How to Find the Client Loyalty Drivers in a Vet Practice? Results of a European Study Run on 7500 Pet Owners
Client loyalty is at the same time a key success indicator and resource generator for the practice. It can be obviously improved by enhancing the quality of the vet service. But which ones should be prioritized in order to optimize our efforts and not to invest in what is not important for the clients?
Materials and methods
A qualitative study has identified the elements of service based on which the clients evaluate the practice. Simultaneously a client loyalty scale has been adapted from the science of management literature to the vet profession. These 2 scales were included in a client questionnaire distributed in 50 small animal practices based in the UK and in France during 2002 and 2003. In Early 2004, 7500 usable questionnaires were collected and analyzed in SPPS, the leading software in social science.
The importance of each element of service was calculated as the correlation between its performance and the level of client loyalty. It was then cross-mapped with the actual level of performance to produce an importance-performance plot. It was then possible find the elements of service which are important for the clients but where the practice is not performing. These elements of services are the priorities of improvement to generate client loyalty, i.e. they are the loyalty drivers.
It appears that most of the client loyalty drivers are not common to every clinic. Each practice has its specificity. Fortunately the methodology used is widely reproducible and all practitioners will be able to apply it in their own practice.
Among the common client loyalty drivers we have found elements of service linked to the client communication within the practice, the waiting time and area and the feeling of being recognized by the practice.
This study shows how a scientific approach can be applied in practice management. It demonstrates that the practitioner's efforts and resources can be better allocated in order to increase client loyalty. This will not only save time and money but also really motivate the practitioner and his team who will see quicker the results of their actions. Last but not least, it will enhance client satisfaction.
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