Customer loyalty is a key part to building a success vet practice. It is so easy for pet owners to change vets. Often all it takes is a single recommendation or loss leader to tempt a valued client away. This works both ways of course, but what can practices do to ensure they retain as many clients as possible?
Good customer service is certainly a start, but it will only take you so far. It pays to think about tools and ideas that can help improve your customer retention further.
Aside from Pet Health Plans, there are a variety of ways in which customers could earn and redeem loyalty points. Fifty points, for example, earned through repeat visits or by promoting your practice through likes, shares and recommendations on social media, might earn the customer a free branded gift or food product; 100 points might earn them a free or reduced-price check-up. However you choose to implement it (paper-based or digital, for example?), a loyalty scheme can encourage engagement and repeat visits.
Customers could qualify for a ‘freebie’ based on minimum spend, or perhaps on the pet’s birthday or the anniversary of their first visit. These could be relatively low-cost options like practice-branded pens, notebooks or keyrings – or pricier options like branded pet accessories for the higher-value customers. This is also a great way to recognise long term clients that have been with you for years.
Are you already reminding clients by text or email when their next check-up or flea treatment is due? Are you as proactive and responsive on social media as you could be? Client posts mentioning your practice should be reacted to with a thank you (if positive) or feedback (if negative) and any questions should be answered promptly. People love to read about themselves and their pets so why not feature willing customers on your website as case studies?
Educational and social events.
Why not invite loyal clients to the practice after hours to meet the vets in a social setting and give them the chance to ask questions and learn new things. This could be in the form of practical demonstrations, or to join you celebrating a practice milestone. You could even host an outdoor event such as a picnic for clients and their pets. Events like these help clients to feel more engaged with the practice – all for the cost of a few bottles of wine and some nibbles.
Support local events.
Cost-effective activities such as taking a stall at the local village fete help reinforce the practice’s position as part of the local community. You could use your stall as a way to sell food and accessories, dispense generic advice and give existing and potential clients a chance to ‘meet the vet’.
Customers should feel they have an open line of communication to you, whether that be for complaints, praise or suggestions. Make sure clients know how to give you feedback (for example, via a notice-board in the practice, a suggestions box in reception, or social media). Then ensure you respond to the feedback and make customers feel valued and listened to, by addressing any complaints and letting customers know if you’ve implemented their suggestions.