08 Aug Making it Easy For Clients & Colleagues
Making it easy for clients and colleagues
Welcome to Onswitch’s latest blog, this time looking at preparing a customer-focused bounce back plan for the practice.
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!
Ten weeks into lockdown, and things are starting to slowly shift towards easing the restrictions we’ve lived under since March. As plans are made for more businesses to open, veterinary practices will inevitably be looking at how they can start to welcome clients back into the practice for routine healthcare matters. It goes without saying that our first priority at this time is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our clients and colleagues – social distancing and mask-wearing may well continue for some time.
Once essential basic welfare requirements are met, practice managers and clinicians will be looking at the hard numbers, ensuring that the business can still be run profitably. What we’re hearing is that some managers are considering raising prices in order to plug the gap left by potentially fewer patients attending and taking longer. The Onswitch view is that not only is this a bad idea, but also an unnecessary one. Of course, practice finances have been devastated by the pandemic, but so have your clients’. Charging them more money for the same service (in their eyes at least) will result in them quickly becoming disillusioned and taking their business elsewhere.
The answer lies in improving practice operational effectiveness – streamlining processes, ensuring the right people are doing the right tasks and buying back time wherever possible. In doing so, we’ll reduce effort for both client and practice team, making the customer experience seamless and smooth in the process.
Mapping the customer journey
Take a large piece of paper and write three headings across it:
- First contact. This is the very first time the client gets in touch with the practice, be it through your website, emails or social media pages. The aim is to answer as many queries as possible at this stage, so that your team don’t have to spend time on the phone with generic queries. Visiting your website home page, clients should be able to see what your opening hours are, book an appointment online, order repeat medication and register as a new client. Add sections for FAQs and latest Coronavirus guidelines, detailing clearly what your policy is for vaccinations, neuters and routine health checks, so that clients don’t have to call and ask
- First call. The aim is to reduce time spent on calls, without compromising the customer experience. Direct callers to the website for information, offer and book an appointment for non-emergency health issues rather than giving advice over the phone. Use the 5 Steps process to structure the call and make it more effective.
- First consult. Now more than ever it’s vital that vets and nurses do what vets and nurses do best. Give your nursing team responsibility for everything they are authorised and qualified to do and strip out all the in-consult admin (before and afterwards) to the client care coordinators. Vets should primarily be doing billable clinical procedures, so all the discussions around health plans, weighing pets, booking next visit, checking vaccination status, going through cost estimates etc. are all done outside the room.
By writing down what actually happens against each of these three areas and noting where you can make it smoother and easier, you’ll create a process map – a step by step flow chart of what happens, who does what and how long it takes. With each key step dissected to this level of detail, it will be obvious where any duplication is happening. You’ll also be able to see where processes and protocols are out of step, ineffective or not adding value. For example, a typical vet’s day not so long ago would have them swapping around between operating, consulting, completing paperwork, undertaking CPD and calling clients and referral colleagues. Blocking out time for each of these actions (and sticking to them!) will ensure less time is lost moving repeatedly between roles, billable hours are concentrated together, and the team are clearer on what they need to do that day.
None of this is about working harder or charging more for less, it’s all about working smarter and optimising effectiveness of time and money.
Which makes sense at any time.