5 Communication Tips for When There's No Time to Waste
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the veterinary industry has been struggling to catch up and return to normal. However, the pandemic has shed light on key practice areas that need improvement, especially client communication. With inefficient processes and COVID-19 safety protocols eating away precious minutes every day, communicating effectively—and efficiently—will help ensure your clients get the information they need without dragging you further behind.
Although listening to your customers' stories about every pet since childhood can be important for building your relationship, you don't want to cram your preventive care discussion, disease diagnosis, or treatment plan into the final five minutes of their appointment.
Efficiency is the key to accomplishing more in less time. Here are five ways to achieve that when communicating with pet owners.
1. Record Videos of Common Pet-Care Tasks
How often do clients ask you to show them how to trim their pet's nails, clean their ears, or brush their teeth? Demonstrating these common pet healthcare tasks can eat up a great deal of appointment time, but an instructional video can teach them on their own time.
You likely have one team member who isn't camera-shy and would be perfect for a pet-care education video. You might also consider compiling them in one easy-to-find location, such as a YouTube channel. Then, you can share links to specific videos as needed.
2. Use Your Social Media Channels
When you need to inform clients about a general subject, such as a parasite prevention promotion or your practice's holiday closures, look to your social media channels. Save time by scheduling Facebook posts in advance to let clients know about this and other important information.
You can also use social media to share snippets of pet health information. Consider sharing something like this:
We diagnosed heartworm disease in more pets this month than ever before! Head over to our online pharmacy to stock up on heartworm prevention to keep your furry pal safe. For more information about this serious condition, check out our blog post.
Not only does this blurb educate clients about heartworm disease, but it also lets them know you have an online pharmacy for convenient prescription ordering.
3. Include Educational Content on Your Website
Clients don't absorb everything you tell them in the exam room; there's typically a lot for them to take in at once. Reinforce exam room conversations by sharing links to your practice's relevant website pages and blog posts via email or text. Clients will appreciate being able to get a refresher on their pet's condition or treatment plan on their own time after the appointment.
If your practice has a blog, your topics can cover everything from common diseases and holiday safety to preventive care and behavior management. If you don't have time to write your own blog posts, turn the task over to a professional veterinary writing company.
4. Create Client Education Handouts
A tangible form of your practice blog, veterinary client education handouts are great for pet owners who prefer paper to e-readers. Instead of discussing the flea life cycle until you're blue in the face, design a handout, complete with an infographic, for your client to take home and read. Many of your veterinary diagnostic partners may already have education handouts you can use so you don't have to create one yourself. Finally, when a client purchases flea prevention, link a code in your practice software to automatically print your flea handout to ensure they receive it.
It's also a good idea to have digital copies of these handouts available on your website, so clients can access them if they're interested in learning about various aspects of pet health.
5. Use Your Practice Management Software
Most practice management systems include valuable client communication features that can integrate with other software, apps, and products to extend your capabilities. Depending on your system, you can automate health service and appointment reminders; schedule callbacks; print templatized discharge instructions; collect secure digital payment; or email invoices, estimates, consent forms, and educational materials. Some systems even offer a client communication platform and app, allowing your clients to take on many of those time-consuming tasks themselves, such as scheduling appointments, accessing vaccination histories, requesting prescription refills, and much more. This way, you'll be able to reach your clients more easily than ever.
By using the variety of tools available, you can make conversations with clients more succinct while still answering all their questions. With no time to waste, turn to a range of communication methods—even texting for preventive care—to ensure your clients receive all the education needed to best care for their pets.