Constant Communication for Our Clients

Posted: Apr 4, 2013
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At DoveLewis we live and work in a 24-hour world where clients arrive at all hours, and they’re in a variety of mental and emotional states. This helps keep us on our toes but always dealing with the unknown of what could walk through the door can be a huge challenge, too. Of course, even on the best-planned days the proverbial “wrench” can alter the course and add stress to push us to our limits.

These also cause longer waits for our clients and a readjustment of competing priorities. At these times it’s so important to invest the time to communicate with our clients about where they’re at in their visit, as well as how their pet is doing. Constant communication with our clients is one of the keys to a successful visit. We let the medical team perform their magic with the pets in the treatment area, and it’s up to the CSRs (Client Service Representatives) at the front desk to keep their focus on the client experience and work their own magic with them.

1.      Manage client expectations.

Communication starts the moment a client calls. This is the best time to start managing the client’s expectation and giving a clear understanding to the client what the process will look like when they arrive. A simple explanation like, “We operate exactly like a human emergency room, so pets are seen by the doctor in the order they arrive and by how stable they are. When you arrive, a technician will assess your pet and then we’ll get you started on paperwork.” A quick run-down of the process gives the client an idea of what to expect, which will also hopefully serve to calm their worries of the unknown. Managing expectations is important to continue during the entire visit and can occur at any stage of the visit.

2.      Under-promise and over-deliver.

We refrain from giving solid timelines, even though we know a specific blood test will take about 15 minutes to run. This is because the second you let a client know it will be 15 minutes, three stat (highest priority emergency) cases walk through the door requiring all hands on deck. This adds at least an additional 30 minutes to the first client’s wait time to see the doctor for results. It’s best to contextualize where the client is in the process, such as, “The blood work is running right now and as soon as the doctor is available she’ll be out to go over the results with you. We just had a critical case arrive and she is assisting with that case. But she will be with you as soon as she is able.”

3.      Beat ‘em to the punch.

If a client has come up to the front desk to ask for an update on a timeline, or how their pet is doing, then they have been waiting for too long without an update. Clients waiting in the lobby have nothing but time on their hands and will watch what is going at the front desk like a hawk. At times this helps in their understanding of what’s going on (like if they just saw that gruesome critical case come through the door, or five other clients arrived at once) but as soon as the flurry of activity is done, the clients who have been waiting need an update. Or just check-in with them. Or share a kind word, so they know we haven’t forgotten about them. This attention can help make a long evening spent in a hospital lobby much more bearable, and hopefully they will feel valued.

Keeping the client experience top-of-mind and consistently checking in with them can help make a potentially difficult experience better for them.



Megan Brashear's picture

Such a great post Brian, and VERY true for technicians to remember as well. The more proactive the technicians are with providing an update to the front, the less time the busy CSR has to spend asking questions to the tech staff. Hooray for communication!

Brian Stief's picture

Megan- that is such a good point. When the entire hospital keeps focused on the client experience then the client feels taken care of and valued. Any time a technician or a doctor calls up front with an update it helps out the CSRs and it lets the client know everyone in hospital is aware of their experience.

Kelli Muraca's picture

Great Read!! I always try to work by the motto "under-promise and over-deliver".

cheri stanford's picture

great reading material, I honestly don't know if I could do an emergency clinic but I would love to experience it one day and also love how dove lewis does with has amazing ways to make sure that their clients are taken care of and also making sure that the patients are doing well and keeping them informed on what's going on it would be kinda irritating to some people but at the same time to help them understand that they are doing testing and what needs to be to help their pets to be better or get well and yes I have heard that in some cases it is not a happy ending but they and our vet tech do everything we can to help the patient