Does The Customer Experience Really Matter? Do You Measure It? If Not ... You Will After This Session!
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2008
Alison Lambert, BVSc, MRCVS
The Old Vicarage
Horbling, Sleaford, UK

You will all be very familiar with evidence-based medicine... well, it is time for evidence based practice management. This session will look at the role of the customer experience in growing your business.

Customer Experience

The customer experience has been key to the success of many of the leading businesses you will have in your towns and cities. All major retail and service businesses measure a few very key numbers on a daily basis. If it works for them, you can learn the same disciplines and use them appropriately in your practice.

The key numbers for a business that retails goods or services are:


 Average weight of purchase

 Return / square foot

Footfall is the number of people who actually walk into the store and this is crucial. If they aren't in the store, they won't buy. Driving footfall for a retailer is crucial so they will utilise many tools and techniques to get people to visit. How many pet owners visit you every day? How many telephone your practice every day? This is your footfall.

Average weight of purchase is the sum spent by a person whilst in the store. Knowing this number, the store can find ways to increase the figure so that every footfall generates more spend. Do you know your average weight of purchase for your cat and dog owners? They will be different.

Finally, the return per square foot is exactly what it says and this measure is used to decide how to best utilise the space in the store so better decisions are made about what to stock, where and what to delist. Do you measure the areas in your practice that generate the best returns? Can you use your available space better?

You are probably thinking 'why is this in any way relevant to me in a veterinary practice?'

The key discipline for a successful business is always measuring those things that make the business tick. The vital aspects of the business for a thriving veterinary practice, the customer experience, has a direct impact on the footfall in the practice and is the route to new owners trying your service and existing ones coming back.

Without footfall, the practice will fail. It is crucial to understand where your footfall comes from and why.

In the current climate, where there is much competition for the pet owners, money and pet owners have more and more choice for their cash--getting them into your practice at all is key.

Convenience factors and consumer drivers will get them to choose you once; the experience they have with you will determine if they return and if they tell their friends is good or not so good.

In the session we will look at some of the numbers showing that you need to base your practice management on evidence rather than gut feel or intuition.

Customer Experience--What Do You Measure

The customer experience is crucial in a world where folks are more choosy and demanding and there is choice in vet care. How do you measure it? Do you measure both phone and face-to-face?

When was the last time you checked the local competition out? Do you know when they last 'mystery shopped' you?

The primary care team consists of the reception team, the nurse team and the vet--in that order! Those who spend most time caring for the owner on the phone and face-to-face are crucial to you.

 How much did you spend on vet CPD last year?

 How much on nurse CPD?

 And how much on reception team CPD?

Getting the pet owner footfall gives your team a chance to shine by delivering a fabulous customer experience. So, if you can get folks in the building you will make an impression. Letting them 'walk on by' will be a lost recommendation. Even if they don't see a vet or spend a penny, a good experience will get talked about.

Your business needs a key set of numbers which will become the Temperature, Pulse and Respiration (TPR) for your business. The following three numbers will become your TPR. Once you learn to use these numbers you will have an impact on footfall and, as such, will be able to develop a good business.

So, for management, the TPR is simple and based around AIR:

 A = appointments offer %. This is the footfall driver--get all enquiries into the building to meet your fabulous team.

 I = information %. All owners need to know more about you than any other practice in town--drive footfall.

 R = recommendation %. Become the place to go and gain the recommendation--more footfall.

 So, for evidence based practice management you need to always know the AIR numbers in your business.

What are they for you? Do you know? Are you guessing? This session will give you five things to do in the next five days to get your customer experience making a difference to your practice.

List your five things to do here:
1. _________________
2. _________________
3. _________________
4. _________________
5. _________________

Speaker Information
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Alison Lambert, BVSc, MRCVS
The Old Vicarage
Horbling, Sleaford, UK

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