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Receptionists. A veterinary practice’s most powerful communicator?

There’s no question of the vet’s role when it comes to advising owners on the best choice of treatment. But one of the most important and often overlooked touchpoints in a client’s customer journey begins and often ends at the practice’s reception desk. Rachel Diamond, Animal Health Account Manager, and ex-veterinary receptionist, explains

As a veterinary receptionist, a typical day is spent multi-tasking; switching between checking clients in and out, gathering information for vets, dispensing medicines and arranging pet insurance. This is all while answering non-stop phone calls, which could have a potential emergency on the other end.

But the best veterinary practice managers know that the most important role of a receptionist is to build trust with their clients.

Open, caring and approachable receptionists will use their communications skills to help break down perceived barriers between the animal healthcare provider and concerned pet owner. They can help to improve owner treatment compliance, drive customer loyalty and this can even lead to an uplift in product sales.

Practice management software system, VetSuccess cite three reasons why the front desk is a vitally important communications tool for vet businesses:

  1. The receptionist represents the face of the brand

When customers engage with vet practices, they interact with veterinary receptionists first and last. These interactions can make or break the customer’s relationship with the practice. Receptionists can often find themselves reiterating the vet’s consult advice in ‘layman’s terms’, aiding communication between the vet and pet owner, and receptionists will often be the ones to help the owner make the decision to buy a product.

  1. The veterinary receptionist controls the gates

If you want pretty much anything from a veterinary practice, you will have to go through the receptionist who is effectively the gatekeeper for its services.

Skilled appointment scheduling and an inquisitive receptionist can make a huge impact on the profitability of a practice.

Ahead of the consult, the receptionist can save valuable time by asking the owner questions that can help inform the vet’s approach to the consult or diagnosis. The trickle effect can be huge, because this information positively impacts the vet’s workload so they have all the information they need to make the appointment as efficient as possible.

  1. Compliance and endorsement is in their hands

Clients care deeply about the opinion of the veterinary receptionist. Just ask anyone in this role how many times a client has asked:

  • Do we really need this worming tablet for my dog?
  • Is this flea collar really worth the price?
  • Do I really need to book my dog an appointment to have his teeth cleaned?

Receptionists are asked these questions all day long, because owners crave the honest opinion of someone they can relate to, and that is usually the receptionist. How the veterinary receptionist responds to customer questions can influence the treatment the pet owner takes home and their view of the practice.

These interactions, away from the vet’s consultation room, are often crucial to the pet owner’s decision-making process, making vet receptionists one of the most powerful communicators in practice. With this in mind, it is becoming increasingly important for marketing teams and agencies to consider the receptionist in planning veterinary communications campaigns, as well as the vets and vet nurses.

Dedicated marketing materials, training and support can arm receptionists with the knowledge to have honest and informative conversations with customers. By understanding the receptionist – pet owner relationship, marketers can help them become better at their job and they provide a way for marketers to communicate with pet owners at an informal level.

If you want more advice about the best ways to engage with practice receptionists, email us on animal@thisispegasus.co.uk.