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Feel the love, see the value

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

Trips to the vets are emotional, for many reasons. We are deeply attached to our pets and even going for a routine appointment we worry that on exam a vet may find something that causes concern.

It can be stressful as your dog may not like going, or your cat or rabbit is hard to get into a safe travel box.

Then there’s the financial side of things, always an area of emotional stress. We need to pay for our pets’ care at the time we access it, so as clients we often feel that we need to have value from the trip.

The issues from the clinic’s side

This raises a number of issues for me as a vet nurse, as I want every client to feel the love and value from any contact with us, but I’m aware there are hurdles to guaranteeing this experience.

I’ll note now that I worked in sales management for a few years before becoming a vet nurse, in fact at one point was an estate agent but I don’t want to dwell on that!

Still, it gives me a sometimes unique perspective on the vet world’s ideas of good customer service and how it matches, or doesn’t, to my ideal customer journey. I’ll be asking some questions soon to see if my worries are also your concerns as a client. I find that with taking payments in a vet clinic, there are some interesting hurdles to a smooth payment process.



Our reception areas tend to be a mix of high stakes/high stress people, and then there are those buying some pet food. It is still traditional in many vet clinics for clients to leave the consult room and then queue up to pay. Although in some situations clients are advised to leave and we will contact them for payment, it’s still more usual to queue up with everyone else who happens to be there.

Every vet reception area is different, depending on where they are – I have worked in some that are peaceful havens, only for clients with appointments at that time, but also worked in some that are a local social space for pet owners to congregate.

There are also the phones… you may have noticed that in many clinics the phones are answered by the reception team. This can make for a busy and stressful environment for staff and clinics.

Every reception needs to be managed to ensure the needs of clients and pets are met. Could there be another way that doesn’t involve queuing?


Do you feel valued?

As a client do you feel valued after the consultation when you then need to spend time waiting behind phone calls and food sales, when you have information to process from a consultation and you would just like to pay the bill and go?

I would suspect not but this is the way it’s always been done…


Is there another way?

Would you like the vet to take your payment in the consult room?

With new technology this is easily possible and done by many health professionals already. My physio can take payment in the treatment room – it’s quicker and easier than leaving the room to wait at reception! I like it and it doesn’t devalue them to me.

I’ve suggested this in a vet clinic and was met with resistance that this is not what clients expect from a vet. It was suggested paying the vet in the consult room would devalue the relationship with the vet, yet surely as clients you understand that payment is part of the process and the staff all get paid from that payment – so is a vet taking payment really going to damage your relationship with them?

It might not work in all situations but as a client would this be something you would be happy with?

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