Nursing is the ultimate caring profession, and when you are a veterinary nurse, caring does not just stop with the patient.

You probably know about Bertha, the Onswitch training bus. Many of you have even spent the day with her. Together we’ve helped hundreds of nurses successfully hone their consulting skills, imparting useful tips and having some fun along the way.

We’ve also met a number of nurses who have been booked onto courses by their practice to learn about improving the customer experience. And our experience is that a significant number of them appear to feel that this is not part of their role, that they are somehow not part of the customer service team.

The fact is that customer care is a huge part of being a veterinary nurse. You would think nothing of holding the door for a client struggling with a boisterous dog, or of demonstrating the best way to administer a pill to a wriggling cat, so it makes sense that you would give the same amount of your time and knowledge to a pet owner on the end of a phone who needs to have their rabbit vaccinated.

"It’s not my job,” some have said to us. Sure, your practice receptionist is paid to handle queries, complaints and requests from clients. But so are you. Those you pick up are more likely to be about worming or diets than appointments and accounts, but it is the job of everyone at the practice to deliver an excellent customer experience to your clients. Because if you don’t, they will take their custom to one of the other local practices that will.

It’s actually not that difficult to keep your clients happy – after all, we’re all customers ourselves so we know what works. A friendly smile, a genuine interest in what they say and a desire to help will take you a long way. When the whole practice team is working together it generates a tangible buzz that draws clients back, and gets them telling their friends just how good you are.

And it feels good when you’ve put down the phone to a pet owner who started the call as a speculative enquirer about vaccination prices, and has ended it as a client of the practice after you chatted with her about puppy classes and booked Roxy in for a health check.

So next time you’re passing the reception desk and the phone rings, smile and pick it up! As a VN, you are an essential part of the customer care team at your practice – your clients certainly think so, so don’t disappoint them!

And don’t forget you can follow Onswitch on Facebook and Twitter for a regular dose of common sense and a repeat prescription of practicality,


Kristie Fairbanks VN

To cite this and other BVNA content use either DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2012.00166.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 26 pp 154

• VOL 27 • April 2012 • Veterinary Nursing Journal