The Veterinary Ambassador… aka Your Receptionist

0 Comments Posted by Alyssa Noonan in General, Marketing on Thursday, October 24th, 2013.

The receptionist in your veterinary hospital can make or break your veterinary reputation.

You’ve invested generously to renovate your waiting area; your veterinary clinic boasts all the latest and greatest medical technology; you have Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to market and connect with clients, but have you considered the impact of your receptionist?  

It is salient to have a well-designed website, strong Google rankings, quality  brochures, and logos representing the best; but when pet owners call your veterinary hospital or walk through its doors, the receptionist creates those unforgettable first and final impressions.

“A great front-desk staff communicates with our patients to satisfy their needs and solve their problems,” advises pediatrician Howard Rice, president of Town and Country Pediatrics. “They sometimes are shock absorbers or play the role of an educator, translator and psychologist to the needs of patients.” And as Bob Levoy, of Veterinary Economics explains, “[This] is as true in veterinary practice as it is in pediatrics, perhaps more so.”

It is old school to view the receptionist as low man (or woman) on the totem pole. She/he is like an ambassador, meeting and greeting clients, explaining policies, organizing office staff, taking care of calls, scheduling and changing appointments, and handling payments. This job requires:

  • a great personality
  • outstanding organization
  • intuitive people skills
  • common sense
  • concrete knowledge of your veterinary practice & policies
  • sound judgment
  • diplomacy
  • quick thinking
  • office software mastery

Bottom Line: Your Receptionist Matters 

Of course pet owners count on your veterinary team for excellence. But your receptionist is responsible for:

The Phone Impression: She/he is the first contact for existing and potential clients. Whether it is responding to a general question, scheduling an appointment, or listening to a concerned pet owner, her tone, efficiency, ability to provide meaningful information, and friendly nature translate to confidence – or lack thereof – in local pet owners. You get just one chance to make a first impression!

The Physical Welcome: As clients walk through your door, your receptionist either makes them feel welcome, comfortable, and cared for or sends signals of apathy and/or incompetency. As one pet owner from New Jersey shared, “I loved the veterinarian I used to see, but the receptionist never even made eye contact. I was uncomfortable waiting my turn, with my shaking dog, and feeling like nobody up front even cared.”

The Wrap-Up: Post examination, your receptionist will provide the invoice, ensure clients leave with appropriate products, handle payments, secure future appointments, and of course have that last word. Whether it is a warm word to Fido or his human parent, it finalizes the client’s overall experience. 


 You Get What You Pay For 

The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” is meaningful when it comes to your bottom line. Skimping on a receptionist’s salary may mean skimping on competency, skills, and invaluable experience. As Marnette Denell Falley of  Veterinary Economics pointedly asks, “If you paid more, maybe you could get someone with amazing communication skills and experience who would learn every client’s name and handle any complaint with finesse. What would that be worth?!”



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