When pet owners block you

Train your veterinary team to navigate the barriers difficult pet owners create with these four steps to be heard.
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Mar 31, 2014

A recent visit with a new client quickly turned sour when the client wouldn't stop talking—and thought everything she said was right.


GETTY IMAGES/FRANKRAMSPOTT
We call these clients blockers. They block you out when you speak and leave the practice with no new information—sometimes thinking they've taught you a thing or two. And the pet's health issues may be ignored or mistreated because their blocker owners don't get your message—and they don't offer the care you recommended. You've got to stop them. And you can do it with persistence.

1. Get your point in

Despite the blocker's ability to push you out of your own sentences and always be "right," you must do what it takes to say what you're trying to say. It's suitable to start your sentence over—again and again, if needed. Sometimes this will help people realize they're blocking you.

Your clients pay your team to be their source of good information. When clients start with, "I read on the Internet" or "I heard from a friend," stop them and explain the facts.

2. Charge appropriately

Blockers take up a lot of our time. When the visit spills over into the next client's time and you're not getting your points across, give the blocker the heads up. "I'm having trouble getting my points across to you in the time your appointment allotted. We can continue this conversation in another appointment. I'll have a team member help you schedule another visit on your way out." This may be enough to get their attention.

3. Document everything

You should be doing this well already, but documentation is very important. If the owner put their pet in harm's way because they ignored you, your notes from the visit protect you.

4. Block them back

When all else fails, it's time to tell these clients to pack their bags. Consider the liability associated with clients who don't let you speak and railroad you with their own information. Would you want pets to be put in harm's way because clients keep you from communicating? When you can't perform your duties because clients resist your efforts, it's time to cut the cord. When your team strives to be amazing, you'll make room for them to shine by removing clients who don't help you meet your goals for patient care.

Brent Dickinson is the practice manager at Dickinson-McNeill Veterinary Clinic in Chesterfield, N.J.