5 Steps For Vets

 5 Steps for vets


Welcome to Onswitch’s latest blog, this time sharing top tips for clinicians on how to answer the phone effectively.


During this lockdown period, we’ll be sharing regular updates that we hope will help your business stay on track during these difficult times. You can also get video updates on our Facebook page, where the team are posting short clips of practical tips, useful information and community welfare advice as and when we think of anything that might help.

Please do let us know if there are subjects you’d like to know more about, and we’ll do our best to oblige – we’re all in this together!




In these unusual times we’re hearing that many vets and nurses are now answering calls and undertaking admin tasks over the phone from the reception desk. With many front of house team members currently in furlough, clinicians are stepping into roles that they do not usually have to handle (and possibly finding out that being a receptionist is not anywhere nearly as easy as they once thought!)


Onswitch does a lot of work helping practice teams build rapport and trust through telephone contact, and now that practices are seeing far fewer clients face-to-face, remote communication skills and protocols are more important than ever. Using the 5 Steps will help provide a much-needed structure to your call handling and give you confidence fielding enquiries from callers who may well be worried and confused.


5 steps for effective telephone communication

  1. Give a great greeting
  2. Get the client’s and pet / horse’s name, get the picture
  3. Demonstrate love, value, price (in that order)
  4. Give extra information (opening hours, special arrangements etc.)
  5. Offer a remote consult or emergency visit


Tempting as it will be for vets and nurses to begin triaging the symptoms and consulting there and then, resist the urge to carry out a full telephone consult on this first contact. Use the 5 Steps to structure the call, bearing in mind that the most crucial step in these stressful times will be the second – get the picture. You should listen carefully to what the owner tells you. Ask for (and then use) both their name and that of their animal in order to build empathy. Broadly speaking, the phone call might go something like this – a good 5 Steps call won’t take long, but it will glean lots of useful information and bond the caller to the practice.


  • Hello, Anywhere Practice, Sarah speaking. How can I help?
  • I’m worried about my dog Bobby. He has developed a lump on his paw
  • Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Can I just get your name?
  • It’s Simon Smith
  • Well Simon, at the moment we’re having to do things a little differently, but we will make sure you and Bobby get all the help and support you need. Can you tell me a little bit more about Bobby?
  • Yes, he’s five years old and a Westie. He’s normally in good health and is up to date with all his vaccinations and flea / worm treatments.
  • That’s great. From what you’ve told me I think the best thing to do is book you in for a remote consultation for his paw. Due to current restrictions we are only able to see emergencies at the practice and so I’d recommend booking a video call with the vet. We have an appointment available at 2pm this afternoon if you’d like to book that? The fee will be £30, slightly lower than the standard consult fee.
  • That sounds perfect, thank you.
  • Your consult will be with me, and I’ll Facetime you at 2pm – is this number the best one to reach you on?
  • Yes, thank you.
  • In the meantime, if you check our website or Facebook page you’ll find lots of information about how remote consults work, including some short videos showing how to measure Bobby’s respiration and heart rates. If you can do this before the call that will give me some useful information to go on.
  • I’ll do that and speak to you later, thank you.


If you need more information on using the 5 Steps, you’ll find a short video discussing the concepts of first call and first contact resolution on our social media pages.

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