Phone recordings can’t lie…

This week I read the very sad story of the social media attack on a veterinary hospital in Maine.  The practice was the victim of a poor-quality reporter who reported the story from the pet owner’s account and did not dig to get the full truth.  The practice did try, at first, to maintain professionalism by not commenting to protect the privacy of the owner.  Later they stepped out of protocol to tell the real “rest of the story”.

Everyone who ever worked in a veterinary practice knows that clients lie.  They lie about how long the pet has been sick, they lie about what they feed, they lie about money (even when they have it) and they even lie about whether the cat goes outside.  I have never believed any of these lies are malicious.  Most of them are about saving face, some of them are just out of ignorance and others are about moving guilt off of their shoulders and onto the veterinarian.  We all want to see ourselves in a good light. One hundred percent of us have been attacked by the phrase, “you only care about the money”.  To me, this was always just a fear reaction from a client who felt their back was to the wall.   

As many of you may know I am a big fan of recording telephone conversations coming in and going out of veterinary practices.  When I first was introduced to the Weave telephone system I was so excited that trainers could hear real phone conversations and then use them to fine-tune the communication skills of the team.  To me, the ability to text, collect payments, change the answering machine messages, etc. were all secondary to the recording.  These were a trainer’s gold mine if used correctly.

Recently I had a client practice dealing with an unfounded board complaint by a pet owner.  Much like the Maine practice I mentioned, this owner had developed a story in her mind of her own behavior and actions and decided to “punish” the doctor because of her perception of poor medical practice. 

“Thank goodness for Weave phones!”

The complaint came in 5 months after the fact and we were able to listen to every conversation, transcribe them all, and document this to the board.

Was there fault at the practice level?  Yes!  But it was an error in proper communication at discharge and not medical malpractice. 

I wonder if the practice in Maine had phones that recorded their calls.  Because this is a great way to have your team’s back when clients “selectively” remember situations and conversations that make them look like the hero …or the victim.  How simple it would have been to say to a client, “let’s listen together to our conversations and see where we misunderstood you”.  People are often shocked and apologetic when they hear their decisions, permissions, and instructions back in their own voice. 

We are always our own harshest judges.  Voice recordings help our team by letting them listen to their conversations, feel the nuances of the words they spoke and then if they are unclear, remember the lesson for the next similar situation.  There is also great safety in knowing that we have irrefutable proof that is easily retrieved of what clients actually say.  Just another way to support your team and back them up.  Win-Win!

I would love to know if you have used voice recordings to train or support your team.