We'd like to think really carefully about why a client chooses a particular veterinary practice. Is it the product? Or is it the quality of their clinical skills and how well they look after your animal? Is it to do with the people? How well they communicate what they do and how kind they are to the animals that you bring in. Is it to do with price? Whether it be the absolute fee level, or your ability to afford the fees that they're charging. Is it to do with where the practice is, or is it to do with some sort of promotional material you've read? So is the practice very well marketed? Before you move on to the next slide, you need to choose one of these areas. We have some results here, of some research that was published in 2009. For the research, 129 clients from 8 different practices in the Netherlands were interviewed. The clients clearly ranked that the people at the practice and how they treated them as the absolute most important aspect of selecting a veterinary practice. A very close second, was how the clients judged their clinic ability. But with this, we have to remember that clients cannot instantly tell how competent a vet is. They draw this conclusion from how the vet comes over to them. Just being a competent clinician isn't enough, you also have to be able to communicate this to the client. Third, was related to where the practice was. Fourth, how well the practice was marketed. And last, was what the practice charged. The conclusion here really says it all. For success, we have to have a client focused approach. On this slide, I'd like you to think about what's important to employers when they're considering employing vets. Is it more important that the vet they're employing has really good technical skills, as talking about their ability to form a physical exam, collect a history, interpret diagnostic findings, all those sort of things? Or is it the non technical skills? So the client communication, empathy with clients, and your ability to work with other vets. You need to choose one of these before you move on to the next slide. These results were published in 2012, and not surprisingly, both of these areas are important for employers. But the non technical skills carry twice the weight of the technical skills when determining employer satisfaction. These results fit exactly with my own personal experience when I employed vets in my practice. It was most important for me to employee people who were good team players and the clients were happy to see. If my vets needed support with their clinical work, we could give this. But a brilliant clinician, who the clients don't want to see, is just a financial drain on the practice. So, obviously, if a vet cannot communicate well, this will seriously compromise their ability to perform a high standard of clinical care, however great their knowledge and clinical aptitude. One important skill to develop is what you do if you have an unhappy client, this is something that I wasn't taught at that school. And first few years in practice, I managed complaints very defensively, just focusing on trying to explain my side. And most of them didn't resolve well, and I had lots of sleepless nights worrying about them. I then read a great book on customer service called Customers for Life, by Carl Sewell. It outlined a structure for dealing with an unhappy client. I started using this technique and it was really, really effective. It changed unhappy clients into some of my very best clients, and I had far fewer sleepless nights. It's a technique, it can be used in many different settings. You may find it useful straight away. I'm going to talk you through the steps now. How to handle a complaint. If you have an unhappy client, the first thing to do is to make sure that you've got a private area to talk to them in. Handling a complaint in front of a waiting room full of people, or a receptionist, or any other member of staff, can be embarrassing for the client. It also can be embarrassing for you and it creates a really bad atmosphere within the practice. So the first thing I would do, is invite them into the consulting room and give them my full attention. The next step is probably the most important. You really do need to listen to the client carefully, and make sure you fully understand all the areas that have upset them. If you skip through this step and just deal with their first complaint, quite often you won't resolve the whole issue there. So once someone had told me what was going on, I would always say, is there anything else? If they came up with another thing, I would say again, is there anything else? And I would make sure that they had told me everything that was going on before I moved onto the next step. If there were several issues, I might even jot those down and summarize them back to the client, just to make sure that they understood I really had to listen to them and that I'd actually understood properly what the issues were. At this point, or sometimes a little bit earlier, I would then express my regret to the client. I wouldn't say, I'm sorry we made a mistake. But I would say, I'm really sorry that you're so upset by this. I'm sorry things have turned out this way. It wouldn't be admitting liability, it's just showing genuine regret that you have an unhappy client. Quite often, by this point, the client would be far less angry, would have really calmed down. And, if possible, I would give a reason for why the situation had occurred. So that at this point, they are generally receptive to listen to our side of things and, generally, because we've listened to them, that they would have a much better understanding of the practice side of things. The final step, is coming to a good resolution. And, quite often with this, I would actually try and find out what the client was expecting to happen, or what they would like to happen to solve the problem. And the reason this is a particularly good thing, is that sometimes, I would have in my mind, offering something which was way more than the client was expecting. Sometimes, the clients would just say, I don't actually want you to do anything else. I don't see anything else that you can do. But I really appreciate that you've taken the time to listen to me and talk to me about this. Sometimes, it might be that the client would want to not have something that they had bought, so we would be able to give them a refund. Sometimes, people would be unhappy about being given Elizabethan collars, or ecollars, or buster collars, the lampshade type collars that are given to animals to stop them biting their wound. And that sometimes would provoke quite an angry reaction from the clients, they didn't think that their dog would bite at its stitches. And in that case, we'd be really happy to say just well, if you're able to stop your dog biting at it's sutures, then we're quite happy to not give you the buster collar, and we'll give you a refund for that. So following these five steps can make a massive difference to how happy the client feels with the practice, and the respect that you retain with the client. If you deal with these well, then clients will often go around telling their friends how good they find the practice. If you don't deal with this well, then they will often go around telling many, many people how poor your practice is.