People mistakenly believe the veterinary field is all puppy kisses and kitten cuddles, but once they join the industry, they discover the majority of their work directly relates to people. As such, a lot of talking takes place every day between veterinary professionals and clients, which can be a drag on practice efficiency. Plus, repeating the same thing over and over, especially information that could be automatically communicated through a text, email, or other virtual channel, becomes mundane.
Improving your client communication methods can boost practice efficiency. With luck, clients may remember your heartworm prevention spiel, too! Give the following client communication methods a shot, and experience increased efficiency and productivity for yourself.
#1: Better communication prevents you from repeating yourself over and over
If you fail to make yourself clear the first time, you’ll likely have to repeat yourself over and over, which can be challenging when you’re explaining the reasoning behind diagnostic testing, sharing a diagnosis, or outlining a treatment plan. To streamline your conversation, use various tools to help make your point effectively the first time.
For example, show pictures of dental disease stages, pointing out the patient’s current stage. Visual aids can be highly effective in explaining an important diagnosis or pet health topic. Pairing a dental disease chart with a discussion about corresponding health issues can nudge your clients to take action and schedule a dental cleaning, instead of you having to repeat the conversation at the pet’s next annual exam.
Learning how to best communicate and reach your clients, whether through models, brochures, or videos, will shorten otherwise lengthy conversations, thereby increasing your practice’s efficiency and productivity.
#2: Multiple communication channels make reaching your clients easy
As more and more people want to use technology to schedule appointments, consult with their veterinarian, and ask quick questions about pet care, you need to meet your clients where they want to communicate. By providing multiple communication channels—app chat, text, email, Facebook messaging—your team can field client queries in a fraction of the time of a phone call. Better yet, you can automate many mundane tasks that once required phone calls. With technology, you can fully or partially automate appointment scheduling and confirmations, vaccine histories and reminders, prescription refill requests and notifications, and much more, freeing up your team to help in-clinic clients.
For example, instead of playing phone tag all afternoon, you can send a brief chat stating that Fido’s neuter surgery went fine, and he will be ready to go home that evening. Include a picture of Fido snuggled up in recovery—that takes only a second, but will boost client satisfaction and strengthen their bond to your practice.
#3: Templates, forms, and protocols keep communication consistent
With short-staffing a major issue for veterinary practices around the country, practice managers often have to hire people with minimal veterinary experience, and their lack of knowledge about common diseases, vaccinations, parasite preventions, and practice protocols can greatly hamper client communication. To help new staff catch on quickly to your practice’s operations, create communication templates that cover common protocols. This way, your brand-new CSR will know what vaccinations a 12-week-old puppy will likely require at their appointment, and instead of running to find a veterinarian or technician for the information, they can answer the client’s questions on the phone.
Another way to help speed up your practice’s workflow is having clients fill out forms prior to their appointment. Send forms that cover general history and lifestyle questions digitally through email, text, or your practice app. You can also gain surgical, diagnostic, and treatment consent using these forms. Covering the bulk of the paperwork in advance through digital communication tools greatly improves practice efficiency.
#4: Updating client education tools can modernize your communications
Is your client handout on the flea life cycle faded and misaligned from years of being copied? If so, it’s high time you update your client education tools. Switch to a digital format for important pet health topics that can be shared on your website or easily accessed through your practice management software or the cloud.
While many people still appreciate a brochure or handout on pet health, more and more are turning to videos for education and instruction. You can create a library of customized pet care videos that demonstrate how to give insulin injections, clean ears, trim nails, and evaluate a pet’s body condition. Simply send the link for the appropriate video to your client—they can refer back to the video if they have questions, which will help limit additional phone calls or appointments about the care task.
#5: Setting expectations for your clients saves valuable time
In the age of curbside care, in-practice appointments, or some hybrid version of both, your clients are likely confused about the best protocol to follow, so let them know what to expect prior to their appointment. If you require masks to enter your practice, or only two people can accompany a pet, your clients need to know that in advance, to avoid fumbling around when they arrive.
Also, let clients know what to expect in terms of common procedures, like spays, neuters, and dental cleanings. If a pet needs to be fasted before surgery, tell your client that information—ideally multiple times—to ensure your instructions are followed. Nothing is more frustrating than needing to reschedule a surgery patient who shows up after eating a full breakfast, essentially taking up two valuable appointment slots.
Since veterinary medicine is more about people than you ever expected, you need to level up your communication skills, not only to provide better medicine, but also to boost practice efficiency and productivity.
If you need help communicating with your clients, turn to a team of clever professionals to put your thoughts into written words. Contact our Rumpus team to discuss your client communication projects.