Vet Techs and the Importance of Customer Service

Published on June 4, 2020 by arothstein

Vet tech providing customer service to a family and their dog

Excellent customer service is at the heart of any successful veterinary practice. Providing an experience that reassures clients that their pets are in capable hands makes happy clients who are likely to recommend the practice to their family and friends. Providing excellent customer service for clients and their pets isn’t just ethical, it makes good business sense.

Caring for the needs of clients is essential in any business, and veterinary practices are no exception. It is important for vet techs to provide a positive experience for pets and their owners. Providing the best possible medical care for pets and ensuring client satisfaction should be a priority. Ensuring that clients are happy with the service they get from the staff at a vet practice or an animal hospital makes the difference between one-time visits and repeat clients.

Why is Customer Service Important?

Studies have shown that when a client has a positive customer service experience, they’re likely to continue patronizing the establishment. Customers are also more likely to make positive comments when asked for feedback. On the other hand, most clients that have one bad experience are likely to share it with other people. Remember that customer service is about making the customer happy so that they will become a return client. You want to provide the best care possible, so the pets in your care stay healthy.

At least half of the clients that have negative experiences will share it with at least five other people, and the cycle will continue. The worst part is that the other half of clients that had a negative experience won’t tell you, but they will just not come back for your services. Be proactive and follow up with customers after they visit your vet practice. When most people communicate via social media, the word can spread quickly about a practice that isn’t living up to the standards pet parents expect. Clients are looking for a practice, hospital or clinic in which the vets, vet techs, and office staff make an effort to treat their patients with compassion.

What are the Elements of Good Customer Service for Vet Techs?

Providing excellent customer service for clients should be something that you enjoy as a vet tech. It is not just “part of the job.”  Sincerely enthusiastic vet techs help a veterinary practice flourish. The key to a successful veterinary practice is that clients and their pets always come first. The customer service elements that make a practice stand out include active listening, respect, response, service and understanding.

Clients deserve your undivided attention as a vet tech. Whether you’re talking to a client in person or by phone, make sure to listen carefully. It’s essential to treat clients with respect, even if you get one that’s upset because their pet is sick or injured. Clients want to feel like they’re appreciated and that someone is listening.

Prompt responses are expected in a veterinary practice. When a client has a question about their pet, they want answers quickly. If you don’t know the answer, ask someone else in the practice.

Serving Clients

Serving clients means that you meet the client’s expectations for their pet’s care and fulfill your obligation to your clients. You should help clients understand the practice’s policies and how your system works. For example, if a client arrives with a sick pet that may need hospitalization, you should explain all of the options available.

You may offer to keep the pet at the clinic overnight to monitor them. However, you must explain that the owner could treat the pet at home with medication. If the owner chooses to take the pet home, you should describe what the medicine is used for and how it’s to be administered. If the cat or dog must be fed a special diet, you should explain the feeding instructions and answer the owner’s questions.

As a vet tech, you must understand what the client is conveying and try to anticipate their needs. Encouraging pet owners to talk about their concerns will help you come up with solutions that work. When you understand what an owner expects for their pet, you can provide them with better service.

Know Everything About the Services Offered

Services vary depending on whether the practice is a small animal hospital, emergency clinic, or a farm or exotic animal practice. The services a veterinary practice offers may include:

As a vet tech, you must be knowledgeable about all the services your practice offers. For example, a wellness exam includes an overall evaluation of the pet’s health. You may discuss parasite control and microchipping. Also, you must know the schedule of vaccines for dogs and cats. You can discuss diagnostic services with your clients and why they may be necessary. Diagnostics may include x-rays, ultrasounds, and lab tests.

You must be able to discuss spay and neuter surgery, the recovery process, orthopedic, soft tissue, or cosmetic surgery. Operations may be gastrointestinal, cardiothoracic, or eye, ear, or nose procedures. Whatever the medical issue is, you must be able to answer questions and explain about medications and the at-home recovery process.

Holistic and therapeutic procedures are designed to reduce inflammation and pain and improve the healing process. Some veterinarians prescribe laser procedures for chronic problems and post-medical care. As a vet tech, you should stay up to date with new medications and procedures to answer any questions pet owners may have.

Projecting a Positive Image

When a new client arrives for their cat or dog’s first visit, their first impression of the practice can mean the difference between a one-time visit and a loyal client. When the atmosphere in a veterinary practice is uplifting and enthusiastic, clients take notice.

In any workplace, a staff that’s happy and comfortable with their surroundings are more diligent and work harder. In the veterinary sector, many vet techs and office staff remain at the same job for years because they’re happy in their career. A successful veterinary practice is one with a team that’s content. Clients are more likely to refer a practice in which the staff goes above and beyond to assist clients and their pets.

Communication with Pet Owners

As a vet tech, you must have excellent communication skills. Communicating with pet owners may mean in-person discussions, talking on the phone, or chatting online. A veterinary hospital or clinic can provide incentives for clients to visit even if it’s not for an appointment. The practice may offer pet supplies and pet medications.

Some pet parents aren’t sure which food is best for their dog or cat. You can explain which foods are best for their pet depending on its age, breed and lifestyle. Chatting with a client can help to uncover any potential health or behavior issues before they become serious. Talking with clients  provides an opportunity to know them and their pets. A practice with a staff that’s friendly and understanding is likely to get referrals from pet parents.

Patience with Pets and Owners

The expression “patience is a virtue” is valid for a veterinary practice. You will handle many different pets over the course of the day, and some don’t want to cooperate when they’re being examined. You will need to keep a cool head and stay relaxed when handling pets. Animals are very perceptive and pick up on human feelings. Speaking in a soothing voice and treating a pet gently can calm them.

When it comes to owners, you’ll meet a unique set of people with different temperaments. Some owners are easy to get along with. However, when an owner is stressed over a sick or injured pet, they sometimes take it out on the nearest person. In this case, it can be the vet tech. Pets and their parents must be handled with a lot of patience. If patience is lost, it could cost the practice a client or a bad review.

Active Listening Skills

Pet owners that rely on a veterinarian to care for their cat or dog trust their medical judgment. What you may not realize is that most pet parents place more emphasis on a veterinarian or vet tech who listens to them. Giving the pet owner time to speak about their concerns reassures them that you’re really listening to them.

Attention to the Pet

As a vet tech, you should always remember that compassion is the key to handling pets. When a pet owner puts their dog or cat in a carrier and transports them to an animal hospital, a lot of strange sights and smells can make a dog or cat experience stress. Pets are family members, and no one wants to see anyone in their family upset at a vet’s visit. Your priority is to make that pet feel relaxed and comfortable so that it can be examined.

A Positive Attitude

If you have a negative attitude, it reflects on everyone in the practice. Co-workers and pet owners appreciate being around a person that has a positive, upbeat attitude. The workplace should be free of negativity and drama. Having a sense of humor in stressful situations can help. You can make the environment a fun place to work and still be professional.

Creating Loyalty

Loyalty in the workplace involves hiring the right people for your team and providing them with the necessary tools to do their job effectively. Creating a positive environment for their staff and praise them for a job well done, the team is more trustworthy and dependable.

Address Complaints

One of the most common complaints pet owners have is how long they must wait to see the vet, especially if their pet isn’t feeling well. If the wait will be extended because of an emergency or a last-minute walk-in, reassure the pet parent and let them know how long they must wait.

One way to avoid conflicts is to inform the pet owner in advance of the payment policy and get permission in writing for any procedure or treatment. Always provide the pet owner with an estimate for the day’s charges. If charges are inadvertently applied to a pet owner’s account or treatment was done without permission, inform them immediately.

Quick Response to Questions and Calls

When a pet owner has a question, a quick response shows that you’re interested in their pet and want to provide the best care. If a pet owner calls with a question and you don’t know the answer, the most effective way to handle it is to ask permission to put them on hold while you confer with the veterinarian.

Vet Tech or Vet That’s Too Busy

A veterinarian or vet tech should never be too busy to address concerns that a pet owner has. The same principle applies to the receptionist who answers or returns phone calls. When a pet owner has an issue that must be addressed quickly, have a team member call them back if you’re busy with another pet owner. No one should be kept waiting longer than necessary.

Take the Extra Step

Providing excellent customer service is a team effort. The entire veterinary practice is responsible for providing pet owners and their pets with the services they need. A breakdown in communication by anyone on the team can ruin the experience, and the practice will risk losing a client.

Did learning about the importance of vet tech customer service interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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