We’re getting there – a return to the old normal (or at least a more normal new normal). Nevertheless, yet another change in protocols can also create new challenges for your practice. People are also getting weary of anti-COVID-19 measures and becoming complacent, with a visible wafer-thin edge between willingness and frustration. But as well as being the most difficult, we know the last mile is also the most important, so here are our tips to help get through these (hopefully) final stages.
House rules, rules of conduct, or general terms and conditions may be more for a swimming pool, but setting rules and expectations for your practice can be invaluable. Rules create clarity for pet owners, visitors, and your staff. Start with the basic rules and government advice, and add specific additions to your practice. For example, define when owners should arrive for their appointment or how they should make payments. Once you have your rules, consider publishing them on your website or Facebook page to help customers find them.
Communicate (and then communicate again)
You will probably find yourself thinking, “doesn’t everyone know it by now?” when you see an owner get too close to staff without a facemask. But you can’t blame anyone; forgetting things is human. Instead, view this as a lesson in the importance of regularly communicating. For example, when making an appointment, start setting expectations. Send e-mail or text messages on the day of an appointment containing information such as when to arrive, mask requirements, and how to pay. It can be tempting to think that you are over-communicating, but owners will soon flow more efficiently through your practice. It’s the art of repeating and, of course: better safe than sorry!
Nothing is more confusing when something is allowed on one occasion but not the next. We see this in pets all the time – if a dog is allowed on the sofa one time but not another, they don’t know what is expected of them. The willingness is there, but because there is no consistency, the message is confusing. Try to be as consistent as you can in your practice; for example, ensure that staff and all visitors wear a face mask for the duration of their time in your practice.
Keep everyone informed
Most confusion in practices arises from a lack of or unclear communication. For example, if appointments are backing up, to control the number of people in the waiting room, ask customers to (continue to) wait in their car. Informing in time prevents annoyance, discussions and keeps people safe.
Not everyone will be satisfied
Unfortunately, not every customer will be satisfied. Some customers will be dissatisfied even before they arrive at your practice. Various factors can play a role in this, such as stress or disagreeing with the safety measures. Sometimes this may cause you to lose a pet owner, but the safety of colleagues and other pet owners is always paramount. If you lose a customer, try to learn from the experience and adapt your house rules and processes.
Hopefully, the above tips inspire you to look back and draw on your experience over the last year or so. Before you know it, we’ll be back to normal.
Let’s talk about what IDEXX software can do for your practice
Complete the form below and we’ll get back to you.