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Business Lessons Learned on a Visit to the Vet

By February 23, 2018September 30th, 2022Business

Every so often, I get to visit one of our clients in person. This is unique for a multinational marketing company. 99% of our work can be done on a computer without ever seeing the client in person, or even picking up the phone (although we do pick up the phone regularly, because who wants to talk to a computer screen all the time?). These visits are impactful to the client for many reasons, the foremost being that it is rare to meet your marketing representative in person. However, they are just as impactful for us as they are for the client.

I recently had the chance to visit 3 of our clients. At every visit, I learned and observed things about the practice and the team working there that are difficult to fully understand over phone calls and emails – even after a year or more of working closely with each practice. The three takeaways I gleaned from these visits:

  1. Having a personal connection with your clients is powerful, no matter your industry.
  2. Even the tiniest details can make the biggest difference.
  3. You will always be more comfortable in your element than outsiders. Own it, and you’ll make an impression.

A Personal Connection

The first hospital I visited is located way on the southeast edge of their city. While I was there, multiple clients came and went, and the team knew every one of them by name. Often, they even knew enough personal details to ask about “how is your son doing?” or “are you done with the move?” This made an immediate impression on me – and I’m not the only one it impressed.

The difference this connection can make is huge…

One of their clients, an older woman, stayed to visit with us for a little bit after (I would guess she is in her 70s or 80s, but I also know not to guess a woman’s age). In that conversation, I found out that she drives to their hospital from the next closest big city, putting her commute to the vet at over an hour away. Why does she make this drive just for a 20 minute check up for her 5 pound chihuahua? Because she’s made a personal connection with these doctors. The team greets her and her pup by name when they walk in the door, and the doctor walks her out to the parking lot.

These little gestures don’t take much. Perhaps a few notes on the client that can be used as a “refresher” before the next appointment, or taking a few moments before or after an appointment or meeting to show some personal interest. For a few minutes of time, these gestures make a very powerful impact – enough of an impact for an older woman to drive on her own, in the rain, over an hour, past who knows how many vets (I know for a fact there are at least 10), to get to you. Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of a client pull?

The Devil Is In the Details

I say it should be “The Devotion Is In The Details” – not only your devotion to your business’ success, but as a result, your client’s devotion to you. The greatest example of this that perhaps I have ever seen was at my second hospital visit. They had the usual details I see at hospitals – coffee bar, water, comfy waiting area, etc. But one particular area of attention to detail quite literally brought tears to my eyes.

Take a page from this book…

As with most veterinary practices, they were searching for a way to make pet euthanasia appointments just a little less stressful for their families. To do so, they have set up a garden in the space behind their facility with flowers, a tree, and benches, so that the entire appointment can take place outside. Now, I realize not all veterinary practices have the ability to set up something like this – and if you’re in an entirely different industry, it may not apply at all. However, it was all the other details their staff thought of that collectively made the impression.

One in particular stood out. The team noticed that some families only take 10 or 15 minutes to say goodbye to their pet, while others would take an hour or more. Rather than intrusively poking their head out every ten minutes to see if the family is ready, and risking the family feeling rushed, they provide a simple remote controlled doorbell. When the family is done saying their goodbyes, they simply ring the doorbell that is sitting on the table to notify the staff that they are ready to go.

This is not an expensive or time consuming detail, but it shows you care. In an industry that can be so delicate at times, a change as simple as this can make a world of difference in someone’s day. If you can impress someone with your actions even through a difficult or frustrating time, you will have their loyalty for years to come.

Own Your Space

My last visit struck a chord with me for a very different reason. I met the team and walked around the facility with the veterinarian/owner of the practice, as I do on most visits. “This is our laboratory area,” we turned the corner, “and this is our surgery suite. Our doctor here is pulling out a fatty lipoma from this patient. You’ve probably seen this many times before on your other visits!” Nope, can’t say that I have. But hey, there’s a first time for everything.

Believe it or not, the surgery isn’t what impressed me, it was what happened next…

“How’s the removal coming along, Doctor?”

“This one’s going as smooth as you could hope for! It’s not wrapped around anything and should be all the way out in a few minutes here.”

“Good news!”

Five minutes later, we’re in one of the exam rooms chatting about the website, the local food scene and whatever else, when one of the tech’s walks in. “All done, want to see?” And all I could think was it’s only been 5 minutes. In the time it took for us to finish the hospital tour and talk about some marketing goals, this veterinarian had removed a tumor and was already almost done closing the dog back up! No fuss, no worry, just going about his day-to-day.

I wish you all could have heard the calm, professional manner with which this vet spoke while he quite literally had his hands inside of a pet. It was amazing. The reason this stood out to me so strongly is that these are the same types of people who call me on a daily basis asking things like how to buy a domain name, or set up an email account. And yet here they are, multiple times a day, performing surgeries and treating cancer or other diseases in pets and doing all kinds of things that I guarantee my team would never touch. Everyone has their specialty.

The lesson? Own your space. You know it, and you know it well. And most people will recognize that. If you can talk about your industry the way this vet spoke about removing a tumor, I assure you, you’ll be a success.

Written by Cassandra Parsons, Director of Client Experience
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