03 Feb Working smarter, not harder
So here we are again, well into another lockdown.
Unlike during the first set of national restrictions, veterinary practices are able to stay pretty much open this time around. Which means that with infection levels now at truly horrifying levels, it’s more important than ever for practices to ensure their systems and processes are Covid secure. Exhausted teams may be more vulnerable, and we all know that much of the front-line of our profession is already running on empty.
Nothing you’ll read here will change the fact that the next few weeks and months are going to be tough. But what we can all do is work smarter, so that the stress and negative impact of the long hours and rota gaps are minimised as much as possible. In order to make this happen, there are a few key principles for practice teams to follow:
- Clear communication. This applies both to the team and to clients. If there are difficult decisions to be made, then don’t delay or hide them. Face into the situation honestly and empathically – when people understand the background they can better accept the action. It’s OK to admit that you don’t know when, or how, things will change and it’s important to not to make promises you might not be able to fulfil.
- Stay connected. With colleagues working from home or as part of distinctly separate teams, consider creating time when everyone can dial in to a virtual catch up and offload. These sessions don’t need to be lengthy additions to the already full diary, but twenty minutes chatting with colleagues does wonders for lightening the mental load. Closed Facebook groups and regular email updates will also help, ensuring that everyone has access to the same key information at the same time.
- Manage outbound communication in order to minimise the number of non-essential incoming calls. Stating the protocols for arrival at the practice, requesting routine medications and opening hours prominently on your website and social media will greatly reduce the number of people calling to ask the same questions. Email or text instructions in advance to clients who are coming to the practice for appointments, and have a sign in the car park that tells them where to go and what to do when they arrive. Try and avoid asking them to call reception on arrival – this will simply clog up the phone line!
- Utilise technology – veterinary specific webchat apps and remote consult platforms allow practice teams to deliver great clinical care and patient management without having to do it all face-to-face. Clearly there will be many things that can’t be done through the phone screen, and for these procedures there should, by now, be processes in place to ensure client, patient and colleague safety. But in lots of instances a webchat can quickly handle enquiries and prescription orders, whilst a video consult will both reassure worried owners and act as an effective triage for clinicians.
- Remain focused on the customer experience. This is never an optional extra, or a nice-to-have that can be dropped when times are hard (as of course they now are). Providing a warm, clear, empathic and convenient service makes client interactions smoother and minimises the number of stressful and time-consuming issues, clarifications and complaints arising – ultimately saving time in the long run. Pet and horse owners understand that you’re doing your best in very challenging circumstances, and the they will have greater levels of patience and understanding as a result. But they will remember not having calls returned or being rushed off the phone dismissively. Delivering an excellent customer experience is always important for any service business, and those that continue to do it when the chips are down will be the ones who benefit in the future from enhanced client loyalty and recommendation.
If you’d like more information on the practical support and training that Onswitch can offer, then please do check out our website onswitch.co.uk, where you’ll find a webchat option to chat through your specific needs with an experienced member of our team.
By working smarter, together we will get through these hard times.