Client satisfaction and loyalty are important to ensuring clients follow through on our recommendations and develop lasting relationships with veterinary team members and practices. To understand how to get there, we can look to results of the 2021 AVMA Pet Owner Survey.
As this month’s chart shows, the most loyal clients are those who find the veterinary team friendly, and those who are happy with the overall value and quality of veterinary services. In fact, a majority of loyal clients—those who are highly likely to recommend their veterinarian to a friend or family member—aren’t necessarily satisfied with the price or convenience of veterinary services.
And there’s more
Other results from the AVMA Pet Owner Survey also emphasize the importance of overall value in attracting and retaining clients:
- Clients who rate their veterinary clinic highly on overall value are most likely to recommend the practice to others.
- Clients who rate their clinic low on overall value are most likely to switch practices.
- Lapsed clients are most likely to cite value-related reasons (e.g., services not needed or cost too high) for not seeing a veterinarian.
What does this mean?
To cultivate satisfied and loyal clients, we don’t need to exhaust ourselves staying open all the time or moving to a more convenient location. Instead, we can focus on three aspects of client service:
- Quality services
- Friendly delivery
- Overall value
These drivers of loyalty have something in common—each is influenced by perception. Even when we provide the best possible patient care and great customer service, what matters most to client loyalty is the client’s perception of how we’ve performed. We need to pay attention to what clients perceive and believe.
What can we do? It's all about communication
Fortunately, language-focused research by the AVMA identifies ways for us to help clients better understand the value of the care and services we provide. The AVMA’s Language of Veterinary Care research shows that we can influence clients’ perceptions simply by changing how we talk about veterinary care.
Those findings indicate that pet owners value three main things when it comes to their veterinarian:
- A strong relationship
- Personalized recommendations
The research also uncovered strategies we can use to meet these expectations:
- Emphasize our experience, not training, to convey expertise.
- Focus on the client’s relationship with their pet, and acknowledge the client as their pet’s advocate.
- Provide individualized care—personalized recommendations can differentiate the veterinary team from other information sources such as groomers, trainers, or the internet.
Tools you can use
AVMA offers a suite of tools to help veterinary teams implement the findings from the Language of Veterinary Care research. A free ebook, Language that Works, explores the research findings in detail and provides practical tips on specific language that resonates with clients in daily conversations.
There’s also a robust training module that helps veterinary team members connect meaningfully with pet owners to improve compliance. Most recently, we added short instructional videos that show how a team member’s choice of words can lead to very different outcomes when talking about heartworm preventives or nutrition.
Find all of these resources at avma.org/LanguageOfCare.
In addition, Partners for Healthy Pets offers a free Preventive Healthcare Certificate Program that provides more detail on communication styles that promote relationship building and perceived value. An added bonus: veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and practice managers can earn 9 CE credits by participating.
The secret to happy clients
AVMA’s team of economists explored additional ways to improve client satisfaction and loyalty in an article published in the May issue of DVM360 magazine. Read The Secret to Happy Clients for more insights from the 2021 AVMA Pet Ownership Survey.