Veterinary Curbside Communication Series: Surgical Drop-Off Communication Tips
So you dropped your fur baby off for surgery...now what...sit and worry? Not anymore!
There are few experiences that are more stressful for a pet owner than dropping their pet off for surgery. What's Baxter doing right now? Is he comfortable? Has his surgery started yet? Is he resting? Is he getting pets? And the list goes on and on and on...
What happens at the veterinary clinic when pet owners are concerned?
Let's start with the back story. Village Vet accepts all surgical drop offs at 8:00 AM on Thursdays (surgery day). They have a full surgical schedule. Amanda, Baxter's owner, is told that Baxter will be hanging out and comfortable but likely won't get his surgery until the afternoon. Standard discharge time is 5:00 PM. Amanda forgets all of this in her concern and vows to be an active participant in the surgery, whether Village Vet likes it or not!
8:00 AM Baxter is dropped off
9:30 AM Amanda calls, what's going on with Baxter (5 minutes of staff time)
12:00 PM Amanda calls again (5 more minutes)
12:30 PM Baxter goes in for surgery
12:40 PM Amanda calls...again... (5 more minutes)
1:00 PM Amanda calls....yes....again (5 more minutes)
1:30 PM Baxter is out of surgery
1:40 PM Village Vet calls Amanda -- she has a lot of questions, "are you sure he's okay? I want to see him!" (15 minutes)
4:00 PM Amanda wants to see Baxter, can't she come early? No. (3 minutes -- we shut this one down fast, Baxter needed more time to rest).
5:00 PM Reunited and it feels so good! Baxter is comfortable and happy as he rides home with Amanda, he doesn't even notice how disheveled and stressed she looks.
Total Phone Time: 38 Minutes (not counting the time of the technician staff and reception team running around the clinic to get answers)
Pet Owner Satisfaction Score: C Amanda wasn't satisfied -- even though expectations were clearly set up front by Village Vet. Amanda just wanted more. Baxter got amazing care, but both Amanda and Village Vet left frustrated by the experience.
What happens when Amanda feels like a participant with proactive communication?
Let's look at how the day could have gone with a text message based approach:
8:00 AM Baxter is dropped off
9:30 AM Village Vet sends Amanda a picture of Baxter getting pets (5 seconds of staff time)
12:00 PM Village Vet updates Baxter's tracker to show he's in surgical prep and sends a saved note from the database that prep takes 30 minutes and he'll go into surgery around 12:30 (10 more seconds)
12:30 PM Baxter goes in for surgery, his tracker is updated so Amanda gets a text. A notes is sent to let Amanda know she'll hear from the clinic in 2 hours and that Baxter is in good hands! (10 more seconds)
12:40 PM Amanda looks at the picture of Baxter getting pet instead of calling and is glad she picked a clinic who was treating her floof like he's their own.
1:30 PM Baxter is out of surgery, Amanda gets a text with his tracker update and a picture of him resting comfortably in recovery -- a full hour before she expected to hear from the clinic -- what a relief!! (10 more seconds) **She shares the picture on Facebook raving about how she has the best veterinarian and how happy she is that Baxter is safe and resting**
1:40 PM Village Vet calls Amanda -- she has questions but feels like she's been a participating, she keeps it to 5 minutes -- she trusts the clinic. (5 minutes of staff phone time)
4:00 PM Village Vet sends Amanda another picture of Baxter and a note that says he can't wait to go home in an hour! (5 seconds of staff time)
5:00 PM Reunited and it feels so good! Baxter is comfortable and happy as he rides home with Amanda
Total Phone Time: 5 Minutes Total Time Sending Fur Baby Tracker Updates: 40 seconds
Time Saved: 32 Minutes 20 Seconds Pet Owner Satisfaction Score: A