A veterinary client can come in all forms. In fact, dealing with them is somewhat of an art form that you will learn over time.
Despite your best work and stellar customer service skills, you will definitely have interactions with clients that are very difficult from time to time. No matter what you do, they will not be satisfied.
It is important to understand your role as a veterinary technician in these instances, and also what is not your role. Here are some tips for these situations:
1) Always Take the High Road
If you remain calm and kind during your interactions, this is the best policy. No matter how angry, offended, defensive, or upset you feel inside, you can deal with those feelings later.
In the moment, remain calm toward the owner and let them know you will do what you can to help them resolve the issue.
2) It's OK to Hang Up
If a client calls you a curse word over the phone, it is OK to simply hang up the phone calmly (don't slam it down). Do not talk back to the client in a rude or defensive manner.
Make sure that the person in charge calls them back later once they have likely had time to calm down to discuss their concerns. While you should be good at customer support, taking verbal abuse is unacceptable and you should not have to subject yourself to that.
3) Remove Yourself from the Situation Calmly and Quickly
Do not escalate the situation. DO NOT get into a back and forth with a client on he said/she said. In their mind, they know what happened and arguing with them will only make it worse.
It will be the job of the veterinarian/practice manager to discuss the situation with them in detail. Remove yourself from the situation calmly as quickly as possible.
4) Get them out of the Waiting Area and into a Private Room
If the conflict is in-person, try to get them out of the waiting area and into a private room so they are not rushed and you can clearly understand their concern. Let them know you will get the manager and ask them if they would like some water while they wait.
If they are unable to wait, get their contact information and have the manager call them when they are available.
5) Document Document Document
Notify a doctor/owner/practice manager immediately of the situation. ALWAYS make a documentation in the client's record about what they said or their concern.
6) Stick to the Facts, not the Feelings
Try not to emotionally get involved. Note specifically why the client is upset, and focus on what you can do to remedy the situation, or prevent the situation from happening in the future.
You can offer basic empathy when appropriate which can help to de-escalate.
Keep it simple:
"Mrs. Jones, I know you're upset. We really care about Max and we will do everything we can to understand your concerns and remedy this situation. Let me get the manager and I will be back in a few minutes. Can I get you some water while you wait?"
7) Monitor Social Media
In today's world, you should be monitoring your reviews regularly. If there is a negative review, or even some constructive criticism, make sure to notify someone in charge that has the authority to respond accordingly.
8) Don't Take it Personal
Remember this is your job. You do love what you do, but at the end of the day it is still your job. When you go home at night, do not let difficult clients rent space in your head.
We all have enough stress of our own. Deal with the situation in the moment, and then let it go.
Think about all of your wonderful clients!
There are so many people that appreciate what you do for their pets. Sometimes people have a bad day, or feel misunderstood. Don't hold a grudge.
Just do the best you can in your job. Vet techs are the glue that holds a practice together and we appreciate you all very much. Luckily, these difficult clients are usually few and far between.