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Overcoming “Dr. Google” – How to Improve Client Education and Retention

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

One of the biggest hurdles today’s veterinarians have to deal with is the propensity for clients or prospective clients to turn to Google for answers about their pets’ health care needs. As those in the industry are well aware, doing a web search for outward symptoms rarely produces accurate results, yet time after time, well-meaning pet owners will show up at their vet’s office with a printout of what they believe is ailing their pet. Worse yet – some choose self-diagnosis over seeing a vet altogether.

Not only is this risky for the well-being of the animal, but it can also potentially cut into the profits of your practice. So, how can you overcome this? What’s the most effective way for educating clients about the dangers of trusting “Dr. Google” so you can help keep patients healthy and your practice profitable? Here are a few suggestions.

Provide your own resources

Your clients and prospects are inevitably going to go online when they have questions about their pets’ health. Why not address this head on by providing your own wealth of resources? (DVMelite websites feature a comprehensive pet health library filled with hundreds of expertly written, veterinarian approved articles.) Not only does this allow you to control the quality of content that your clients see, but it also keeps them engaged with your practice, increasing the chances of booking an appointment.

Make yourself available

Most people recognize that advice from a practicing vet is much more trustworthy than anything they can find online. The problem is getting them to pick up the phone and reach out. You are undoubtedly busy running and managing your practice, but if you are not presenting yourself and your team as a valuable resource that welcomes client questions and concerns, you could potentially be losing business as a result. Even if you aren’t the one fielding all the calls, a friendly front desk clerk is a good place to start.

Extend your reach beyond the visit

Another great way to instill confidence and solidify your practice as the most trusted resource for pet health issues is to keep the lines of communication flowing before and after a visit. For instance, sending out a monthly newsletter with links to trusted articles, emailing FAQs or ‘what to expect’ documents prior to a scheduled procedure and sending clients home with printed resources can all assuage client concern and reduce the chances of a potential Google search.

Take the time to listen

If you aren’t spending enough time listening to your clients’ concerns or inviting and answering their questions, you’re driving them to find what they’re looking for elsewhere. If necessary, extend appointment times by a few minutes to allow adequate time for your clients to discuss whatever might be on their mind. It will take a little longer, but doing so will ensure that your patients are receiving the best possible care and will also help you form more meaningful relationships with your clients, which in turn breeds loyalty. In other words, it’s a win-win.

Will you ever completely overcome Dr. Google? Probably not. But by implementing the above strategies, you can dramatically improve the chances that when your clients and prospects need help with their pets, it’s you that they’ll trust as their most reliable resource.

Our Tips, Tricks, and Expert Advice

How can veterinarians educate clients about the risks of relying on online self-diagnosis?

Veterinarians can educate clients on the risks of online self-diagnosis by providing accurate, vet-approved resources, discussing the complexities of animal health in person, and highlighting the dangers of misinformation during consultations.

What can veterinarians do to present themselves as accessible and trustworthy resources?

Veterinarians can present themselves as accessible and trustworthy by offering quality educational content, responding to inquiries, and maintaining an active, informative online presence, including social media engagement and a user-friendly website.

How can practices extend their educational reach beyond office visits?

Practices can extend their educational reach by sending newsletters, sharing expert articles on social media, providing informative take-home materials, and maintaining an educational blog on their website to engage clients continuously.

Why is it essential for veterinarians to take time to listen to clients' concerns?

Listening to clients’ concerns allows veterinarians to provide personalized care, builds trust, improves client satisfaction, and enhances the likelihood of accurate diagnosis and compliance with treatment plans.

For more practice management tips, tricks, and expert advice, bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh content.

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