High-touch And High-tech Customer Service

Overview High touch refers to high-quality service and ambiance. High tech refers to practicing on the cutting edge, using highly techni...

Overview

High touch refers to high-quality service and ambiance. High tech refers to practicing on the cutting edge, using highly technical or advanced equipment and procedures. These two concepts are not  mutually exclusive; in fact, customers often crave high-touch service the more they have to deal with a high-tech society. High touch and high tech both communicate value to the client, but in different ways.
Modern technology is expensive. To invest in advanced equipment requires charging fees high  enough to justify the expenditure on such equipment. In order for clients to feel comfortable with  these higher fees, it helps to deliver high-tech medicine in a high-touch atmosphere. This ensures that clients will feel that the services provided justify the cost.
 
High-touch And High-tech Customer Service

Issues And Options

In a veterinary hospital, emotions often run high. For clients who are upset it is calming when everything seems to run perfectly, the clinic smells good, there is soothing music, and the staff seem superbly trained and helpful. Skillful use of technology and a faster diagnosis also are reassuring to worried pet owners.
It takes more time and energy to attract a new client than it does to keep one you already have. A high-touch practice often retains more clients because those customers probably will not get the same level of service from the competition. In any business, when competitors are evenly matched, those that stress customer service will win. This is especially true in a field like ours, where customers are by and large unable to judge the quality of our work. A spay is a spay to the consumer. Because many decisions made by clients in a veterinary hospital are based on emotion instead of price, quality, or product features, building a strong connection with the client and fostering a personal bond with both client and pet usually leads to success. High-touch service is one way to achieve this connection.
You may like: What Clients Expect from Their Veterinarian?

High Tech

Investing in a high-tech image really impresses clients. Instead of being average, highly technical practices seem way above the ordinary – more on a par with clients’ experiences with their own human medical specialists. Those clients who want the absolute best for their pets, and are willing to pay for it, demand a high level of diagnostic and treatment ability. However, too much high tech without enough customer service, client education, or perceived value leaves a cold, impersonal  feeling. Notice how high tech is best linked to high touch in practice, which then fosters the human–animal bond. Examples of high tech include the following:
Advanced imaging: Ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and digital radiographs, usually reviewed with clients days before they would get that information back if they were waiting for human physicians and specialists.
High-end computer equipment: Tablet computers that allow personalization of handouts for  immediate printout for the client, websites and apps that let clients schedule their own appointments,
and webcams in the boarding suites so clients can watch their pets while they are away.
In-house laboratory equipment capability: For quick diagnosis of ill pets.
Use of cameras and video equipment: Videomicroscopy, intraoral cameras for up-close pictures of a pet’s fractured tooth or cameras that allow clients to see what is going on in surgery make veterinary medicine more understandable for pet owners.
Digital images: Used in the exam rooms, on dental discharge forms and reminders, or sent via the Internet to specialists.
Newer specialties: For example laser surgery, rehabilitative services, and oncology that are not available in the typical veterinary hospital.
Client education: Using video, the web, email, up-to-date handouts, and messages on hold.

High Touch

High-touch service leaves a positive, lasting impression on clients. It means being easy and pleasant to do business with, and delighting a client with more than they expect. It also can mean great
word-of-mouth promotion for your hospital. Notice that you do not need high tech at all to offer high touch. Examples of high touch include the following:
  • Espresso or lattes in the waiting room.
  • An easel or board welcomes clients by name.
  • Pets’ pictures are on file and are posted on the practice website and printed on receipts, reminder cards, etc.
  • Stuffed animals, comfy beds, and toys in the kennels with the patients.
  • Cases of the month or pet success stories are posted.
  • Exceptional clients are recognized or acknowledged in public areas, on social media, or on your  website (being careful to obtain permission before using names or other personal information).
  • Notes are made in the file about new babies, marriages, etc., so you can mention them at the client’s next visit.
  • Time is taken to educate clients and explain everything, then send it home in writing as well.
  • Direct telephone lines to dedicated technical staff are available to allow clients to find out how their pets are recovering in the hospital.
  • Text (SMS) with photos of the pet recovering after surgery or dentistry are sent instead of just a phone call.
  • Team members have their own business cards listing their areas of interest, and are encouraged to bond with and get to know the clients.
  • A curbside service or drive-through window is available to pick up food or medications.
  • Exclusive post-surgery monitoring can be provided. The client pays extra for a veterinary nurse to stay with their pet, and only their pet, before, during, and after a procedure.
  • A team member, called a greeter, is stationed in the waiting area to welcome clients, help them fill out forms, and assist them back out to the car.

Cautions

Customers are more and more demanding nowadays. No one seems to have enough time. They do not like to wait, are used to instant service and lots of options, and often are happy to take their business elsewhere if you do not satisfy them. Keeping ahead of the curve is hard work.
Courtesy is not a substitute for competence or skill. No matter how nice your waiting room is or how good your coffee is you still have to meet clients’ expectations for care of their pets.
Companies that shine in service take pains to hire people capable of providing good service and also to train and motivate them. Realizing that “customer relations mirror employee relations,” they invest heavily in their people.
You cannot provide superior service without a manager who is fanatically committed to service. You cannot provide high tech effectively without someone in the practice being genuinely fascinated with, and skilled at using, highly technical equipment. These concepts require hard work, sincere interest, and dedication to implement.
Anyone on the veterinary team can make or break the high touch atmosphere. Expecting only the receptionist or client service representative to deal with customer service will result in failure. High touch must become the philosophy and the guiding principle of everyone in the hospital.
High touch/high tech can become your practice’s signature. It can also be a road to financial success. Veterinary teams that utilize these traits have found that it is also energizing to feel that you are bonding more effectively with your clients and doing everything possible for their pets.

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High-touch And High-tech Customer Service
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