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A Mystery Shopper Can Provide Insight Into Your Veterinary Hospital

2 Comments Posted by Vet Network in Blogs, General, Marketing, Veterinary Marketing on Thursday, July 5th, 2012.

One of the most effective ways to assess the overall performance of your veterinary hospital is to sit yourself down in the client’s chair and find out what their experience is like. Hiring a mystery shopper is a tried and true method of finding out what is working, and what is not, in your practice. A mystery shopper can provide you with an objective point of view and offer results that you can immediately take action on. This, in turn, betters your efforts in veterinary marketing, as well as online reputation management.

A mystery shopper is also not just designed to find where things can be improved. The experience can be used to highlight where you and your veterinary hospital employees are performing well – or even exceeding customer expectations. The results can be an effective morale builder.

The Benefits of Veterinary Mystery Shopping

According to statistics published by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), millions of mystery shops occur every year to:

1. Gain customer insight. Get direct, unbiased information from the customer’s point of view. What is the experience like from the moment the client and pet steps into your veterinary hospital to the minute they leave? Is the treatment explained well? Does your client understand homecare instructions? Is there appropriate client follow-through? Using a veterinary mystery shopper helps you optimize your veterinary practice’s connection to your clients.

2. Assess the small details. Service, as you know, is more than simply providing high quality veterinary care. It’s also based on how well you and your veterinary hospital staff members interact with clients, and the level of politeness and empathy you show to your clients and their pets. This translates to a better online veterinary practice reputation, more clients, and more return clients.

3. Assess veterinary hospital sales. You probably offer more than medical care. You may have a hospital retail center that sells pet foods, toys and products for at-home care. This is an essential part of your revenue stream. If there is a flaw in your selling process, all the veterinary marketing in the world cannot compensate for lost sales opportunities. Mystery shoppers can provide you with a performance audit that can highlight any challenges you may have in your sales chain.

4. Assess your veterinarian hospital’s response time. Veterinary secret shoppers can phone your practice to determine how timely your customer service is. If hospital clients are frequently left waiting on the telephone, this can obviously affect your bottom-line. If you provide veterinary emergency care, the report can detail how well your response time is as well as the quality of your medical care.

5. Assess your customer service flow and veterinary practice layout. An experienced mystery shopper can evaluate less tangible areas, such as the comfort of your waiting room, cleanliness, or how well your products and client information are displayed.

The process is simple. Contact a third-party company that provides mystery shopping services, including for veterinary hospitals. Costs can vary depending on the number of visits the service recommends, the level of detail you require, and other factors. You provide the service information on what data you wish to monitor and they will assign one or more veterinary mystery clients. After the visits are completed, the final report card should present valid, actionable results. The unbiased results allow you to make needed adjustments – or to praise any performance – relevant to every facet of the veterinary health care services your clients and their pets receive. You can also schedule follow-up visits to see whether any changes you have implemented are achieving the desired results.


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2 Comments for A Mystery Shopper Can Provide Insight Into Your Veterinary Hospital

Kathy Doering | July 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Thank you for this Mark – you are exactly correct. Mystery shopping has been around for over 50 years and is very effective in seeing your business through the eyes of the customer. It is like a covert audit.

Another area I would add is competitive shopping. It is a good idea to conduct this type of research from time to time as well. Keeping up with charges, procedures and care is critical in today’s business climate.

Additionally, some mystery shopping providers don’t take on small chains. You must have a minimum of X number of locations before they will quote you a price. We are a boutique agency and work with everyone as do many others in our industry. Most companies have a national reach as well.

BestMark | July 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm

This is a great idea since most people care so much about their pets. Veterinary hospital employees (including veterinarians and owners) need to understand that their performance is important especially if they want to succeed in today’s market. Customer service is king, and hiring a professional shopper will let you know how you perform. Thanks for the post it was very detailed and thorough!

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