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why the first thing you say on the Phone matters most

Every vet knows that the first thing you say to a prospective patient on the phone has the biggest impact on their choice to book with your practice. Not only does what you say matters, it also matters how you say it.

As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.   

But, why?

It’s courtesy of a phenomenon known as “the primacy effect”, first described by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the 1800s. The primacy effect posits that people are most likely to remember the first piece of information presented to them more than anything else that comes after it. 

This means that the way your practice receptionists answer the phone can make or break your business. 

How do you know if your reception staff are leaving the best first impression? This is where mystery shopping can help.

Kristen Leigh, a mystery shopper with VetCX since 2018, says that the first faux pas she notices most when calls are answered is the tendency to keep the relationship transactional:

“Often a practice will pick up and you can tell in their voice they are keen to get the client off the phone – they are rushed and are not welcoming. Often they will even forget to ask a patient to book in an appointment.

“Many dive straight into prices which can be very off-putting to prospective clients.

“Each practice may have any number of other issues. What we do with mystery shopping is make regular calls to practices to uncover the specific pitfalls they are making when it comes to a good first impression.”

Kristen says there are three simple things that all vet practices can do to ensure that the first impression is the best one:

“Number one, answer the phone happy, with a smile. Even though you can’t see it, you can really hear the difference in a person’s voice when they smile and their tone is happy and relaxed as opposed to rushed and bothered.

“Number two, don’t underestimate the need to ask the pets name. It helps to really personalise the experience.

“Number three, ensure you enquire about the pet themselves – have a bit of banter and ask questions about the pet’s behaviour.

“Often people might be shopping around for a vet for the first time if it’s their new pet. All it takes is two minutes and the potential is to have a lifelong client,” she says.

If you’re not sure what impression your practice is leaving, VetCX can help. Our Client Insights program provides a mystery shopping service that gives a tailored snapshot into customer experience. Practices are benchmarked against their competitors nationally and locally, giving a thorough analysis of how well their customer facing staff are performing.  Get started today with a free trial .