Pop quiz: Without counting your medical and diagnostic equipment, what’s the one item in your business you really couldn’t afford to go without? If you answered anything other than “our practice phone” you are seriously undervaluing your greatest business asset. Yes, the humble telephone, invented in 1876 is still the most important item in any small business, veterinary practice or otherwise. While it is important that you invest in a well-performing web presence to capture local-area pet owners looking for a vet, and high-quality signage for the front of your practice to build your brand in the community; it’s all going to be in vain if potential clients can’t reach you on the phone. Opportunity doesn’t knock, it rings. Right about now you might be thinking “well duh, everyone knows that the phone is the primary source of contact for vet clients.” And you’re right, anyone who has spent even 10 minutes in a vet practice will know the phone is always a-ring-ringing . But what many practices don’t know, or perhaps underestimate, is the sheer importance of each and every call. To misquote Monty Python: Every call is sacred. The problem is most practices in Australia don’t engage with these calls as well as they could. The problem is in the way staff perceive calls, rather than thinking of a call as a golden opportunity , they think of it as just, well, answering the phone. “Yes”, “no”, “until 6 pm”. The main objective of answering the phone isn’t actually to answer questions, it to acquire new clients. The questions are your opportunity to build rapport with the person on the other end of the phone in the hopes of them making a booking. Rapport with clients is built and sustained through good customer experience (or CX). In a highly competitive marketplace, good CX is the only thing that stands between you and the potential client hanging up and calling the next practice on their Google list. Data shows that when a new customer contacts a practice less than 12% of staff ask for the pet name when taking phone enquiries, while only 9% ask for the pet owners name. This simple detail is a key step to building rapport with a potential client and helping to make them feel understood, valued and not just another distraction. The same data also shows that less than 20% of vet staff offer appointments to new clients who have contacted their practice by phone. While less than 25% offer prospective clients a recommendation for their pet. Do you know what your customers are experiencing when they call your practice? Are they greeted with a warm welcome and helpful advice, or has opportunity started to call your competitor? Get in touch if you want to learn more.