As a veterinary services professional, one of the most important aspects of running a successful practice is communicating effectively with the pet owners in your community. Good communication helps you better care for their animals, improves compliance with treatments you prescribe, and helps establish your authority with your client base.
Benefits of Effectively Communicating with Pet Owners
Effective communication may not require a prescription pad or veterinary surgery equipment, but it is just as crucial for providing care in the following ways:
- Helps You Make Better Care Choices – Communication is a two-way street between you, the veterinary professional with years of training and experience in medicine, and the pet’s owner or caregiver, who knows them the best. Effective communication helps you better understand the animal’s condition to make the best treatment choice possible.
- Prepares Pet Owners to Provide Better Day-to-Day Care – While they love their pets, they are not always as well informed about helping their furry family members live healthier, longer lives.
- Helps Owners Comply with Medical Treatments – Whether treating the pet through a short-term illness or an emerging chronic condition, the animal’s caregiver needs to understand, remember, and follow your instructions for the benefit of the pet.
- Strengthens Your Reputation as a Pet Health Expert – The ability to offer actionable knowledge to the pet owners in your community directly affects the perception of you as a skilled and professional veterinary services provider. This makes effective communication a crucial part of earning and keeping the trust of your community’s pet owners.
Learning to be a better communicator can be challenging but rewarding. As with the other veterinary skills you’ve mastered, it takes practice to improve the outcome for you, the animals in your care, and their owners. Here’s how to take your communication skills to the next level:
Active listening is one of your most potent diagnostic and customer service tools. Start by eliminating yes-no questions in favor of open-ended questions that elicit more information. When responding, restate your understanding of the owner’s answer to ensure you’re on the same page regarding patient care.
Too often, when an owner makes an appointment, they’re worried about their pet’s medical condition. Put yourself in their shoes while offering reassurance and suggesting medical care and best practices for ongoing wellness. It can include recognizing their emotional investment in a difficult conversation, their aptitude for care, or their financial ability to maintain a suggested lifestyle.
While your veterinary equipment and procedures may be familiar to you and your staff, helping pet owners understand what their animals are going through can help them be a more proactive part of their wellness journey.
As a medical provider, sometimes it falls to you to have tough discussions about the long-term or all-to-short-term prognosis for pets in your care. While you should always speak from a place of empathy, remember to use clear, concise words without room for misinterpretation.
You may already be used to providing written instructions along with verbal ones after surgery, but what about text messages to check up on pets afterward? Have you considered adding a blog or social media presence to your practice to engage pet owners between visits with timely advice or to answer common questions?
Improving your communication skills will strengthen your veterinary practice. Pet owners and their furry friends will trust you, enhancing your effectiveness when treating the animals in your care. And for the best equipment, order your vet and kennel supplies from TriStar Vet today.