Veterinary phone shoppers: What's your role?
When a phone shopper calls, everyone can play a role to help make sure you're offering up the best information to capture these callers as future clients. Jennifer Graham, a client services team member at Bradford Hills Veterinary Hospital in Wexford, Pa., offers these suggestions to handle these sometimes challenging callers.
Create a practice protocol for how your team will handle these callers. Because a pet's specific condition—age, breed, sex and so on–will help determine the care the doctor recommends, you may remind team members to caution callers that only the doctor can determine the care the pet needs. Practice role-playing common phone shopper calls, including questions about the cost of spaying and neutering and vaccinations.RECEPTIONIST
First, ask if the phone shopper is a current client with your practice. Depending on your practice's policy, you may pass current clients on to a technician, who may be able to review the pet's chart and offer an estimate—with the caveat that the doctor's exam will determine the best course of action for the pet. If the caller isn't a client, you will explain the practice's procedures. For example, for a spay or neuter, your practice protocol may include a presurgical exam (to establish the pet as a patient) and blood work (to check body chemistries for abnormalities and to make sure the patient's liver and kidney function is OK for anesthesia). Remind the caller that the pet's individual needs determine the fee.
Since veterinary medicine isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of service, you can help receptionists help price shoppers by creating itemized estimates—if the shopper is already a client you've seen before and this matches your practice's protocol. Remind clients the doctor will perform an exam before a procedure to offer the most accurate treatment plan.
You can help your team help price shoppers by being open to talk to potential clients and inviting them to the practice to meet your team. Then, after collecting a pet's history and performing an exam, you can offer the most accurate estimate.