Veterinary clinics: How can you improve your clients’ wait experience?

3 minutes
Waiting room
Published on November 04, 2021

Waiting line

Have you heard the story about the Houston airport?

Travellers were complaining about long wait times at the baggage claim. Management increased the number of baggage handlers and reduced the wait time to a reasonable 8 minutes. But travelers still complained. So management decided to take a different approach: they moved the baggage claim area six times farther away from the arrival gates, so travellers were busy taking a longer walk before reaching their luggage. The result: complaints dropped to zero overnight!

This story, which was reported in the New York Times, has a lot to teach us. The main lesson is that a client who is properly welcomed, distracted and kept busy is a happy client. So what if you were to take the same approach at your veterinary clinic?


Practical tips for improving your clients’ wait experience

🏥 In-clinic
  • Create a welcoming reception area with comfortable seating, televisions, a coffee machine, artwork by local artists, etc.
  • Provide WIFI access for your visitors, with the password prominently displayed.
  • Offer relevant and recent reading material, such as outdoor or animal magazines, informative posters, etc. Rotate them regularly and replace old posters with new ones… don’t just add to them!
  • Manage client expectations by informing them of the approximate wait time when they arrive.
  • Give clients a QR code so they can easily access your online store while waiting.


📞 On the telephone
  • To start off the experience on a positive note, make sure you answer with a smile in your voice.
  • Record a pleasant on-hold message, avoiding the usual “Your call is important to us.” Be creative!
    • In the message, answer some of the most frequently asked questions and indicate how to find other answers on your website or Facebook page, etc., if needed.
  • Call back clients who have left a message within the hour, if possible.
  • If the wait time is too long, invite the client to leave their number so you can call them back later.
    • Mention the estimated wait time.

It’s a proven fact: the wait always seems longer when you’re bored.
Has your client been waiting for a while? Strike up a conversation with them

📲 By email and text message
  • Always use a greeting, as if you were writing a letter.
  • Avoid using capital letters for full words, as the client may find this aggressive.
  • In a text message, use as few words as possible.
  • Respond within two hours of receiving the client’s message, if possible.


Welcoming clients in-clinic: the 4×20 rule

Have you heard of the 4×20 rule? It suggests that you have 20 seconds, 20 centimetres, 20 gestures and 20 words to make a good first impression on your client.


20 seconds: greet your client as soon as they walk in

For a client, bringing a pet to the vets can be stressful! By greeting them as soon as they enter the clinic, you can immediately help put them at ease.


20 centimetres: think about your facial expression

Your face, which makes up the top 20 centimetres of your body, must create a good first impression from the moment you meet someone. According to a Princeton University study, it takes only one-tenth of a second to make up our minds about people. So if you’re greeting a client when they enter the clinic, it’s super important to adopt an open, relaxed and sincere attitude. And above all, don’t forget to look them in the eye and smile!

And if you’re wearing a mask, you can smile with your eyes!

Smile with your eyes


20 words: talk to them about their appointment immediately

The important thing is to talk to the client quickly, and with a smile in your voice. Why is this important? Because people judge words more positively when they’re said with a smile!


20 gestures: show confidence in yourself

A client who trusts you will gladly entrust their pet to you. Speak to them with confidence and they’ll be very happy!


What will your client’s next visit be like?

It’s not always possible to avoid wait times for your clients. But with proper preparation of your veterinary health care team and consistent use of the right communication techniques, you can make waiting times a calmer and more pleasant experience for your client.

For more advice, services and tools designed to simplify the management of your veterinary practice, read our blog or contact your account executive.


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