Giving Clients What They Want Most

Overview It might seem that clients are looking for high-quality medicine, and this is certainly a common enough sentiment in practice m...


It might seem that clients are looking for high-quality medicine, and this is certainly a common enough sentiment in practice mission statements, but clients rarely know how to assess this in a practice, so they make decisions based on the information that is available to them. Accordingly, to keep clients satisfied and coming back for all their pet healthcare needs, it is important to give them what they want most.
The value of a client is much more than the sum of any individual invoice. Their true value comes in the developed relationships that might span years and the lives of several pets. A loyal client base is the most valuable asset that a veterinary practice possesses. Without it, the level of medicine practiced in the facility is almost irrelevant. Therefore, veterinary practices must endeavor to keep their clients satisfied, and that means giving them what they want most.
Giving Clients What They Want Most

The Six C’s Of Client Relationship Management

Clients often have difficulty expressing what they are looking for in a veterinary practice, but assessment of successful practices suggests that those features are known, even if clients cannot enumerate them when asked. Dr. Lowell Ackerman coined the Six C’s of Client Relationship
Management for veterinary practices:
  1. Consistency
  2. Compassion
  3. Client service
  4. Convenience
  5. Competence
  6. Cost


Clients can appreciate that medical issues are not black and white and that there is room for medical debate, but they do not want to get mixed messages regarding the healthcare of their pets. They want the facility to meet their expectations of a hospital, they want the veterinarian to “be a doctor,” and they want the staff to act informed and professional. By some accounts, at least 95% of all cognition by consumers occurs below the level of conscious awareness. Therefore, meeting this unconscious image of the professional veterinary practice is infinitely more important to the consumer than marketing plans, customer discounts, or even the surgical acumen of the attending veterinarians.
Read: High-touch And High-tech Customer Service


Most clients have embraced the human–animal bond with their pets, and are visiting the veterinarian as a reflection of this bond. It is critical that the practice reflects its love of animals in everything that it does, from its logo to its discharge instructions. Although owners want to know that their veterinarian is proficient in his or her trade, they want even more to know that their pets are being cared for by people who clearly understand how important those pets are as family members. For clients, this is reflected in the “bedside manner” of the veterinarian, often an overlooked aspect of veterinary training.
There are many things that can be done in a veterinary practice to show that animals are the reason the hospital is in existence. Grooming pets before they are discharged, providing giveaways or chew treats, and taking a little extra time with an animal when patience is required , all speak volumes to clients about the value placed on animals.

Client service

Clients want to be loyal to veterinary practices and are often more loyal to us than to other retail businesses. However, they are also consumers and are used to being treated as valued customers by companies with which they do business. It is important for veterinarians to realize this, because minor lapses in client service can lead to costly losses for veterinary practices. Sometimes a rude receptionist or the failure to deal with an issue in a timely manner can be enough for a client to seek services elsewhere. This is often a silent loss for practices, because clients may not volunteer the reasons for their departure.


Today’s pet owners are busy individuals, and they routinely pay a premium for convenience. It is important that we make it easy for them to do business with us. Location is important for a veterinary practice, and clients should have easy access to it. Some practices have even installed drive-by windows to make it that much easier for clients to pick up needed supplies and prescriptions. Location, however, is only one aspect of convenience.
You may want to read: What Clients Expect from Their Veterinarian?


Veterinarians may assume that their clients have good reason for realizing they are competent, but in reality, it is very difficult for clients to appreciate the level of skill of any physician. They make judgments based on what they know and feel, and most of this, as previously discussed, is a subconscious decision.
Clients have so little information on which to judge competence that they become excited whenever clues are available to them. Use opportunities to highlight the accomplishments of all professionals and paraprofessionals, such as practice promotional materials, the website, standards of care, and newsletters. Prominently display licenses, certificates, diplomas, and continuing education accomplishments, and make sure they are professionally framed.


Nobody wants to overpay for services, no matter how professional the practice seems. Clients are paying for professional services, but may be interested in buying needed products, or commodities, elsewhere. This is not a lack of loyalty; it is a realization by the client that some products are commodities and without intrinsic value as to where they are purchased, whereas the medical services are value-driven purchases. Veterinary practices should endeavor to learn the same lesson.
Selling goods, including diets, shampoos, pharmaceuticals, and parasite-control products from a veterinary practice should be a matter of convenience for owners, not a measure of practice loyalty. It is important to be an advocate for clients and for practices to understand what they can sell at a premium – professional services.


The old saying that the customer is always right is not fundamentally correct. The customer is entitled to courteous, professional, and respectful service; however, it is also true that not all clients are good matches for a practice and not all clients are profitable for a practice. Cultivate the clients who fit the practice’s mission, but retention of all clients is not a realistic goal.




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Dr Lobby | Giving Clients What They Want Most
Giving Clients What They Want Most
Dr Lobby |
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