5 Fishy phrases that isolate clients

5 Fishy phrases that isolate clients

What you say—and what clients hear—may be worlds apart. When you're fishing for the right words to satisfy clients' questions, avoid these most misunderstood answers.
Jan 01, 2007

You think you and your clients are happily swimming down the same stream until Mrs. Huff storms off without her usual friendly goodbye or Mr. Answers calls—again—to ask how many pills he's supposed to give Lulu. Words matter, and simply learning a few tactful phrases and strategies can clear up some garbled messages. Here's a quick look at some common questions you hear every day and how clients interpret your well-meant responses.

THE QUESTION: "Can you fax Pippin's prescription to an Internet pharmacy?"

Speak clearly
More and more clients are turning to online discount pharmacies for their pets' medicine. While some are legitimate, others aren't. As a result, many veterinary practices choose not to fax prescriptions to online pharmacies.

WHAT YOU SAY: "Sorry, we can't fax your prescription to an online pharmacy."

WHAT CLIENTS HEAR: "I'm too busy (or lazy) to help you out. Besides, if I fax Pippin's prescription my practice won't be able to charge you a premium fee and make lots of money on Pippin's heartworm preventive."

A bad choice of words
SAY THIS INSTEAD: "Because there are many fraudulent pharmacies online, we don't fax prescriptions. However, you can fill Pippin's prescription at our office or we can provide you with a written prescription you can fill at the pharmacy of your choice." Or, an even better option: Don't wait until an online pharmacy calls clients and tells them you won't fax the prescription. This makes you look uncooperative. If your practice has a policy about online pharmacies, tell clients up front when the doctor prescribes the medication and explain why the policy exists. Then give them some alternatives, such as picking up the prescription from a local pharmacy.

THE QUESTION: "Fido is vomiting, and I want Dr. Care to look at him. You'll still be there in 15 minutes, right?"

Your clients often feel attached to your practice. And that's a reason to celebrate. It also means that when an emergency arises, they want to see your team, and not some unfamiliar faces at an emergency hospital. But your practice may not be equipped for the emergency. Or the pet may need extensive testing or overnight care that the emergency hospital is more prepared to provide.

WHAT YOU SAY: "I'm sorry, we can't see Fido. You'll have to take him to the emergency hospital for immediate care."

WHAT CLIENTS HEAR: "We can't see Fido because it's after 5 p.m. and we're already halfway out the door. We don't care enough about you or your pet to stay longer."