We’re not merely delivering a transaction, we’re also providing peace-of-mind for people and their pets. We advocate and help the family members who cannot speak for themselves—our pets! We understand how stressful and emotional it can be, and that’s why we focus on the overall experience. It’s what has kept us to grow and THRIVE.
Claire has been in the veterinary industry since age 15. After holding a variety of positions in both large and small animal practices, she founded up her own veterinary hospital and boarding facility in 2005 in Florida. Operating her own hospital for 13 years taught her a great deal about the veterinary industry and how to be an effective advocate for pets and their owners. She’s also had experience as a multi-industry public speaker and an athletic youth coach. These combined experiences, along with higher education, led her to where she is today working with pets and the people at THRIVE. She has worn a few hats in her time at THRIVE, which in two years since she’s been there, has grown from 20 to 96 locations.
Why is customer experience important for you and THRIVE?
One of the things I’ve always loved about this industry is that it’s not just about a customer experience. It’s a patient experience. We’re not merely delivering a transactional experience; we’re providing peace of mind for people and their pets. Veterinary medicine has been focused on the human-animal bond, way before academic human-animal bond courses were a craze. We’re where people go to take care of their family members that can’t speak for themselves. We understand how nerve-wracking it can be to knowyour family member is in distress. There is nothing more important than the experience, and that’s what has kept us THRIVE-ing and growing.
How are you raising the bar on customer experience?
Reducing steps for our teams and our customers is at the foundation of THRIVE process. By utilizing digital interaction tools and automating processes, we allow the time and focus to be on the pet. Instead of having the client spend a lot of time filling out paper forms, we have built macros into the software; put apps in place; implemented online booking, and even created animated videos so that teams can refer to those during their consultations. We want everything centered around the pet. All of these tools help the customer focus on what they want to talk about with the veterinary team. We even have a macro to follow up with a request for feedback so we can make sure we are not missing the mark. This was especially helpful during COVID to ensure the processes we were putting in place were what customers were expecting and wanting.
What do you see happening in the world today that makes you believe Customer Experience is more important than ever?
I think one of my area business managers said it best: we are missing the “body language” opportunity. Covid doesn’t allow us the same opportunities to have the moment of silence, with the facial expressions to match. There’s no opportunity to see the client’s face when you're giving good or bad news. That has seriously heightened the need to verbally communicate. We’ve done a lot of coaching so we can stay connected with our clients. When it comes to customer interactions, we want to keep those personalized. Those moments are bonding experiences for the technician, the vet and the client. We always want to deliver family-member news in the best manner possible.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of what the team has gone through during these tough pandemic times. The number of my team who came to work despite having their own family members and pets. Despite customers being under a lot of stress, the team persevered and made a ton of changes quickly - sometimes overnight! We’ve adjusted quickly to new requirements, and our NPS has actually been rising. I’m just really proud to be part of leading this growing and adaptable team.
How do you inspire employees to put customers first?
I came into THRIVE when we had 21 locations, and now we are at 96 and growing. We will reach our 100th location in October of 2020. I have the pleasure of working with people who worked in the first THRIVE hospital. That perspective and influence has helped keep our THRIVE culture intact as we’ve grown. We continue to do well and grow because we always encourage people to do the right thing. First and foremost, we want all employees to treat our customers like family members. It’s a very personal experience for all of us. Our culture is based on staying aligned, being a strong team, being optimistic, continuously growing in our skills, and ensuring we keep integrity at the heart of our interactions with our customers. We take the time and have conversations and treat everyone’s pet as if they were our own. It’s remarkably complex to keep a great culture like this intact with such fast growth, but I am dedicated to maintaining this level of positivity as we continue to grow. THRIVE is focused on people and pets. The people are those that make up our veterinary clinical care teams, our leadership and national support teams, and our valued customers. And the pets are those of the customer that trust us with care, as well as our own family pets.
Can you share a fun customer anecdote?
From snakes to bunnies to dogs and cats, we’re never short of stories. I read our feedback every day, and one of my favorite things to do is to hear from our customers. I love the Birdeye report that allows me to see all of our customer reviews and experiences. Our NPS is on the rise, and there are always great stories to share with the staff.
About Claire Pickens
Senior Director of Operations
THRIVE Affordable Vet Care, part of the Pathway Veterinary Alliance family of hospitals
Number of LOCATIONS
96 and growing
Executive MBA, Jack Welch Management Institute
Strayer University, Bachelor of Arts in
Human Resources / Minor in Marketing
Years in position
Years in CX
CVPM – Certified Veterinary Practice Manager
SHRM-CP – Society for Human Resource Management – Certified Professional
CSSGB – Certified Six Sigma Green Belt
Fear Free – Low Stress Veterinary Hospital Care and Handling Certification
I have an addiction to acronyms! And I’m an athlete at heart: I love crafts! I paint with acrylics and like to build scaled models of little villages.
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Winning over 400 awards for 10 quarters in a row, Birdeye is the most-awarded and highest-rated customer experience software for healthcare practices of all sizes.