Avoid the perils of picky pet owners

Avoid the perils of picky pet owners

Is there one type of client who's harder to please?
Oct 01, 2008

Q: Is there one type of client who's harder to please?

Debbie Allaben Gair
"No. All clients can be difficult or annoying, depending on the nature of the team member who's handling them," says Debbie Allaben Gair, CVPM, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and president of Bridging the Gap in Sparta, Mich. What may frustrate one team member may not even make another blink, so the thing to do is prepare every team member to work effectively in difficult situations. How? When a tough pet owner comes in the practice door, remain calm, be patient, and listen. It's important to stay positive, look for a solution, and pursue options in which all parties win, Gair says.

For example, if a client shows up an hour early to his appointment and insists that you, not he, wrote down the wrong time, don't play the blame game. Instead, depersonalize the problem and ask yourself how you can adjust your style of communication to meet the needs of the situation, Gair says. While you might want to bring up the fact that he confirmed the appointment just yesterday and that he'll need to wait the full hour, instead ask him to wait while you see what you can do. Then check the schedule to see if there's a way to move up his appointment. A can-do attitude can make the difference between a difficult situation and an opportunity to problem solve, she says.

Another way to create a successful outcome is to end each visit by saying, "We're honored you chose our veterinary hospital." But say it only if you mean it, Gair says.