What comes to mind when you think of providing exceptional customer service to your clients? Being polite? Responding in a timely manner? Answering questions? Yes. Yes. And yes.
But customer care that goes above and beyond involves anticipating the needs of your clients and meeting those needs before they even ask. After all, you’re the expert in veterinary care and your clients look to you for information. A huge part of excellent customer service is educating your clients about the needs of their pets.
Online: It’s where the pet owners are
Many veterinary practice owners and managers worry about where to draw the line in veterinary client education. In the past, veterinary professionals were concerned about giving clients so much information that they would engage in self-diagnosis and ignore professional veterinary care. Today, however, if you don’t provide the education, Dr. Google will. The internet provides an endless amount of material for your clients to access–much of which is not accurate.
While it is frustrating to find yourself in a situation in which a client has attempted to diagnose his or her pet before coming to see you, this is exactly why you need to provide accurate information online and ensure clients know where to find it.
When educating clients online, you should:
- Use the same platforms pet owners use to search for information, including website pages that will indexed on Google. This may mean creating educational pages on your website, linking brochures or white pages, or posting educational content on your practice blog. Since pet owners in your area are searching for information online, the InTouch SEO experts can help position your content more favorably in the search engines so it can be found by those pet owners, but you should also encourage current clients to follow your blog and social media channels.
- Anticipate your clients’ questions. This can be done by posting educational information, or linking to information contained on your website or blog, through interactive social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Pinterest, to name a few. Clients will stumble upon this information before they need it and store it in their personal memory bank until the time comes that it is needed. Do not delete that content later; keeping the information accessible online through its original URL gives your clients a storehouse from which to gather information when necessary.
- Provide enough information to answer their most basic questions. When your clients are searching for information about their pets’ health, it’s important they don’t come up short. For example, if it’s a weekend and your practice is closed, but a client’s pet is suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, the client will search for possible causes online. Finding a list of possible causes will help them check items off their list and determine whether you, their veterinarian, would recommend they take their pet to an emergency hospital or wait until Monday morning. If that list of possible causes is on your practice website, you are the expert who has guided them to the best decision.
- Endorse your own expertise. When providing educational information to your clients, be sure to let them know the point at which they should bring the pet to you for care. There is only so much that can be done online. The next step is seeking qualified, professional care from someone who knows what he or she is talking about (that’s you!). By providing the education that your client (or potential client!) is seeking, you are positioning yourself as the expert.
Remember, one of the most important aspects of your online footprint is providing pet owners in your community a place to go for information. Once you’ve established yourself as an expert with your online audience, you open your practice up to more opportunities to draw new clientele in through your doors.