The other day (as I was thinking about topics for another blog piece) I made a mental list of my favorite clients. I was a bit surprised by who ended up on the list. I thought, superficially, that the list would have nice people with my favorite patients. But… there were many clients on my list who have pets that I find difficult, or hard to connect with. (Don’t tell anyone, but vets don’t instantly love every animal they see. It’s a bit like people – not every personality will click.)
Why do I like these folks? The easy answer is that I know who they are. They are in the clinic more than once every two or three years. They are pleasant to my staff, especially to the great people we have answering the phones. They share a tendency to be calm and remain relatively pleasant even in times of stress. They take the time to chat a little with me, my associate vets, or the staff. They say please and thank you. When a problem arises, they deal with it directly and without drama. They have taken the time to cultivate a relationship.
It becomes, naturally, a bit more of personal relationship than a strictly formal one. We know a little something about their families, they know a little something about ours. They lend us books and borrow ours. We swap war stories about life with dogs and cats, and other trial and tribulations. They bake for us and give us home canned goodies, and we fill their dogs up with treats. (We’d do the same with the cats if the cats didn’t think it was beneath them to touch food at a vet clinic.)
It’s not hard. They just show up and connect.
Requests that these clients make take on the feeling of a good friend asking a favor rather than a stranger demanding something. If I know your pet well, I’m much more likely to be able to give proper advice on a simple question if you call, or advise you on whether a recommended procedure can be put off until you are back from vacation. If I know you, I’m also more likely to come in on a day off to deal with a cut pad, or to stay late when you call at 6 pm and tell me your cat was just in a fight rather than sending you off to the emergency clinic.
If the staff know you and like you, they are more likely to fit you in at the last minute when you’ve forgotten to get your dog vaccinated before boarding in two days, or put themselves out getting you information, or scheduling a specialist appointment on very short notice. Never forget that the receptionist is the one person in the clinic who can get pretty much anything done.
It’s only human nature that we are all more likely to go the extra mile for a friend than a stranger. So – if you want to get more from your vet visits, make yourself a familiar face.