Veterinary heroes are made, not born

Veterinary heroes are made, not born

Feb 01, 2012

Every veterinary team member can be the person who can turn a client's or co-worker's day around. If there's a problem or a complaint, even if it's not because of you, help to fix it.

This has happened to you. A client thought another doctor or technician or receptionist was rude or dismissive or confusing, and now they're on the phone or in your face, and you're the one being yelled at. At least in this case, you may be able to call the veterinarian or team member to deal with the situation firsthand. But what if a client isn't really upset about whatever happened at the practice? What if it's a daughter's poor behavior or a fight with a spouse or a driver cutting them off on the freeway or a nervous dog who peed all over the carrier in the car that's pushing them over the edge? And, yes, they're still getting mad over something small. And you don't know why. Why is this person so worked up? What did you do?

The answer is, of course, you didn't do anything. But you have a great opportunity to do something great. Don't take it personally. Give clients the benefit of the doubt. Something terrible could be happening in their lives, and in this moment, when they're setting up an appointment, floundering with a large bill, or trying to understand complicated take-home instructions. All their emotions are coming to the surface. You understand, because it's happened to you. In these moments, you have a unique chance to help because you've been hired to help.

Listen quietly. Be sympathetic. Try to fix whatever is in your power to fix. Maybe you didn't mess up the appointment. Maybe you didn't fail to explain the charges well enough. Maybe you didn't pee in their car. It's not about you, so you don't have to get mad or defensive. You can just be what that client needs, what everyone needs, in that moment: someone to vent to, someone who can stay calm, someone who can direct them to the right person or say the right thing.

You can be the hero. And I've met enough of you—I know you are.

Brendan Howard, Managing Editor