Show that YOU care: How to avoid client complaints
Who said is I was bad-tempered???
Locum work can be challenging, to say the least, even with a professional veterinary recruitment agency like Alpha Impact by your side.

There is always that ‘One big issue’ that you have to deal with on a reoccurring basis:

A veterinary Locum is simply not the one a client expects to see when they come to seek medical attention for their pet. Just as you are connecting and learning about your new environment and colleagues you also have to deal with possibly skeptical clients that are put off by not being able to see their regular practitioner. (Who is away on that exotic Island holidaying ;-).

Always try to connect to the clients and their pets and make them feel that you really care. This and a thorough professional treatment will help you to finish you succeed in your new environment.

To avoid client complaints there are some simple rules you should follow:

1. Be polite, always, even when you feel rejected by the clients. Do not take it personally if they insist on coming back later to see their regular practitioner. To them it doesnīt matter if it is you or anybody else who is standing in for the regular practitioner - it simply is not „their “vet.

2. Connect right from the start of the consultation. Introduce yourself, shake hands, look people in the eye, talk to them and to their pets, too. The more compassion you show for the patients the more satisfied their owners will be.

3. Listen carefully. Especially elder people use visits at the vetīs as a social contact place. Maybe they will talk a lot and sometimes important facts about the petīs problems are hidden within the stories (e.g. what they fed lately, if there were any changes in the environment, maybe someone beloved has passed away etc.).

4. Let them see that you document everything thoroughly. If they can be sure that you will pass on everything you talked about to their usual vet they will feel much safer with the treatment.

5. Summarize the owners concerns, your clinical findings of the examination as well as the treatment plan at the end of each consultation. This ensures that there is no misunderstanding of what has been discussed and what action will be taken.

At the end of a consultation you should spare some time for possible questions. Donīt expect people to ask you anything without being encouraged. This is why it is very important that you give them the opportunity to do so. Nothing is more irritating than finding out that a client was not satisfied with a treatment although he or she looked quite comfortable during the consultation. Just ask if everything is alright, if there are any questions left and donīt be too busy to answer them.

Even though your time in every particular practice is limited you should try to identify yourself with the place and your colleagues, nurses and the other staff. Alpha Impact Locums often place candidate in clinics where you have to adapt and fit in a team very quickly. Often this is an act of diplomacy: Not to impose yourself but be not to shy, either. Make sure to get used to the protocols and common treatments before you start working, so you can avoid displeasing moments with the clients.

After a few jobs you will be able to create your private checklist for the most important treatments and vaccinations so you can ask specific questions before you start. If you have decided to use another treatment instead of the practice protocol, explain it to the clients very carefully and make sure they understand why you have to do so.

Before you leave ensure that you have passed on all important cases to another colleague. You also should make an effort to say goodbye to your clients. If you donīt have the opportunity to see them personally then just give them a call. They will appreciate your professionalism and feel that you have really cared about their pet.

Remember: Some clients cannot easily understand how much you know but they do understand how much you care!

by Susanne E. Kaiser

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