If you’ve managed to become successful in the veterinary industry, chances are you’ve already mastered the art and science of providing exceptional medical care to patients. But, that is not the be all and end all. In fact, of equal, or perhaps even greater importance is communicating effectively with their owners. Without this ongoing connection, your practice will inevitably suffer. Whether you struggle with communication or you simply feel that there may be room for improvement in this area, here’s how we recommend creating stronger connections with your clients.
Use Social to Be Social
Social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have become an integral part of most peoples’ lives. This makes them powerful and highly effective tools for community building and client communication. Take advantage of this by being active and engaged on your social channels. Strike a balance between fun, light-hearted posts, practice news and announcements, and educational opportunities.
Include team members in your posts, not just pets. This can help to establish more of a personal connection and differentiate you from other clinics in your area. And remember to include a call to action in any post where it’s relevant, such as a “book now” or “click to call” button.
Use App Technology
These days, it seems everyone has a smart phone. The beauty of this is that it allows you to place your vet clinic right at the fingertips of your clients. If you are so inclined, creating a branded app for your clients to download can be a great way to stay in contact and communicate regularly. To maximize the effectiveness of app technology, be sure to choose (or build) an app that allows for push notifications, appointment requests, prescription refills and a loyalty program.
Boost the Human-Animal Bond
Studies have shown that people who are most closely bonded with their pets prioritize things like nutrition, exercise and ongoing wellness care. By focusing your efforts on enhancing this bond between your clients and their animal family members, you’ll simultaneously improve their health care. A great way to put this into action is to create a questionnaire for your clients to complete. This should be done for each new client, and updated on an annual basis.
Ideally, the questionnaire should be designed to collect information, not only about a patient’s medical history, but also his or her lifestyle, activities and overall personality. This will enable you and your team to get to know your patients on a more personal level, which will in turn facilitate more customized and therefore effective care.
While the underlying goal of improving client communication should be creating a personal connection, that doesn’t necessarily mean every interaction has to be manual. In fact, many day-to-day client communications can (and should) be automated. For instance, leveraging software to keep track of appointments and send out reminders will keep your clients connected and engaged without bogging down your team.
For optimal results, use your practice management software for more than just the basics, like checkups, vaccines and parasite prevention. Dig deeper and program reminders for other important things, like six-month follow-up tests for chronic conditions. Little touch points like this serve to solidify the relationship between your team and your clients, working in conjunction for the good of their pets. And that, in turn, will ensure a steadier stream of appointments on your calendar.
Be Open about Payments
Many practice owners find the subject of payments to be an uncomfortable one. Thankfully, with the right approach, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, experience has shown that the more open, honest and proactive you are with your clients about the cost of care and what their options are, the more trust and overall compliance you’ll achieve.
Start by offering as many payment options as possible. This should include wellness plans, third-party payment options and pet insurance. Be flexible and forthcoming with your clients. Train your team on how to communicate with clients in a way that is educational and supportive. This will ensure consistency and reduce the likelihood of unexpected financial hardships that can cause frustration and drive a wedge between clients and their pet’s health care provider.
When it comes to client satisfaction, communication is key. Thankfully, there are plenty of avenues a practice owner or practice manager can take to ensure that ongoing connection and engagement. Put any of the five suggestions above into practice and you’re sure to see improved results in a short time.