When you dreamed of being a veterinarian, you never imagined you’d spend so much time talking to people. Instead of snuggling puppies and kittens all day, you actually spend the majority of your work hours—and after-work hours—educating and counseling pet owners. To help you step up your game and cater to what your clients really want in terms of veterinarian-client communication, follow these five up-and-coming trends.
#1: There’s an app for that
If you’re not connecting with your clients through their phone, you’re likely losing the millennial generation to a practice that does. With an app available for every conceivable task, having a hospital-branded app allows your clients to tackle pet care from their phone. However, with so many app providers available, you may be overwhelmed with choosing one. Determine what gaps you are looking to fill, or ways you want to improve your client service, and focus on those. Some of the most beneficial app features to look for include:
- The ability to send push notifications regarding appointment and health service reminders
- Communication channels with the veterinary team (e.g., two-way messaging, video chat)
- Appointment and prescription refill requests
- Client loyalty program to drive client visits and revenue
- The ability to view pet medical history and vaccination records
Clients are begging for easier ways to reach their veterinarian, and telemedicine offered through an app can fulfill that need. Additionally, a practice app can help automate many team member tasks, or shift that burden to the pet owner. For example, pet owners can send vaccination records to boarding facilities, schedule their own appointments, and see when their pet is due for a visit.
#2: Call to action: Your social media posts, that is
When you scroll through your Facebook page, is it all pictures of adorable pets? While a cute picture of a puppy may garner lots of virtual attention, what purpose does it serve? Change up your social media game to encourage pet owners to take action, like scheduling an appointment, heading to your online pharmacy, or simply checking their pet for ticks. Sneak in educational content with your cute posts, then end with a call to action. For example:
“Tucker the labradoodle puppy came to our hospital for his first visit with Dr. Smith today! While those curls are incredibly adorable, they’ll need regular grooming to prevent mats. If your pet has a fur coat that needs a helping paw like Tucker’s, schedule an appointment with our groomer!”
#3: Share client education content online
Are you still giving your clients paper handouts covering their pet’s diagnosis or postoperative care? It’s time to upgrade to digital templates. Not only will switching to digital client education handouts save your team a ton of time, it appears more professional than those faded, lopsided paper copies. Create an online library that lives on your website to allow pet owners to access at any time, then send the link to a specific diagnosis or home care instruction resource through your practice app or email.
Another way to share great client education content online—and to boost your value and credibility in pet owners’ eyes—is to publish regular blog posts. Regular website updates help you rank higher in search engines, plus pet owners and prospective job candidates can see how dedicated you are to pet care.
#4: Compete with Chewy
Do you have an online pharmacy? Or, is a vast inventory eating up your profits? While it’s nice to be able to offer every parasite preventive as your clients check out, it’s simply not feasible when running a business. Instead of letting your clients escape to Chewy or Amazon for pet care supplies, hand out business cards with your online pharmacy’s information. You’ll no longer need to stock a wide assortment of prescription diets, shampoos, preventives, and more. Your clients will love the convenience of autoship, which delivers their pet’s prescriptions straight to their door each month, and you can set prices to be competitive with Chewy and other large online retailers.
#5: Money is no longer a taboo topic
According to Synchrony’s 2021 Lifetime of Care report, three out of four pet owners consider an unexpected expense of $250 or more a financial issue. And, a significant number of pet owners—45% of dog owners and 38% of cat owners—who originally thought they were financially prepared for pet expenses were not. With pets accruing costs of up to $55,132 over the course of their lifetime, pet owners need to know their financial options when it comes to veterinary care.
Money is no longer a dirty word. While you will always get those clients who complain about your costs, many more of your clients will be appreciative of up-front, transparent discussions about treatment plans and pricing. Start financial discussions early, at puppy and kitten visits, so new owners know what upcoming charges to expect. Ensure your entire team knows what financing options you offer (e.g., CareCredit, Scratchpay, VetBilling, etc.), and provide informational handouts on each. Link to financial resources on your website, and occasionally spread the message on social media about your convenient financing options. Even better, have a designated team member help clients apply for CareCredit or alternative options in your practice. Not only will your patients receive better care, your clients will appreciate the financial assistance you “provide,” all without extending a line of credit backed by your practice.
Do you need help communicating with your clients? We’ve got your back. Lean on the Rumpus Writing and Editing team for help crafting actionable social media posts, comprehensible blog content, or informative newsletters to reach your community. Drop us a line to get started.