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How many of your clients come in daily to purchase refills, preventatives, food and other pet supplies? Chances are it is a good number...but it's declining. Competition from online providers, like Chewy and Amazon.com, has never been tougher. Some of these companies are so well-funded that they are willing to LOSE money in order to get your clients' online pharmacy business because they know that, once they get them away from you, they'll never buy medications/food from you again. We've even seen some online providers with retail prices that are less than the average veterinary practice pays wholesale!
Despite this trend, and while convenience and low price are important to the modern consumer (Are you really any different?), a significant number of clients would still prefer to buy these items directly from you. Why? Because they trust you.
According to client experience guru, Bruce Temkin, 2016 is the “Year of Emotion” - the year when businesses will awaken to the power of emotions in shaping their customer experiences. Emotion is not only the component of the client experience that has the largest impact on loyalty, but it is also an area where veterinarians tend to struggle and often seemingly ignore. This needs to change.
Generating positive sentiment about your practice is the first step in a feedback loop that will continue to drive results for your veterinary business well into the future. Each time a client interacts with your practice, it’s essential that no matter what the medical outcome for their pets, they see the interpersonal aspects of their experience as a brilliant ray of sunshine, rather than a dark stormcloud. This sort of emotional response is the difference between a loyal client - loyalty is defined as an emotional connection, after all - and one that’s likely to try out your competitors, looking for a better offering. From there, the equation is simple: loyal clients equals recurring revenue with low overhead, and personal recommendations that facilitate continued growth.
Loyalty is a powerful connection that runs hand-in-hand with emotion. Ask yourself, to whom are you most loyal?? The first people that may come to mind are your friends and family. They may not always be perfect, but you remain loyal because of that bond. But what about businesses? To have a shot at establishing client loyalty you must first build an emotional bond with your clients.
Never assume that a client is loyal just because they continue to use your services. There are many reasons why a client might repeat their business despite not being satisfied - and this sort of client will be the first to “jump-ship” when new competitors arrive.
Client loyalty results from positive interactions and experiences with your practice.
To build client loyalty, your veterinary practice's client experience needs to blend the physical, emotional and value elements of an experience into one cohesive experience.