Podcast #57

See Upset Clients for full introduction…

The last subset of clients we will discuss are the all too annoying “I Know Better” clients. These are the Googlers, the My Breeder Said, and the I Just Know clients.
Cat screaming while sitting on lap top
Clients that read “articles” online and then refuse to hear your professional opinion are frustrating. Informing clients of the dangers of Googling without knowing other possible conditions is one way to manage these clients.
Google, and search engines are great! The internet has increased access to information to the masses, and has completely changed how we learn, how we practice, and how we live.

However, it has also resulted in anyone thinking they know how to do ‘research’ and getting information easily, despite the validity of that information.

A huge part of our veterinary degree is knowing what you don't know, and also how to properly assess information. Understanding the difference between a blog, and a double-blinded controlled study.

Googlers often have no idea how to asses the validity of information. They also have a significant confirmation bias when assessing information, meaning that they have an idea of a condition they think their pet has, and they google and assess the results of their “research” in light of what they want it to be or think it is. Googlers are not very good at being objective in their research, and they are dangerously ignorant to what they don't know. This leads these “Googlers” to be some of the most frustrating and dangerous pet owners!

“I understand that you have done research on what has been going on with Fluffy, however part of our university of training is to know the various conditions that can look the same. If we just assume one condition we may miss something else, and that can be very dangerous for Fluffy.”

“Google can be a great tool, however it can also be dangerous as it google research often is self-affirming. The veterinary degree teaches how to fully assess a patient along with all the other possible conditions that can look the same. In order to not miss something vital in Fluffy, it is important that we fully assess his situation, as other possible causes of his signs include _____”
“My Breeder Said” Clients:
Sometimes clients put more value, more trust, more confidence, on what their breeder said or what their groomer said, than the advice we are giving as veterinary professionals. This can be both frustrating, time-consuming and honestly down-right disrespectful.

Clients may want to pursue treatment their breeder suggested over what your medical degree suggests. They may also want you to discuss the case with their breeder, which is a waste of your time!

“Your breeder is not a medical professional, and does not have a veterinary degree. My professional recommendation is ___ and is based off of evidence based medicine.”

“All your breeder did was buy two dogs and let them have sex.”

“Breeders don't have a medical degree, and unfortunately may make recommendations based on their beliefs and experiences sometimes instead of medical research. My recommendations are based off of science and evidence.”
“I Just Know” Clients:
Some clients have an idea about what is wrong with their pet. It might be that they have some sort of medical background, a pet with a condition before, or just idea. Often clients will link to events in their mind that don’t medically link, and cannot get them off it. This can be to blame an event or medication. Recently I had a client that was convinced that his dog was sick because it “had some salt on it’s potatoes” and I had the hardest time convincing him it could be something else.

“As a nurse/doctor/medical professional, you know that we need to consider all possibilities otherwise it is dangerous for Fluffy.”

This line is great for people that have, or think they have, a medical background. By stating that due to their experience they ‘know’ something, they will look or feel stupid if they contradict you.

“The word coincidence exists for a reason.”

This line is one I use when owners just will not relent that two events are linked by causation, when medically it doesn’t make sense.

“It could be that Fluffy has __, however it could also be x, y, z.”

By letting owners know that yes, their idea might be right, but it could be something else as well, and by educating them of these other possibilities, you gain their trust and confidence, and they are more likely to comply.

For more blogs on dealing with particular types of difficult clients, see blogs on Upset Clients, Dangerous Clients, Bully Clients, Manipulative Clients, and General Tips on Difficult Clients along with Self Preservation When Dealing with Difficult Clients.
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published April 8th, 2021

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

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