, vaccines, heartworm test, etc.). For sick pet visits, the estimate may be provided after the doctor’s exam to include the doctor’s recommendations. Let the owner what will be entailed with the treatments if not already discussed.
Example: “We will take Jake back to the treatment area and draw a small blood sample for his heartworm test and bring him right back.”
These steps can help to ensure a smooth visit and make sure that the client and the hospital staff are clear on the goals and recommendations for each pet. Good communication makes the owner feel comfortable and confident that their concerns and needs are being addressed during their appointment and will help to ensure that they will likely return for business in the future.