Saved by Sorry

July 30th, 2014 by Ann Pearson

sad lonely dog after an operation

I’m not wrong, so why do I have to say I’m sorry?
Most negative review posts in the veterinary field stem from misunderstandings and emotionally charged situations such as the illness or loss of a beloved pet. The pet owner is hurt and angry and goes to Yelp to lash out.

When posting a response, the temptation is to pile up mountains of evidence to show that you handled the situation perfectly. Put up the X-ray pictures, copy the in-depth notes you took, substantiate your findings with lab results, and point to it all to say, “See… I’m RIGHT!” However, this isn’t likely to calm your clients or win them back to your practice, and you will look like a mad scientist to everyone else reading the exchange of posts. Read the rest of this entry »

Are You Using Facebook As Well As You Could Be?

July 28th, 2014 by Mark Olcott, DVM

Mature woman relaxing with her cat while working at homeI’ll assume for the sake of this blog that your practice has a Facebook page and that you’re spending at least some time monitoring, refining, and measuring it’s performance.  If your practice doesn’t have a Facebook page, stop reading this and get one ASAP!  

One of the most common ways you can build your practice’s brand on social media is to ask your clients, employees, vendors, etc.. to “Like” you on Facebook.  This is not just an online popularity contest, though that’s certainly part of it.  The number of “Likes” you have is an indirect measure of quality and provides what marketers call “signaling” to potential clients:  a clear but unwritten/unspoken indicator of quality. Read the rest of this entry »

Say Great Things About Me—a.k.a. The Right Way to Ask for Reviews

June 17th, 2014 by Ann Pearson

“Would you go tell everyone on the Internet that I am the most awesome vet that you have ever met? Oh… That’s stethoscopeweird? Okay, I’ll just be over here playing with my stethoscope…”

It’s not uncommon to feel uncomfortable asking your clients to write positive reviews for you. Many veterinarians and business owners simply refuse to do it at all. But for those who take the plunge and find a way that feels natural, it becomes a great way to keep people talking about your clinic and referring friends, relatives, and even strangers!

Some things to keep in mind as you plan out what you will say: Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Have a Gap Between Knowing and Doing?

June 3rd, 2014 by Mark Olcott, DVM

Problem Solver DogIn this, my last post on the fantastic book “If Disney ran your hospital” by Fred Lee, I’m going to focus on accountability.  One area in which Disney excels is holding employees accountable to their high standards consistently and absolutely.  One potential stumbling block in the quest for consistently excellent service occurs when managers are allowed to stall customer service initiatives with the “How?” trap.  Peter Block, the author of “The Answer to How is Yes” says that asking “How?” is a favorite defense against taking action.  You know, the “Show us HOW to do it and we’ll get behind it 100%.  Show us how to get people involved/get employees to be nicer to clients/improve our survey results, etc. and we’ll definitely do it!” Read the rest of this entry »

Rev Up Your Facebook Page With Powerful, Free Add-Ons

May 21st, 2014 by Sandra Byron

buttonFacebook can work much harder for your business with the use of simple but powerful add-ons that you can get for free. Today, you need more than just cute photos to help you stand out and win new clients.

Just as apps expand the functionality and helpfulness of your smartphone, these mini apps expand the functionality and helpfulness of your Facebook page. Don’t worry—you don’t have to be a programmer to take advantage of these!

Several companies offer free software that lets you create these add-on landing page tabs, ranging from the simple to the very sophisticated. Once you’ve decided what you want to say, you can create most of the add-ons below in 15 minutes to an hour. Read the rest of this entry »

What About Employee Satisfaction?

May 20th, 2014 by Mark Olcott, DVM

As we come to the close of my series of blogs based on the book If Disney Ran Your Hospital:  9.5 Things You Would Do Differently, the penultimate chapter has a fascinating section on employee satisfaction.

The authoDisney Castler makes a very interesting statement:  “I did not get the impression that Disney existed to satisfy employees.  Employees existed to satisfy Disney guests… There was no tolerance for employees who deviated, even slightly, from cultural norms. Behavioral standards were exacting and strictly enforced.”  Think about that for a bit and let it sink in…this runs counter to what you hear from most human resource folks. “Make your employees happy and they’ll make your clients happy.” Sound familiar?

What if that’s backwards?  Don’t get me wrong; Disney spends a lot of time and money getting exactly the right people to work there. But like other companies at which customer satisfaction is legendary (Zappos and Amazon.com come immediately to mind), Disney doesn’t pay very well. Nor do they have outstanding benefit packages or other lavish employee perks. How can that be? Read the rest of this entry »

Joining the Conversation

May 13th, 2014 by Ann Pearson

BartenderA veterinarian walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Hey, I love your practice!” The vet says nothing and leaves the bar. Okay, it’s not a very good joke, but it IS exactly the reason you should be replying to positive posts on online review websites.

How much better would it have been for the veterinarian in that bar to have pulled up a bar stool, ordered a drink, and responded to that bartender—in any way at all? Just a simple, “Thank you. We try hard to make sure we are meeting pet needs!” would have brought a smile to that bartender’s face and would have solidified that he would not only be bringing his pet in to see that vet again, but also that he would be telling everyone in the bar what a great practice they have. Others nearby would overhear and tune in to the conversation too. Pretty soon, it would be like an episode of Cheers and everyone would know that vet’s name!

Read the rest of this entry »

#Hashtags in Veterinary Marketing

April 23rd, 2014 by Kate Matthews

HashtagSince their inception on Twitter in 2007, hashtags have become social media’s industry standard when it comes to organizing posts thematically. But what is a hashtag? And how do you use it? The answers are shockingly simple, and learning the art of the hashtag is not as mysterious as you might think.

What the #Hashtag?!?

Hash·tag [hash-tag] noun 1. A keyword or phrase used in social media that is preceded by the pound sign (#) that is written without spaces between words, and that creates a dynamic link back to posts of similar content, e.g. #SeniorPetCare

Read the rest of this entry »

Change the Concept of Work from Service to Theater

April 22nd, 2014 by Mark Olcott, DVM

puppy in a hatIn the book If Disney Ran Your Hospital by Fred Lee, the 6th chapter deals with a paradigm shift that takes place in certain hospitals. If we translate this to veterinary medicine, rather than focusing simply on client service, high achieving hospitals think of the entire experience their clients are having. The former focuses on what YOU are doing; the latter on what the CLIENT takes away.

I get it… a veterinary hospital is not theater and we aren’t actors. We deal with very serious things like illness, death, inability to pay for routine care, irate clients, etc.  When the author talks about “theater”, he is talking about the total client experience from when they first contact you, through the office visit, and up until they walk back out your door. In a sense, this IS a performance… a performance with multiple acts, if you will.  As the author points out, “…hospitalization provides a stage to facilitate the experience of healing… Disney’s business model focuses on how to improve the guest’s experience rather than improve customer service.”  Your veterinary hospital is providing an experience to your client that goes beyond just customer service.

Providing an experience is not about entertainment; it’s about engagement with your clients.  Consistency is a big part of this. Imagine if you were to tell a front desk applicant, “I need you to play a receptionist who loves people. Can you do that? I need you to get into your friendliest character every time you step onto the floor (stage), and no matter how you are feeling that day, your performance will be the same: friendly, cheerful, helpful, and sympathetic. Can you do that? Because if you can’t, I will find someone who can. I need someone in your position who has the talent to engage our clients in a memorable way while you go about your work, and I hope it will be you.” Talk about being authentic and candid! Set expectations up front for the high level of performance you expect from your team members. Be clear that you expect more than just customer service: you expect them to help create memorable experiences for your clients. Consistently.

“In The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, the authors describe four ascending levels of economic offering: commodities, goods, services, and experiences. With each offering, value and profits increase exponentially.”   

Commodities, goods, services, and experiences.  Are you providing all four?

About Mark D. Olcott, DVMMark, a native of upstate NY, obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the State University of New York at Geneseo. He then earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University in 1995 and, in 2013, his MBA from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Mark was a partner for several years in a multi-doctor small animal practice before leaving to start his own mobile ultrasonography business. More recently, Mark worked as an Emergency Veterinarian at a local referral hospital. He was named by his peers as one of the Top Veterinarians in Northern Virginia, holds multiple patents, and is a published author.

Mark is the co-founder and CEO of VitusVet. VitusVet is a collaborative venture between people with very diverse backgrounds and expertise, and is now a growing company with one simple goal: to make it easier for veterinarians and pet owners to share medical information. Mark lives in Maryland with his wife, three children, two cats, two dogs, and a rabbit.

Getting Started with Online Reviews

April 17th, 2014 by Ann Pearson

Husky DogWhy should I care about online reviews? People are going to say what they are going to say and there is nothing I can do about it.

While that may have been true about word-of-mouth advertising, it’s definitely not true for online reviews. There is an entire conversation taking place online about your veterinary practice, and you have the ability to join that conversation and shape it to benefit your business. Read the rest of this entry »