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Recommendation Gap

The Recommendation Gap: Two True Stories
A researcher observed a veterinarian examining a dog and then recommending a dental cleaning with assessment, including fullmouth X-rays and an accurate treatment plan.

The veterinarian spent the next 5 to 6 minutes explaining the process to the pet owner, emphasizing the safety of the anesthetic and the like.

After the pet owner left the practice, the researcher asked the veterinarian how she thought the interaction went and whether she thought the pet owner “got it” and would schedule the procedure. Based on the lack of questions from the pet owner, the veterinarian was confident that the pet owner would comply.

A check with the client relations specialist indicated that the pet owner declined the opportunity to schedule the procedure. Clearly the doctor had failed to communicate the need for and the benefit of performing the service.

In contrast, another practice doubled its rate of dental compliance. This team reported that they had changed from saying, “I recommend a dental cleaning” to “We need to get these teeth cleaned and appropriately evaluated with full-mouth X-rays.”

The team emphasized that the “need” statement was followed by a clear explanation of the reasons why cleaning and asleep assessment was needed, the benefits of cleaning the teeth and the risks that would be avoided by following through on the recommendation.

Simply stated, the practice team must be certain that pet owners understand not just the recommendation itself but the value and benefit it delivers.

What versus why

Features are the what of compliance. Benefits are the why. To enlist client support, focus on the why.

Features are services rendered and their effects; for example, a dental cleaning results in clean teeth.

Benefits are the good that accrues from the effects. Benefits of dental cleanings include accurate assessment of oral health, healthier gums, better breath, less tooth pain, and the avoided risk of heart or other systemic diseases.

Source: Six Steps to Higher Quality Patient Care (AAHA Press, 2009).

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