Published on January 12, 2021
Five steps to mastering the art of recommendation
In veterinary medicine, client non-compliance with recommended treatment is an issue of concern.
The medical literature on humans estimates the rate of compliance to be around 50%, and one can assume similar rates in veterinary medicine. Considering that pet owners’ adherence to recommendations can have a significant impact on patient treatment outcomes, this is a crucial issue.
But how do we get clients to comply?
A few words about adherence to recommendations
The “art of recommendation” is aimed at ensuring that the client procures the “right” products or adopts behaviours that truly meet the needs of their animal companion. Before making a recommendation, you take into account your patient’s age and condition. It’s very important, however, that you pay just as much attention to understanding your client.
Too often, the client is inundated with information in a setting full of distractions (indeed, veterinary clinics tend to be bustling places!). To compensate for this, the practice team has to step up and take control of the client relationship.
Main reasons why clients don’t follow through on the recommendations of their veterinary team:
- They don’t remember everything said during the consultation.
- They’re confused about and/or don’t fully understand the treatment plan.
- They’re unable to see the value of the treatment or the recommended product.
- They feel incapable of administering the treatment or using the product.
If your team is not trained to support the client from the start of the process to the end, chances are that you will “lose” a few clients along the way. But there is a solution!
By putting in place a simple recommendation protocol and making sure all your team members are familiar with it, you can greatly improve client adherence to recommendations.
Five steps to promoting compliance with recommendations
Since you only get one chance to make a good first impression, this is a crucial step! The client has to feel confident as soon as they step in the door. Every aspect of the welcome has to be perfect. For example, be sure to greet every client (and every patient!) personally. You can include these steps in your performance management assessments.
2. The consultation
This can be a stressful moment for pet owners. Between dealing with Rover who refuses to be examined or stressed-out Kitty and trying to remember what questions they wanted to ask the vet, clients have a lot of things to juggle at once!
That’s why, once you have asked your client the necessary questions and made a diagnosis, don’t hesitate to:
- Repeat the information
- Invite the client to reformulate it to make sure they understand
- Write down your recommendations (memory is fallible!).
“The vast majority of humans are visual. For this reason, multi-sensory communication media (verbal, written and touch – where possible) greatly increase the chances that a client will understand, remember, and then comply with a recommendation.”
3. Written recommendations
Every vet practice should have a recommendation block that allows the health care team to record their observations/diagnoses as well as any recommendations. This “piece of paper” (or summary email in the case of a virtual consultation) will become your greatest ally: it serves as a concrete reminder for the client of the reason for their visit. The written recommendation is also an ideal tool for accompanying the client.
You can choose between two available options:
4. The retail space
The client comes out of the consultation with a written recommendation. Excellent! All that remains now is to convert this recommendation into concrete action and ensure that the animal’s needs will be adequately met.
Once in the retail space, read the recommendation and direct the client to the appropriate product(s) for their pet’s needs. Be sure to explain the advantages of each product and to emphasize its relevance and benefits for the animal.
Ask open-ended questions to identify underlying needs or concerns. Does the client feel comfortable using the product? Is the client aware of the recommended frequency of use?
Every retail space should have a designated person in charge. This person is responsible for promoting products and making sure all team members have the necessary knowledge to adequately advise clients.
When it comes time to pay, the person at the reception desk schedules the next appointment or informs the client of the relevant services available (grooming, online store, etc.) and invites them to follow the clinic’s Facebook page or sign up for the newsletter to receive advice, etc. This helps to create a stronger relationship with the client and to build trust. Sometimes, the person at reception may also schedule a follow-up call to check in on the patient, which is something all clients appreciate, since it offers additional proof that the practice team really cares about their pet’s health.
In conclusion, a team that works cohesively, with each member knowing their role, will always inspire confidence. The veterinary team can be seen as a kind of “reassuring human chain” that guides the client towards the adoption of the best care for their animal.
Does your practice need help refining its recommendation procedure? Get in touch with our team. We can provide training that will contribute to improving your clients’ compliance with recommendations.