Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Would love to meet some other managers in the area for lunch to discuss the following topics this Friday, June 24. Anyone in the area interested in meeting and bettering our management skills?
Agenda: June 24, 2011
• Contrast business management and business leadership and
describe when each skill set might be used to best advantage
• Understand and apply the five practices and ten commitments
of leadership as described by Kouzes and Posner
• Understand and be able to facilitate an effective dialogue and
decision-making process for the individual and within work
• Conduct effective, efficient and productive team meetings and
• List the characteristics of a high performance work team and
demonstrate the ability to form, build and support effective work
• Learn how to effectively coach practice employees to assure
consistent and exemplary results
• Develop comfort and skill in having difficult conversations and in
applying disciplinary policies as required
• Outline how one might motivate employees and apply employee
performance management techniques in a veterinary practice
• Create a specific action plan to exert a positive leadership
influence in their own veterinary practice
Monday, June 20, 2011
1) Why have you decided to leave the organization?
2) Was a single event responsible for your decision to leave?
Many of these questions can give you insight as to current employees---what could you be doing to make them happy...to retain them as team members. Questions like number 3 can also give you additional insight beyond whether as a manager you ignored requests or concerns by that team member may have made...It tells you if they have "vented" to your remaining staff-potentially stirring the pot or raising concerns or creating "fires" before their departure. Having the opportunity to sit down with your team and address these issues head on will gain you respect among your staff and will boost morale.
Your team wants to know you are listening and that they are being heard. If you don't take time out of your day to be the mentor, counselor, friend (in the office--never outside--but that's another blog rant), and a teacher, your team will stop coming to you for assistance, advice, concerns and will begin to go to their co-workers. When employees start to take their concerns to other staff members, you have lost control and are no longer seen as someone who is able to "fix" their problems. They are trying other outlets.
When I performed (or tried to perform) an exit interview recently, I was told that that particular employee preferred not to participate in the exit interview. This is always their choice. However, a comment she made really struck a chord. She said "I decline to participate, but I think those would be great questions to ask your current staff". It was beside the point that we have provided this survey to the staff twice in the time she had been employeed--her memory did not recall that she had been given an outlet a couple of times to anonymously answer these questions. I quickly went home and created a survey on http://www.surveymonkey.com/ so that the staff could answer these questions candidly and from the privacy of their own home. I hope to get some good answers and be able to address any issues that may come up that we have not realized. The fact that this employee told me I should do this gave me the sneaking suspecion that she had heard some grumblings.....you know...those grumblings that everyone else in the practice hears and never make their way firsthand to management.
Have an open door policy. Take the time (at least a couple of hours per day) to do walk around management---listen to the staff; listen to how the staff communicates with one another; listen for patterns or grumblings and see if you can address them as a mentor/friend/coach.
Do you perform exit interviews? If so, what questions do you ask your staff? Do you give them verbally, written, in a survey form, etc?
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ~Epictetus
Monday, June 13, 2011
Recently, I stayed at a Fairfield Inn while visiting friends in Norman, Oklahoma. I was given a card on my pillow that said:
We promise to always
-Make you feel welcome
-Give you a room that's clean, fresh and reflects the highest quality standards
-Respond promptly to any need you might have
-Give you the service that will make you want to return
If, for any reason, you believe we're not keeping our word, please tell us immediately. After all, a promise is a promise.
I know this is such a simple little thing, but it made me feel comfortable and at ease. I decided we were going to "borrow" this approach for our Pet Hotel. We were going to give every client a little card when they drop their pet off that says we are going to provide their pet with the best possible care while they are gone. We posted a sign in the Pet Hotel office that says "HOME AWAY FROM HOME" and we all signed it.
But, what good is just saying you will do something? What other things have you put into place to really SHOW people that you are taking good care of their loved one? We send email and text videos and photos of the pets while they are with us. How do you show people you are taking good care of their animal while its boarding at your facility? If you don't work in the veterinary industry, how do you show patients, clients, etc that you care about them?
Monday, May 9, 2011
1. Initial phone call
Sample Script: "Thank you for calling the Animal Care Hospital, this is Christen, how may I help you? Oh sure, Mrs. Jones-I can give you the price of a new puppy visit. Your first puppy appointment will be scheduled for 1 hour, to allow you plenty of time to address any questions or concerns you may be having with the nurse or doctor. The doctor will perform a head to tail exam to check the eyes, ears, oral cavity/teeth, lumps/bumps, listen to lung sounds and address any abnormalities. Secondly, we will tailor a vaccination protocol for your specific pet. Often times the doctor likes to split up the vaccines and boosters into a few different appointments for the safety of your pet. Finally, we will perform an intestinal parasite exam to ensure that your puppy has not contracted any worms or intestinal parasites. We usually send out this stool sample and send you home with a prophylactic dewormer. Our initial exam is $60.00, our intestinal parasite exam is $28.00 and our vaccinations range from $12-$20 depending on which vaccinations the doctor chooses to give today. I have a 6pm appointment available on Tuesday or would you prefer a morning appointment?"
There are several things that a detailed phone script can do for your staff. Other than giving them a comfort level on what to say to the client, they are presenting the information in a way that will set the client up for success. We are explaining to them the services before giving the prices. We are providing knowledge and information. We are letting the client know how long to expect to be at the clinic for their first appointment. We are letting them know to come with questions. We have told them an estimated price. We have provided an appointment suggestion without a yes or no. You never want to say "Did you want to go ahead and schedule an appointment?" Never present questions with a yes or no response. If you do, be prepared for the response to be 'no'.
When you book the appointment, you should discuss with the client information that will prepare them for their appointment. I would recommend obtaining at least 2 phone numbers and an email address. Send the client a welcome letter via email before their appointment. Let them know you will be sending them their new client paperwork via email prior to the appointment. Let the client know that bringing this paperwork with them to the appointment will ensure that they are able to spend as much time as possible with the doctor. This helps your clinic because you will not get as behind on appointments as you do when a new client spends 15 minutes of their 60 minute appointment filling out paperwork in the lobby. You should ask the client what number and time is best to reach them for their appointment reminder.
Sample Call and Confirm Script: Hello Mrs. Jones, this is Christen calling from the Animal Specialty Hospital. I wanted to remind you of Chloe's appointment with us tomorrow at 9:30am with Dr. Smith. Chloe is due for her physical exam, rabies vaccination, lepto vaccination, heartworm test, annual labwork and intestinal parasite exam. Please bring with you a teaspoon size stool sample and remove food from Chloe after midnight so that she is fasted for her labwork. If you have any questions or concerns or need to reschedule Chloe's appointment, please call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you and Chloe tomorrow morning at 9:30".
In this script I have reminded the owner of the appointment time, I have set the stage for the items that are due (notice I didn't ask her at any point WHAT she wants to update..only what the doctor recommends) and have asked her to bring stool and fast the patient.
Another recommendation is that you call each client the day after they have been at your hospital. Kennel assistants should call clients to see how their pet is adjusting to being back home from boarding stays. The CSR should call to see how clients liked their grooms, how they are feeling after exam/vaccines, and see if they are eating a new diet prescribed by the doctor. Nurses should call back clients with sick pets and check in on how the pet is eating, drinking, taking medication, etc. It is preferable that the nurse that assisted with the appointment the day before be the one to call the client. This makes the client understand how much you personally care about their pet. I believe it is important for the nurses to follow up on sick appointments to avoid the CSR having to put the client on hold and go find someone to answer the medical questions that are likely to come up. The nurse should check on the patient, ask the client if they are having any difficulties giving medications and provide support and guidance for any concerns the client might have. At this time, the nurse could schedule the follow up appointment if it had not been done so by the CSR at check out.
You can provide scripts to your Nurses for many topics as well: kitten talks, puppy talks, reasons behind heartworm testing, physical exams, annual labwork, senior panels, IPEs, heartworm prevention, etc. Again, having a uniform message for clients is so important and having a script and training on the reason behind WHY you do certain tests can give your staff that added confidence they need to provide confident, reliable, courteous client service.
Please feel free to share sample scripts you use at your business and share additional "touch points" where you call your clients. Lets come up with the perfect scripts together!
Friday, May 6, 2011
I also love McAlisters on Lakeview Parkway and Liberty Grove. You may ask yourself why I keep specifying the location that I like. This is because McAlisters has mediocre food and at most locations I've been to, a very mediocre staff. Not this McAlisters! While the food may actually taste just as average as it does at the other locations, the food seems to taste better at this location because the staff is so darn nice! You just feel warm and fuzzy walking in the door. They all have smiles on their faces. They often remember what you order. They remember where I have said I work and they ask about the animals.
The morale of these two random food "shout outs" is that they keep me coming back for more than the food....they keep me coming back for the service. When people come to your vet office or business, do they get this warm fuzzy feeling? Are they greeted by a friendly smile, a warm welcome and a bottle of water? Do your staff members remember the clients name and use it when they greet them? Do they remember the pet and say "Hello Max" instead of "What a cute baby"? Do they differentiate your practice from all those like it by adding that something extra to the experience?
A wonderful book, which I recommend to every business, not just medical offices, is called "If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 things you would be differently" by Fred Lee. You will notice that in the previous paragraph I asked you about "adding that something extra to the experience". The chapter titles alone in this book can teach us a lot about creating that "experience" that people are looking for. The perfect client service that keeps people coming back for more.
Chapter 1: Redefine Your Competition and Focus on What Can't Be Measured
This chapter focuses a lot of the perception of the client. (Notice I said client and not customer--Veterinary offices have clients and patients and should have Client Service Representatives, not Customer Service Representatives). Something as simple as communication can help perception and help a client know that we are concerned about them and their pet. An example from the book is "lets say there is a lot of commotion at the nurses' station while giving a report to the next shift. A nurse quickly closes the patient's door out of concern for the patient's privacy. Yet the patient probably thinks, Why are they closing my door? I'll bet they are talking about me. The way to create the impression of concern is to say something to the patient like "Mr. Lee, would you like your door closed? We get pretty noisy out here while we're giving report. It shouldn't last much longer. Only by concentrating on what is said while doing something, did hospitals begin to see significant improvement in patient perceptions that staff showed a concern for patient privacy".
Can you think of any instances where you or a staff member may have done something that the client could have perceived in the wrong way?
Chapter 2: Make Courtesy More Important Than Efficiency
I believe the title is fairly self explanatory. Courtesy should be more important that all else in the hospital. If you are friendly to clients and communicate with clients, they are far less likely to be upset when the emergency is triaged ahead of them, or if their phonecall is returned 15 minutes late. Smile. Be nice. Communicate. Let them know what is happening and why and how you are going to provide them with excellent client service when its their turn.
Can you think of any areas in your hospital/business where you may sacrifice courtesy for efficiency? How are you going to change this?
Chapter 3: Regard Patient Satisfaction as Fool's Gold
Just because a client is satisfied, does not mean they are going to return. Satisfaction has nothing to do with loyalty. You should be measuring client loyalty and not satisfaction. One effort beyond a person's job description can win customer loyalty. If you don't do something special for a guest, they won't remember you. And if they don't remember you, why would they come again? Try this. At your next staff meeting, end the meeting with a simple question. Has anybody done something special for a client lately? Maybe a receptionist delivered food to a clients house because they were feeling ill. Maybe a nurse offered to pick up Fluffy on their way into work because the owner was going to be at the office. These are the something extra that keep clients happy and loyal and coming back for more.
Which of your employees have gone "above and beyond" for a client? Did they offer this solution on their own? How were they rewarded?
Chapter 4: Measure to Improve, Not to Impress
Don't just send out a "satisfaction survey" to see where you rank. Follow up with clients in a manner that allows them to be real about their feedback--not inflated because the employee is watching them fill it out. Spend time in staff meetings problem solving and passing along compliments when they come. Make everyone a part of creating a culture of soliciting feedback to improve, not impress.
What are some questions from your "satisfaction surveys"? What is your measurement scale? Who comes up with decisions on how to change negative feedback?
Chapter 5: Decentralize the Authority to Say Yes
Empower your staff to say YES. Don't put too many systems in place where the CSR can't make a decision that directly impacts the satisfaction and loyalty and happiness of a client. Mrs. Jones needs to return food. She comes to the building with 5 cans of A/D. Do you have a CSR staff trained to do a return for the food? Are they authorized to take it back? Can they run the card for a refund? You should have empowered the employees to take care of this task because it directly relates to the satisfaction of the client. You have your CSR do recalls the next day to see how the client liked their pet's groom the day before. They hated it. Are your CSRs trained to just say 'I'm sorry you didn't like it. I'll have the groomer call you or I'll have a manager call you or hold on while I go see if there is something I can do. If so, this is not the case of an empowered employee. They should be trained to say "Mrs. Jones, I apologize that Fluffy's groom doesn't meet your expectations. Are you available to bring Fluffy in tomorrow for a regroom at no additional charge? We want to do everything we can to make sure you are happy with Fluffy's groom. What can I do for you"?
In what ways have you empowered your staff to take care of client concerns and issues? Can you think of any issues where you feel you can't hand over the reigns? Why?
Chapter 6: Change the Concept of Work From Service to Theater
"Everyone expects Disney to regard entertainment work as theater. After all, they are in the entertainment business. They are trying to create an escape from reality. When guests enter the world of Disney, they enter a make-believe world of fantasy and fun. But a hospital is about as real as life can get and as far from most people's fantasy of fun as anyone can imagine. Here, where patients are hurting, sad, anxious, and depressed, entertainment is not what they are looking for. Would Disney really define work as theater if they ran your hospital? Absolutely. And here's why: Disney World is not a service; it's an experience. So are movies and plays. Hospitalization is not a service either; it's an experience. Hospitalization provides a stage to facilitate the experience of healing. For both Disney and hospitals, it is more accurate to describe their business as providing a transforming dramatic experience than delivering a service. Not all drama is meant to be fun. But all successful drama is a transforming experience". Keep in mind: Casting good actors helps make a good director.
What does your business do to create an experience for your patients and clients?
Chapter 7: Harness the Motivating Power of Imagination
Try this exercise with your staff. Have them imagine some good friends whom you have not seen for a long time but would love to see. Now imagine you just found out that they are coming to spend the weekend with you. What would you do to prepare for their visit. They will probably write things like: mow the lawn, change the sheets, clean the bathroom, stock the fridge, wash the cars. Now ask them to make another list with some things they would refrain from doing while they are here if we want them to have a good time and return again. They will probably write things like: let them use the bathroom first, respect their privacy, ask them what they want to eat, be awake before them in the morning. Then point out that we all know how to treat a guest in our home. Lee says its no different at Disney. We are hosts and our customers are called guests. Please treat them as you would if you knew each one of them personally and liked them. Treat them as you would if they were staying in your own home. And do it every day, all the time. Help us keep our promise to them that we are here to make them happy--just as you would make your own guests happy.
How does your staff keep your clients/guests happy? Does the CSR staff keep appropriate small talk going with the client while they
Chapter 8: Create a Climate of Dissatisfaction
Take the negative stereotypes that are born out of dissatisfaction for similar businesses and create your business around it. Walt Disney did not invent the amusement park, but he did want it to have immaculate gardens and walkways and wanted well groomed employees. He wanted people to enjoy waiting in lines and wanted shows and restaurants and park benches for those who don't enjoy the rides. If necessity is the mother of invention, dissatisfaction must be the father of improvement. You shuold create an environment where good isn't good enough and you can always do better. Your employees should know that they exist to satisfy your guests/clients. The determining question regarding all suggestions in a service industry should be "How will this affect the perceptions of clients or guests".
Does your staff ask themselves this question before speaking or acting?
Chapter 9: Cease Using Competitive Monetary Rewards to Motivate People
The author of the book says that he witnessed a great client service interaction of a flight. He saw a flight attendant who did a wonderful job dealing with an upset client. He complimented her and she thanked him. A few moments later, she returned with a comment card. She asked him if he would fill it out with his nice compliment so that she could win a trip to Hawaii. Fred Lee says that it ruined the whole idea of her doing a good job because he knew then that her actions were to better herself, and not a sincere, caring action taken to help a client.
Do you have any reward programs directly related to client service? What are they?
Chapter 10: Close The Gap Between Knowing and Doing
What separates a good business from a mediocre business is consistency in day-to-day execution of universally shared values. Empower your staff. Keep people around that do what you ask of them and provide the service you expect of them ALL THE TIME, EVERY TIME. Don't allow staff to "do things the right way" only when someone is watching. Same service every time. Preach it. Live it. Retain your clients and build loyalty that keeps them coming back for more of your great service.
"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."-Roger Staubach
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
news are that emotional intelligence skills can be learned. (This must be so because emotional intelligence is shown to increase with age.) However, for this to happen, people must be personally motivated, practice extensively what they learn, receive feedback, and reinforce their new skills.
You FEEL things like "I feel _____". For example, you feel helpless. You feel taken advantage of. You feel jealous. You feel skeptical.
Being aware of your communication style creates a higher EQ. A higher EQ creates a group of people that are comfortable speaking to each other and addressing conflict and creating solutions. Can't you see how this would lead to a better work environment?
7. Validate other people's feelings
This is something that is so important to be aware of because it translates to client communication as well. If you say to a client "Your pets are all overdue on their annual items" it could be perceived by that client that you think they are a horrible pet owner and shouldn't even have a pet. Maybe thats not what you meant at all, but how many clients are going to say to you "now wait a minute, I've been a great pet owner". Not many. Most of them are going to call and speak to someone else and have their records transferred elsewhere and you are never going to know about it. If you have a low EQ, you might not think anything of it. If you have a high EQ, you might read the clients body language and know immediately that you said something wrong. This gives you the opportunity to apologize and build the relationship back up.