08 Aug Blog on Trust
Blog on trust
“Trusting you is my decision, proving me right is your choice”
It’s not often I get to start a blog with a quote from SpongeBob SquarePants, but this one is too good not to use in the context of the veterinary customer experience. And we all need to think a little differently at times – now more than ever!
In the four months since the pandemic forced our sector into emergency measures, Onswitch has heard from countless practices struggling to adapt and thrive in this ‘new normal’. Team members are exhausted and demotivated, clients are frustrated, and turnover is down. Delivering a caring service when we’re not able to see our clients face-to-face is hard; doing so in the face of very real worries about business viability can be nigh on impossible. Undoubtedly there are many practices in the UK who are struggling to get back on track as lockdown eases and clients are now able to return.
Yet we have also spoken with many practice managers and vets who are doing well – colleagues remain focused and motivated thanks to clear and consistent practice values and supportive team leaders, clients are delighted with the care they and their pets have received during recent challenges, and ATV and profitability remain strong.
Of course recent months have been unbelievably tough, but operating in the service sector the veterinary profession must always be grounded in the quality of the customer experience we provide. Our clients understand things have not been normal, and they accept that we’re having to do everything differently. It’s how you do it that matters, which is why those practices that went into the pandemic with a client base who trust and respect the vets, nurses and customer care team members who look after them and their pets are now the ones best weathering the storm.
Crediting the emotional bank account
We can’t ever lose sight of the importance of trust for a successful practice. It’s hard-won and easily lost, but trust is vital when we’re asking clients to hand over their pets in the car park, unable to be with their beloved animals whilst we do what we do inside, out of sight. Those practices who have built client relationships grounded in mutual trust and respect have been able to deliver care under the strict guidelines required by the lockdown, without impacting levels of client satisfaction negatively. That’s because their clients’ emotional bank accounts are healthily in the black – previous caring exchanges, open and honest conversations and involvement in creating evidence-based and personalised treatment plans have helped these owners trust the team implicitly. Sure, there will have been times where an excessive wait or a disputed bill will have nudged the emotional bank account into the red, but these minor transgressions can be forgiven when they are exceptions, rather than the norm. Putting the effort in to build and maintain trust is never wasted, as the positive experience of many practices right now proves.
It’s never too late to start either. The way in which your practice communicates new pandemic recovery protocols, handles issues and delivers care at every stage of the customer journey will shape how clients see you. Crucially it will also affect how they talk about you – and when they love what you do, they tell their friends and family about it. So take time to look at all the client touch points afresh with your team. Start from online searches – how does a prospective client experience your practice through social media, review sites and search results? Measure service quality at those all-important first calls and first consults, coaching the team to deliver consistently excellent care every time. Building and strengthening the relationships we have with our clients shouldn’t be seen as a nice-to-have that there isn’t time for now, rather as an essential foundation to recovery.
And if you’re not convinced by the sentiment, at least know that putting the effort in to build trust and improve your customer experience now will be rewarded with a stronger bottom line at year end.
You can trust me on that.
Onswitch has over ten years’ experience helping practices of all shapes and sizes to improve. We listen to the unique challenges and circumstances shaping your business and develop bespoke research, coaching and reporting solutions that deliver tangible results.
If you need help structuring your business to emerge from the pandemic stronger and more secure, talk to us.
It’s tough right now, but you’re not alone.
We can help.