Client education is an essential part of ensuring pet owner compliance. Unfortunately, effective communication is not without its challenges. Far too often, assumptions are made about pet owners – and that can cause important information to fall through the cracks.
So what are some of these misconceptions? And how can we work around them to improve client education and compliance?
Research suggests there are several specific ways through which adults learn best – and incorporating these learning methods into your approach can help you communicate better with your clients.
But first, we’ve got some client education myths to debunk.
Myth 1: If you have the resources, they will come
Although this is a common one, it’s not the case. Having educational materials is not enough – you have to spread the word. After all, how will your clients know what resources you have to offer if you don’t tell them first?
Letting your clients know about resources is handy for a couple of reasons. It’s good for both your marketing strategy and client education. If you can be your clients’ go-to pet expert at the clinic and at home, you can widen your scope of practice and increase compliance.
Now, how do you share? Step 1 is to tell clients in person. Then, you can build on that information by sending them home with informational and instructional documents. Beyond that, you can also take advantage of social media and even email them relevant articles.
Using a tool like ClientEd enables you to offer a library of resources to improve pet owner education – and share them out, too. Articles are written and reviewed by pet health experts, and can be printed, emailed, and accessed on your veterinary website to provide an alternative for clients who may otherwise turn to Dr. Google.
Myth 2: Clients will remember what you tell them
This just isn’t true. On average, people retain only 20% of what they hear – and when it comes to a pet’s health, this number is way too low. How can you improve on this number?
Send them home with information
Visits to the clinic can be stressful for pet owners, particularly if their pet is in distress. In these cases, their ability to retain information can be limited by their emotions.
It can help to reinforce the information you tell clients with written handouts – this way, they can see exactly what you’re telling them and refer to it at home whenever they need it.
Show them how it’s done
It can also help to give the client an opportunity to practice skills with you in the clinic. A study from 1980 suggests that adults learn best with active participation. Given that pets spend the majority of their time with their owners, it is important to engage clients as partners in the health of their pets.
For example, if a pet owner is going to need to change a bandage for their pet at home, bring them in and have them help you do the original bandaging. Not only will this give them hands-on experience, but it also gives you the chance to immediately correct improper care.
Myth 3: Pet owners don’t need to understand the importance to understand the concept
Again, this is just not true. The same study from 1980 also suggests that adults learn best when they understand why it’s important for them to learn. Otherwise, the information can come across as a waste of time and effort. Why learn something if it isn’t important?
Before jumping straight into the deep end of a topic, first explain how important the information is and why it’s relevant to their pet. Although it can be tempting, avoid trying to scare them into seeing the importance – instead, focus on the benefits and what it can do for their pet.
It’s also a good idea to open up the floor for questions. Always invite your clients to ask for further clarification on importance before you proceed to explain the information.
Myth 4: Clients need to know everything about a topic that pertains to their pet
While it’s important for the pet owner to know what it takes to maintain the health of their pet, there is simply no need for them to know everything that you do. Over-teaching can be daunting for both you and your client, and it runs the risk of pet owners remembering small details instead of the essentials.
The best way to handle this is to keep it simple. Try not to assume anything about what clients already know (or don’t know), because this could either waste time through repetition or cause confusion if the material is beyond their understanding. Stick to the essentials, and try to avoid using complicated medical terms – this way, you can both reiterate the information for an informed client and educate on the basics for a client without prior knowledge.So there you have it — four common client education myths debunked! If you can identify any of these misconceptions in your own practice, it could lead to easier, more effective communication with clients. When you increase your awareness of adult learning techniques, you open the floodgates of understanding. As pet owner education improves, so too does client compliance.
Want to boost client compliance and communication in your practice? Check out ClientEd! It’s got pet owner–friendly content that your clients can access whenever they need it.