Hiring CSRs: What Do Clinics Look For?

Posted: Sep 30, 2016
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Let’s face it. Hiring veterinary staff is challenging. Sure, it depends on the role: Certified / Licensed Technicians are like unicorns these days. You know they exist but you can never find them in regions like ours! Assistants, Receptionists, and even Managers are equally challenging but for different reasons – where do we find these good, quality candidates who will “make it” in veterinary medicine and what should we look for on their resumes to spot them?

In my former career as a veterinary practice manager and in my current one as a human resources coordinator I have been plagued by this challenge.

Let’s talk about hiring Client Service Representatives.

I’ve always been a firm believer in “customer service is customer service”….right? Well, not exactly. While someone can be truly skilled at serving customers their dinner orders in the food industry or skilled at checking out customers at the grocery store, that does not always translate to being equipped to handle the stress of a veterinary practice and the types of emergencies they may see, even in general practices. I remember always being on the lookout for good customer service providers – no matter where I was: out to dinner, the pharmacy, etc. I even recruited a CSR from a diner once!  Regardless of backgrounds and former employers, recruiting a Client Service Representative comes down to the type of person you want to hire. Duties can be taught. Customer service skills can’t. You either have them or you don’t.

It’s true. Previous veterinary experience when applying for a veterinary client service role is golden. I will almost always do an initial phone screen to feel out the candidate with this on their resume. Having new staff members to train who have some familiarity with our software, systems, flow, or even just how to deal with anxious pet owners is so helpful.

If an applicant has no veterinary experience, they are by no means out of the running. Sometimes a fresh applicant is the best applicant. I like to look for previous employers on an applicant’s resume such as Starbucks or Nordstrom; companies who are known for their standards of customer service and their training procedures for employees. I also look at general customer service experience and employment trends. Is this applicant currently employed? If so, for how long? What are their current duties and can I find a way to make this relate to veterinary customer service?  Do they have any animal volunteer experience? Do they show longevity and dedication to previous employers? Applicants with good employment track records on their resume tend to make great employees.

People who can deal with people seem to be an increasingly rare breed. We NEED these people! Clients come to us stressed, anxious, and often confused about what’s going on with their pet and they need us to be there for them throughout the process. Applicants who are patient, calm, and confident succeed the most here at DoveLewis.

The truth is nothing can truly prepare you for the ups and downs of veterinary medicine- especially in an emergency environment - until you’ve tried it yourself. The rushes of 4 people in line, all 3 phone lines ringing, a dog pooping in the lobby, and the doctor needing your help locating a fax; to the lulls of the doldrums where you have no clients, no phone calls, nothing for an afternoon that drags on and on.

Whether you are new to the veterinary industry or a seasoned pro, my advice is to go for it: Apply for that dream job at that dream clinic you want. A good recruiter will spot you and give you your opportunity to shine. You’ve got nothing to lose and only experience to gain.