Success in veterinary practice requires careful balancing of stakeholder needs. The aim of this study was to investigate the current expectations and needs of veterinary clients across a range of practice types. Interviews and focus groups were undertaken with veterinary clients to identify the capabilities of veterinarians that result in the best client experience, generating a 'Veterinary Capability Framework'. This comprised six main capabilities each containing 4-10 behavioural indicators: client relationships; professionalism; communication skills; decision-making and problem solving; commitment to animal welfare; and commitment to quality and the profession. An online survey was then conducted to validate the importance of these capabilities, which was completed by 1446 mostly UK and Australian clients. The data have allowed us to develop a 'Client Hierarchy of Needs' which emphasises the fundamental importance of commitment to animal welfare and veterinary capabilities to the client experience. This study is part of the VetSet2Go project, a collaborative international project to define the capabilities most important for employability and success in the veterinary profession today.