As a pet parent, taking your pet to see a veterinarian is one of those tasks that, while often pushed off, is necessary to ensure that your pet has the best care possible. Cat parents are all too familiar with the struggle to get their cat in the carrier, and dog parents know they may have to coax their pups into the car with treats or maybe a fake-out trip to the park.

Veterinarians are aware that coming in for an appointment can be a scary experience for your pets – which is why many veterinarians try to create the most stress-free waiting room possible. But what about the experience for pet parents before they even step foot into the hospital? As a veterinarian, the focus is on the animal, but have you thought through what kind of experience you’re providing for the pet parent before they come in?

We’ve broken down a few important ways that your clinic can provide clients a smoother customer experience:

Telephone Experience

For most veterinary practices, phone calls with a client are the most common method of communication. But what happens when there are too many phone conversations that need to be answered at once?

According to a study by Small Business Chronicle, most individuals will hang up after being on hold for one minute and 55 seconds. Alarmingly, 34% of those individuals who hang up after being on hold for too long will never call back.

Ensuring short hold times for your clients is crucial. The average hold time across industries is approximately 38 seconds. Simply getting your hold times down to less than 38 seconds means you’re in great shape.

However, putting someone on hold is inevitable in the veterinary industry. If you can, try to find other options for your visitors to contact you, such as through online appointment requests on your website or through a mobile app. If you have to put a client on hold, make the hold enjoyable! Try some of these ideas:

  • Have an associate create a seasonal hold messages – but make sure they’re consistently up to date
  • Play music that your staff enjoys listening to
  • Share some interesting pet care facts like information regarding fleas and ticks in the area, kitten season, or periodontal disease

When a client is sitting in silence, the wait can seem like forever – but filling the silence can help make the time waiting more bearable.

There will always be situations in which a customer calls you after hours. Whether it is an emergency situation, or accidentally calling thinking you are open, your client should still be able to receive the information they need. Most clinics have a separate line, location, or recommended 24/7 hospital for emergencies – make sure this is clearly communicated when a phone line is turned off for after hours calling. If someone calls your general clinic line outside of hours, what do you want them to do? Direct the client to the place that makes the most sense for them. If you have a website where they can book appointments, send them there. Set expectations and give them a time frame in which they can expect someone from your team to get back to them if they leave a message.

Desktop Experience

If a potential client has never visited your clinic or even heard of you before, there’s a good chance that they’ll start looking for a veterinarian with a search engine, like Google. To ensure that your clinic shows up on the top of the search engine, you’ll want to make sure that your website is optimized (SEO). According to a study by Search Engine Watch, the number one result in Google receives 33% of the traffic from that search. We highly recommend localizing your SEO strategy to help bring in clients who are searching for vets in your neighborhood and to help increase your ranking.  

SEO is one way to optimize your client’s experience, but have you taken the time to visit your website in the eyes of a brand new client? There are many elements that go onto your veterinary website, but you want to ensure that the most important information is clear and readily available. If you’re unsure whether or not your website is easy to use, have a friend who has never visited your website before navigate through your website. Watch as they try some simple tasks, such as:

  • Find the phone number on the website
  • Submit an appointment request
  • Find a list of services you provide
  • Find information on the doctor/staff who will care for their pet

Having someone who is not quite familiar navigate the site gives you a good idea of how an average person will react to it. You could be surprised! If they have trouble doing any of these tasks, you’ll want to consider reorganizing your website to make it extremely easy to find the most important information.

Mobile Experience

In addition to making it simple and easy-to-use on a computer, your website absolutely needs to be optimized for mobile phones. According to a study by Statista, 52.2% of ALL website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones. This means if your website is not optimized for mobile traffic, half of your potential client base will have a hard time navigating around your website.

Think about how you use your phone on a day-to-day basis. What causes you to check your phone? The most common answer is a notification – whether for a phone call, SMS message, or a push notification. Now think about how you remind your clients about their appointments – will they react to that message with the same sense of urgency?

By having a mobile application like PetDesk on a client’s phone, you’ll be able to send important health service reminders to the client’s phone where they can quickly schedule an appointment with one or two taps, instead of relying on clients to remember to call during business hours. Not only is this incredibly easy for your clients, but this can also help create more efficient booking processes and cut down on your clinic’s phone call volume.

The End Result

By modifying your tactics to match current clients’ behaviors, you’ll be able to see an increase in appointment requests while relieving you and your staff of some busy work. With a reliable stream of patients coming in regularly, you’ll be able to focus on what you do best: providing the best care possible for your patients.

If you’re interested in learning more about how PetDesk can help improve your client’s experience, sign up below to chat with one of our practice management consultants!

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