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dvm360® recently spoke to 3 veteran veterinarians to highlight common problems that practices with sub-par communication systems encounter, while also highlighting how AllyDVM has become a win-win for their businesses.
The dilemma: Close the communication gap between veterinarians and their customers.
A 2018 study by Partners for Healthy Pets – a collaboration led by the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association – showed significant discrepancies between the views of pet owners and veterinarians, particularly with regard to the events and discoveries during a physical exam for their pets, including pain assessments and dental exams. 2
Customers don’t always take in the relevant information passed on during an appointment, or they don’t remember properly the recommended next steps.
The solution: Improving staff-customer communication within the exam room is important, but a follow-up tool to review the services provided and veterinary recommendations could have a huge impact on the customer’s understanding and compliance. For veterinary professionals who have struggled with this for years, it’s easy to see why AllyDVM’s direct messaging feature is fast becoming one of the most popular components of the suite. In addition to sending appointment reminders – which happens seamlessly – it offers another communication channel between the customer and the practice.
“More and more, our customers want instant communication and quick provision of information. This is very easy with AllyDVM. A customer can send us an inquiry and we can get back to them right away, ”said Patti Christie, CVT, CVPM, Practice Manager at Minnehaha Animal Hospital and Pet Doctors Animal Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Customers also really appreciate the fact that they can contact us without having to make a phone call.”
William Armbruster, DVM, who owns three veterinary clinics in central Illinois – Greenhaven Animal Clinic, Prairiehaven Animal Hospital, and Best Friends Animal Hospital – says he can’t place enough emphasis on strong practice-customer communication. “It’s so critical today. It’s not just the younger generations who use the feature; Everyone likes to write SMS. ”
The customer service agents and technicians at his hospitals regularly use the direct message / SMS feature to follow up customers after a visit. “Our customers love the fact that we can check in with them relatively quickly and easily,” he adds. “It helps with customer communication and retention as well as customer loyalty to the clinic.”
The dilemma: Practices lose a large amount of potential revenue when customer adherence and retention is no longer maintained.
Pet parents are notorious for missing out on recommended vaccine, yearbook, and other health service schedules. This is harmful to the patient’s health and could prevent the early detection of treatable diseases.
The solution: There are steps practices can be implemented to increase customer compliance with routine spa visits and vaccinations. These, in turn, have an obvious impact on the bottom line. AllyDVM’s loyalty calendar makes it easy for hospitals to notify customers when their pet is due for a spa visit and encourages multi-pet homes to schedule all of their exams at the same time.
“The retention calendar was huge [selling point] for us because it is so helpful to show us the other pets in the household that are waiting for the exam. I don’t know how many times our customers got mad at us for not telling them their other pets should be seen, ”said Kerry Lueker, CVT, hospital manager at Crest Hill Cat and Dog Clinic in Joliet. Illinois.
Dr. Armbruster uses the retention calendar to post all appointments. “If you are due to have a routine wellness examination, we will make an appointment for your exam for 6 months immediately before you leave. Or if the patient is sick, you will be booked out for one or two weeks, depending on the doctor’s recommendation. “
Once an appointment is scheduled, the reminder system can be programmed to send out automatic reminders. This has helped reduce the number of no-shows and last-minute cancellations. “For reasons of convenience, you will receive a reminder text that your appointment is due. It’s nice that the feature is customizable too. We can set whether the reminder text is sent 2, 3 or 4 days in advance to let the customer know that he has an outstanding appointment, ”says Dr. Crossbow.
The dilemma: General email communications are left unread; valuable information never reaches customers.
Veterinary customers are savvy. You can tell when a comprehensive e-mail campaign lands in your inbox and can generally use the subject line to determine whether the topic is interesting. It is imperative that hospitals stand out from the dozen of emails people receive every day. It is counterproductive to email an entire database about seniors’ blood tests if it only applies to a small portion of the clientele. Likewise, households with only cats are not interested in discounts on heartworm preventive agents for dogs.
The solution: Make your communication important. Every message should be valuable to the intended recipient. AllyDVM has proven to be one of the leading providers of filter functions. Users can automatically target the right customer segment – by type, method, age, illness, etc. – at the right time.
“For example, we can get specific information about older pets,” explains Christie. “In this way we can address the patient individually and use the opportunity to provide information and give him a reason to make an appointment for his animal.”
The dilemma: Incorrect or invalid customer contact information leads to otherwise avoidable misunderstandings.
For Lueker, one of the biggest challenges their hospital faced was when customers did not receive intended calls and reminders. Previous communication software failed to achieve its goal of alerting you to errors within the system. “We had no way of following that before. Our old software would tell us that 10 emails were not sent, but not which specific customers. “
The solution: AllyDVM is designed to highlight missing information or possible contact errors. “It shows me whether someone has added ‘Yahoo’ with an additional ‘o’ or has misspelled something,” explains Lueker. Fixing these errors is easy and has a profound effect on getting the intended messages through.
“One of the really nice things about the feature is that it also tells you how much sales you might be missing out on if you don’t get the right information like the correct email or phone number,” Christie adds. Similarly, AllyDVM has tools to reflect the income generated by using the retention calendar features.
The dilemma: Box shops and commercialized websites distract customers from special online shops and pharmacies operated by hospitals. Practices may feel they do not have the resources to compete with retailers.
The solution: Recently, AllyDVM launched its widely acclaimed Manufacturer Affiliate Program to complement the communications services that the practices have now relied on. The Synergy Affiliate Program is a turnkey marketing toolkit that includes simple, automated email campaigns. The email capabilities also include money-saving offers from some of our leading manufacturing partners in the industry aimed at getting pet owners to buy products.
Lueker found the program particularly helpful in getting customers to respond to heartworm drug offers. Customers called after receiving the email and the staff provided more information about the product and how it could benefit their pets. “We made quite a lot of sales just because we got them to commit to ProHeart®,” she explains.
Her practice had a similar experience after emailing the Synergy Affiliate Program regarding Simparica Trio®. “A lot of people have been waiting for it to come out because it’s an all-in-1. As soon as they got the email, they called us to find out what to do next to get their pet to get the email. “
The dilemma: Customers crave ease and instant satisfaction. The standard routine of calling a clinic, putting it on hold, and then trying to sync schedules based on availability does not meet these criteria.
The solution: AllyDVM’s live booking calendar can easily be added to a hospital’s website or patient portal, the latter being synchronized directly with a hospital’s practice management system.
“Our customers love it,” says Lueker. “You can access pet health records, make appointments, request replenishments, and view loyalty points. There are also hot buttons that direct them to our online pharmacy, website, Facebook, etc. ”In addition, it gives customers control over finding an appointment that best fits their schedule
“With AllyDVM, it shows customers the actual days and times available,” she adds. “Our old software didn’t show that people therefore ask for appointments for the next day and then get upset about us that we couldn’t accommodate them.”
The calendar also shows availability based on the type of appointment. “Our sick appointments are, for example, longer visits,” explains Lüker. “So if you request a sick appointment, but we only have a 20-minute slot compared to a 40-minute slot, you won’t even see that slot. It will only show them the 40 minutes. “
The bottom line: When it comes to finding a client communication service, don’t be fooled. Your practice’s reputation and revenues are at stake.
“AllyDVM is one of the most important tools we have in our toolbox, honestly,” Christie explains. “It’s been designed really well by people who certainly understand the industry and the needs we have.”
COLLABORATE TO HELP YOUR PRACTICE SUCCESS Take advantage of all of MWI’s offerings and programs to improve compliance, increase sales, and support pet health and happiness. www.mwiah.com/compliance/dvm360
- Allied market research. Veterinary Software Market Statistics, Growth Analysis and Forecast – 2027. Allied Market Research, 2019. www.alliedmarketresearch.com/ veterinary-software-market #:% 7E: text = The% 20global% 20 veterinary% 20software% 20market, 6.1% 25% 20of % 20 2020% 20 to% 202027. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
- 2. An American Animal Hospital Association-American Veterinary Medical Association white paper. The casual pet owners don’t always hear what we tell them (and how to fix it). Partner for healthy pets. 2018. Accwww.aaha.org/globalassets/04-practiceresources/The-Opportunity. Accessed May 14, 2021.