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Every dog has its day

How an injured puppy and visiting two different vets highlighted the importance of making clients feel confident, informed and reassured and that a powerful tool that can be in the hands of the finance industry

Steve Billingham Director of Steve Billingham Consulting
Steve Billingham Director of Steve Billingham Consulting

I often reflect on how insular the financial services industry can be and in particular the fact that it seldom looks
beyond itself for examples of outstanding client experience. When you do what I do, your awareness of good and poor customer service becomes particularly heightened.

This month, I would like to share a personal example of receiving “average” service and contrast that with an “outstanding” customer experience. This was from two local vets.

Just before Christmas, we bought a delightfully cute puppy we named Milo and needed to decide which vet to
use both to get him vaccinated and for his ongoing care. After some discussion, we decided that the vet in the village looked like a good option. The surgery was new, looked clean and was just a five-minute walk away, which meant no wrestling with the puppy’s crate to get it into the car.

So, I called to register him and make an appointment for his first vaccination. I provided Milo’s details and our address and got an appointment in the diary. So far, so good. When we turned up for the appointment however, there was little engagement from the receptionist, poor eye contact and the whole experience felt somewhat
clinical. The vet himself was polite, courteous and answered all my questions. I left feeling OK but had not been blown away which frankly I had not expected to be. Surely one vet is like any other, aren’t they? Apparently not.

Two weeks later, we returned for Milo’s second jab. Still no effort at genuine engagement from the receptionist but, hey, we were only here for a quick injection. Besides, the vet told us that we would be able to take Milo out on his first walk in a couple of days, so we both left delighted and really looking forward to the weekend. Then, disaster (or so I thought) struck.

A big parcel was delivered to the house and I ran up the stairs with it to put it out of harm’s way. Milo followed enthusiastically and managed to get himself ahead of me. I did not see him and accidentally trod on him as I reached the top of the stairs. The screeching and yelping instantly told me he was badly hurt and in lots of pain. He was also holding his leg off the ground and shaking like a leaf. I was mortified.

I immediately phoned the vet, explained what had happened and asked for an emergency appointment as I thought Milo’s leg may be broken. I was extremely anxious and worried and must have sounded so on the phone. I was told: “I’m afraid we don’t have any vets in at the moment
but if you’d like to phone our other surgery in Horsham, they might be able to fit you in.”

No offer to phone them on my behalf and get back to me. No acknowledgement of my anxiety. Maybe I was expecting too much. I phoned my wife to let her know what had number of a vet who had been recommended by a colleague.

I rang them immediately. Compare if you will.
Receptionist (with genuine concern): “Are you registered with us?”
Me: “No.”
Receptionist: “What’s the puppy’s name?”
Me: “Milo.”
Receptionist: “Can you come down right away?”
Me: “Absolutely.”
Receptionist: “Excellent, get here as soon as you can and we’ll take a look
at him.”
So I did.
On arrival, before I’d had chance to say anything the receptionist said: “This must be Milo” and all the staff took a genuine interest in both patient and owner. The experience felt totally different and I was sold. The vet was young and newly qualified which initially was a concern (little experience I assumed) but the minute she started to examine Milo all those fears evaporated. Caring, gentle, professional, knowledgeable.

She did not just focus on Milo’s leg, she gave him a thorough check to make sure he was generally healthy and not injured elsewhere.

She reassured me that nothing was broken as Milo was now starting to support his weight (albeit tentatively) on his injured leg. She gave Milo
a painkilling injection and another appointment for the following day to check that he was improving and bearing weight on the leg properly.

How did the whole experience make me feel? Confident, reassured and informed. Milo is now registered with vet number two. They are more expensive, further away and busier (wonder why?). However, they genuinely care (and show it) and give owners real confidence that the health of their pet is in good hands. It’s about how they make you feel… and that’s worth every penny.

How powerful would it be if the client experience you deliver made your clients feel confident, reassured and informed that the assets they have
worked hard to accumulate are being well looked after and subject to the highest standard of care and advice?

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