7 ways to improve client engagement
Technology and automation can help a veterinary practice communicate better with pet owners and deliver a top-notch in-clinic experience.
Have you ever visited a business and thought, “Wow, what a great experience!”? If so, were you inclined to tell people about this business, maybe even write a review? How does your veterinary practice compare? Do pet owners leave your practice thrilled by the experience? Do you keep in touch with them when they’re not in the office? Or could you take steps to improve their experience both within and outside your practice walls? Often, an improved client experience leads to a more positive work environment and better staff morale, not to mention more appointments and increased revenue.
So, how can you improve the client experience at your practice? One word: technology. Here are seven modern ways to boost client engagement, improve the client experience and help the practice staff, too.
1. Social Media
Seventy-six percent of Facebook users and 51 percent of Instagram users access the sites daily, according to Wordstream. Are you effectively communicating with your clients on these social platforms? You should be responding to clients’ comments and creating a social media “personality” for your practice.
If you use social media, is the content thumb-stopping? To truly engage pet owners, be sure to mix a variety of educational information with the latest pet health news and adorable pictures. Make social media management the job of everyone in the practice, not just one person. This will help ensure that you’re providing as much value and capturing as much information as possible.
2. Online Scheduling and Automated Confirmations
Relying on manual methods to reach out to customers and schedule and confirm appointments is not only inconvenient for your staff, but most clients no longer respond to these old-school methods. With an average client spend of $140 per visit, losing just one appointment a day can cost you over $100,000 in revenue per year.
Try online scheduling. Twenty-six percent of appointments scheduled online are for the same-day or next-day slots, according to PatientPop. Enable automated appointment confirmations to be sent via email, text message or phone. Being able to reach you at their convenience will make clients happy and take some of the administrative burden off your staff.
3. Software Updates
Are you using the latest version of your practice management software? Software that operates seamlessly affects the customer experience. There’s nothing worse than having clients stand at the front desk while your client care representative apologizes for the system crash and has to restart. This looks unprofessional and leaves a bad impression with clients. Updates also reduce the stress of change on staff, creating a more positive work environment and better client experience.
4. Credit Card Processing
How long does checkout take after an appointment? Lengthy transactions can start a series of delays that ripple across the office. Integrating your payment processor with your veterinary practice software can save three to five minutes per transaction at checkout, while reducing errors and time spent on redundant data entry and credit card verification. This saved time can be used to talk with clients about additional products, forward-book appointments or chat with clients in the waiting room about another pet they own but you haven’t seen in some time.
5. Reputation Management
What do current and potential clients see when they look at your business online? The online community Social Media Today reported that 70 percent of consumers consult reviews or ratings before making a purchase. You and your staff work tirelessly to provide the best client and patient experience, but do your online reviews reflect that? As you talk with your clients and receive positive feedback, ask them for a review. Seven out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if asked, a 2016 BrightLocal survey found. Start by sending a thank you email after appointments; you can even have client care representatives let clients know during checkout that an email is coming. Your client communication software should provide the option to automate these emails and include a survey.
Be sure to review survey results and follow up with clients. Respond to all reviews, good and bad. Let clients know that you hear them and appreciate their feedback.
6. Wellness Plans
Wellness plans encourage regular visits to your office. Banfield Pet Hospital found that pet owners who participate in wellness plans tend to visit twice as often as those who don’t. Clients will feel more inclined to visit if they know they won’t experience sticker shock at checkout. When clients come in you can promote specials tailored for them, such as a certain percentage off retail products. Talk about wellness plans during staff meetings so each staff member can see the value and talk up the plans during client visits.
7. Customized Communications
Are you communicating with clients about how they want to be communicated with? Reminder compliance is key to client engagement and your practice’s success. Your communication plan should be fully automated and include postal, email and text reminders in addition to phone calls. Clients can customize their reminder preferences through a communication portal that ties to your software and reminder settings.
Kaitlin Brady, marketing manager for Henry Schein Veterinary Solutions, oversees social media and viral marketing in support of the company’s software and client communications solutions.