Don’t Be That "Nightmare Client" Your Vet's Staff Can't Stand

Frustrated Vet
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It’s hard for veterinarians not to notice when their staff is out of sorts. The decibel level in the office will rise just a bit, questions may be accompanied by a scowl, and if I’m not mistaken, that answer was just delivered with a snarl. Indeed, when things are not as they should be, even our patients can seem a bit on edge.

Fact is, by far, the No. 1 reason for an unhappy veterinary office is obvious to even the most out-of-touch veterinarian: A “nightmare client” just happened.

“Nightmare client” is how many of us refer to those people whose expectations will inevitably outstrip any human ability to make them happy. But there are also those who may undeservedly attain nightmare status simply by failing to pay attention to certain courtesies our veterinary culture deems customary.

Which is why I thought it best to address what not to do as a series of informative don’ts.

(Now, the vast majority of you don’t really need to read this since you’re already as well behaved as you can be, but I nonetheless feel compelled to offer this up, if for no better reason than to prove how much your veterinarian probably appreciates you.)

Don’t... pull a Jekyll and Hyde.

Clients who offer their “model client” face for their veterinarian’s benefit but act surly toward the staff aren’t fooling anyone. Furthermore, it’s somehow extra uncool when we know you can behave but simply choose not to. 

Don’t... show up without calling first.

Don’t worry; it’s OK to show up unannounced if you’ve got a dire emergency and don’t have access to a telephone or you’re too stressed out and worked up to call, but here’s the thing:

a) Emergency or not, it’s nonetheless best to call so we can have staff and supplies at the ready for critical patients and to help manage everyone’s time most effectively.

b) Most clients who engage in this behavior are chronic offenders who should know better by now.

Don’t... yell at the reception staff.

For some reason, staff members manning the front desk get more lip than the rest. I guess it’s because they’re the gatekeepers, but that still doesn’t make it right.

Don’t... “forget your wallet.”

Even if it’s true, a respectful client is contrite enough to make good almost immediately. A nightmare client walks out and needs to be called repeatedly before finally surrendering a credit card or perhaps a backdated check — if we're lucky.

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