On your journey to becoming a Practice Champion, you’ve undoubtedly discovered that the road does not follow a straight line. Along the way, implementation efforts may need to be reviewed and communication and messaging adjusted. Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) Preventive Pet Healthcare Toolbox offers a resource to help the team effectively communicate the importance of preventive care and to determine how clients are processing this information.
Most practices survey clients occasionally to obtain feedback on practice services, staff, and conditions. An opportunity survey, which is available on the PHP website---is different because it asks clients to revisit their preventive care conversations with staff and assess what they heard and learned, with the goal of using the responses to flag areas that may be problematic and shape and improve future communication strategies.
Opportunity surveys are applicable to both staff and clients. The templates can be used as-is or modified. However, unless clients complete and return them, they will have little impact on determining how clearly preventive pet healthcare concepts are conveyed to clients.
Once you’ve decided on the survey that will be used, step back and take a critical look at the questions before distributing it to clients. Consider the following:
- How will clients respond? Because you know your clients, put yourself in their position and imagine how they will respond to the questions. Will your clients lose interest in the survey because of the way questions are worded? Is the survey too formal? Are the questions straightforward? Adjust the survey, if necessary, to make it more likely that clients will complete and return it.
- Have you tested the questions? By reexamining the questions with a small group of testers you will gain a better understanding of whether they elicit responses that are relevant to the practice’s specific needs. Be on the alert for loaded and leading questions.
- Is the survey’s purpose clearly explained to respondents? People are busy and are reluctant to engage in time-consuming activities without understanding why. Be sure to outline the intent in a cover letter, email, or on the first page of the survey. Include information about why it is being administered and how the results will be used. Engage your clients and highlight the essential role they will play.
- Are all clients fluent in English? If the practice serves non-English speaking populations, create the survey in the language that clients are reading fluent.
Many clients, many formats
A survey is only effective if the respondent takes the time to thoughtfully complete and return it. Your clients represent diverse age groups, genders, ethnic backgrounds, and preferences. To promote broad participation, keep these differences in mind when deciding the format in which the survey is released. For example:
- There are still clients who prefer to work with a hard copy and a pencil. Completing a paper survey may not be a popular alternative but it is not obsolete. If the paper survey is distributed in the office, have pens and a table, desk or clipboard handy. Create a survey box to allow respondents to submit the survey anonymously. If clients prefer to complete it at home, provide self-addressed, stamped return envelopes.
- Explore the SMS option. SMS is a powerful channel to request feedback from clients who, like most of us, are always in close proximity to their phones. With higher open rates than email, it’s a strong alternative. Be sure that the mobile template looks great when opened on a device.
- When emailing the survey, don’t underestimate the power of the email’s subject line. It can determine whether or not the client will open and complete the survey. Also, be sure to follow survey requests with reminder emails that highlight the importance of client participation. Finally, make sure all emails originate from a real person. Emails from a generic address tend to end up in the trash.
It’s the little things that are just as important
As you communicate to clients the importance of their feedback, remember to express gratitude for their contributions. The “please” and “thank you” can be oral or written, as long as they are aware of how valuable their input is to promoting preventive pet healthcare.
Thoughts on incentives
Completing a survey can be time-consuming. To make the process worth the client’s time, sometimes offering a small incentive for completion, such as a discount, a coupon, a small promotional item, or entry into a drawing can propel the client to act.
Survey fatigue is real
In a busy world, enticing clients to complete surveys, especially those that require a significant investment of their time, can be a big ask. Therefore, when the practice chooses to evaluate its communication efforts by surveying clients, make every effort to ensure that the survey is clear and concise and the content obtained is essential.
For more information about the Opportunity Survey and becoming a Preventive Pet Healthcare Champion, visit https://partnersforhealthypets.page.link/Fe5N.