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Here’s why you need to make it a priority in your practice.

Customer satisfaction has always been critical to the success of any veterinary practice. The more satisfied a customer is with their experience, the more likely they are to keep coming back for repeat visits and also recommend your practice to family and friends. However, the ubiquity of the online world and the rise of social media adds a third element to this equation, making customer satisfaction even more of a priority for modern-day veterinary practices.

In the digital age, both satisfied and dissatisfied customers are also likely to engage with your practice online and share their positive (or negative) experience in a review.  This, in turn, helps build, or damage, your online presence and reputation. While in the past a referral was largely confined to word of mouth within a customer’s circle of family and friends, today’s digital engagement exposes your client’s reviews and opinions to a far broader audience.

In fact, according to BrightLocal’s 2017 Consumer Review Survey, 93 percent of consumers said they would turn to online reviews to decide if a business is worth visiting. A further 68 percent of respondents in the survey said a positive review made them more likely to use a business, while 40 percent said a negative one made them decide to avoid it altogether.

In this respect, the value of customer satisfaction – and the stakes of getting it right – have never been higher. However, this new digital world also presents forward-thinking businesses with new opportunities to engage with clients and find ways to improve their experience.

While the potential for public criticism means online reviews may be viewed with some trepidation, it’s important to remember that they provide useful feedback that practice owners may not otherwise be privy to. Any feedback – whether it’s good or bad – creates an opportunity to address any issues raised and improve the experience of future customers. By receiving feedback, you also have the chance to address the issue with the customer directly and redeem the reputation of your practice.

Most cases of customer dissatisfaction are salvageable, with research suggesting that Without their feedback being brought to your attention, however, this customer would likely otherwise be lost to your practice.

Modern digital communication channels also give practices access to business tools that allow them to connect with their clients quickly, easily and cost-effectively. Tools such as online and text surveys, for example, help to gather feedback and actively improve customer satisfaction based on the information received.

For example, to proactively head off any potentially negative feedback before it hits the web, every veterinary practice should be prepared with an option that allows customers to complete a customer satisfaction survey on a tablet in your practice’s front office area. Evidence suggests that the best time to capture feedback is directly following an appointment, when clients are still on the premises and when their experience is top of their mind.

Also, to make use of the goodwill attached to positive testimonials and further boost your practice’s online image, consider having an automated system that emails clients who have left a four or five-star review in the office and ask them to follow up with a written testimonial.

Another way to improve your customer satisfaction is to make sure that your processes are as convenient and efficient as possible for your customers. Providing online booking systems and automated reminders are key examples of how to achieve this.

Not only does the convenience of these services add to a positive customer experience, it also frees up your and your staff’s time, allowing you to devote your full attention to taking care of your in-office clients and ensuring they have a positive visit.

Given the desire of veterinary professionals to provide the best possible standards of care, customer satisfaction should always be a top priority for a veterinary practice. No-one wants clients walking away with a negative impression, particularly in a competitive marketplace where any mistake can be amplified online. The risks are great and there is a real danger of putting off potential new clients too if a bad experience becomes public.

In this environment, customer satisfaction should be something that your practice is continually working to improve – from the perspective of both retaining existing clients and gaining future clients too.