Have you ever groomed a pet once or twice and then you never see it again? You know there was nothing wrong with the groom, still, you wonder why the owner and their pet did not return.
It may have had nothing to do with the actual grooming. It is possible that you or one of your employees did or said something that made the client feel unwelcome or unimportant. The way a client is treated is often the determining factor of whether or not he/she will continue to patronize your business.
How is the customer service at your facility? Are your employees helpful, courteous and knowledgeable, or are they more interested in playing on their phones than assisting a customer? Your employee is a direct representation of you and the business. The way they interact with people can make or break your business.
A prime example of this was evidenced by my client’s experience last week: A longtime client, Bonnie, called me because she needed to change the day of her sweet Bichon’s monthly grooming appointment. Her little Bella has been dealing with chronic, recurring urinary issues and her regular veterinarian recommended that she be seen by a specialist. He gave Bonnie the phone numbers of two well-known veterinary specialty clinics.
“I called clinic #1 as soon as we got home,” Bonnie told me. “I was really concerned about Bella and wanted her to be seen as soon as possible. Well, whomever they have answering the phone there was anything but professional. When she picked up my call, all she said was, ‘Hold.’ If she had said, ‘Hello, Specialty Veterinary Clinic. May I put you on hold, please?’ or even, ‘Specialty Veterinary Clinic. Please hold. I’ll be right with you.’ I would have had no problem waiting.
“When she finally came back on the line, she snapped, ‘Yeah, are you still there?’ I quickly told her that my veterinarian had referred me and wanted my Bella to be seen for the problem she was having. I began to give her a brief explanation of Bella’s issue so I could get an appointment with the Urology specialist, but she cut me short and said, ‘Look, the soonest appointment I have is in 3 weeks.’
“Her abrupt, uncaring attitude really floored me,” Bonnie continued. “I couldn’t believe her rudeness to me during the entire phone conversation. I would never take Bella there. I’ve had far better customer service when I call to get the tires rotated on my car!”
In all the years I have know Bonnie, I had never seen her so upset. But, she began to smile as she told me the rest of the story.
“Then, I called the second clinic,” Bonnie said. “What a difference. The woman who answered the phone was friendly and cheerful from the start. She listened to me as I explained about Bella and replied with, ‘I’ll be happy to make an appointment for little Bella. I’m going to schedule her with Dr. Thompson. She will love him,’ she said. ‘He is the head of our Urology department and will take good care of her. Let me see how soon I can get her in.’
“They can see her on Thursday,” Bonnie continued, “but that’s when she is supposed to be groomed.”
I was able to reschedule Bella’s groom for Friday. When Bonnie and Bella came into my salon, she couldn’t wait to tell me all about their visit to the clinic, Bella’s examination and ultrasound, and Dr. Thompson.
“From the moment we got there, I knew it was the right place for us,” said Bonnie with a wide smile. “The gal at the reception desk greeted us as soon as we entered the lobby and made a big fuss over Bella and her fancy pink collar. And, the technician that took her for the ultrasound was very gentle with her.
“After her ultrasound, Dr. Thompson went over his findings with us and described the surgery that would be necessary to fix our girl. He answered every question I had and never made me feel rushed. Everyone at the clinic was so kind and caring. The way they treated Bella and me made all the anxiety I had been feeling vanish.
“I have scheduled her surgery for next week,” said Bonnie. “I feel confident that she will be in good hands and that her operation will go smoothly. I can’t wait to have my sweet pup back to her happy, healthy self. Of course, I called my regular veterinarian to let him know the surgery date. And I told him how I was treated by both clinics.”
Bonnie’s story really illustrates how everyone who has contact with a client will either enrich or erode that person’s relationship with the business. Even though both clinics were highly recommended, clinic #1 lost Bonnie as a client simply because of how she was treated by a staff member during her initial phone contact.
Like Bonnie, your clients will never forget how they were treated at your place of business. And, good or bad, you can be sure they will tell their family and friends about the experience.
How much damage do you think one unhappy person can do to your business? The answer is, plenty.
Every time you lose a client—no matter the reason—it’s not just one appointment you lose. That client could represent 12 or more appointments per year for the life of the pet. On the other hand, if you and your team are providing excellent customer care along with good grooming, you create loyal clients that faithfully keep their appointments month after month, year after year. They happily sing your praises as they pay your bills and fund your retirement. That’s why every client matters. ✂️