As we approach the year 2020, being simply “customer focused” is no longer going to be enough to meet customer expectations. According to a report by Walker, a customer experience consulting firm, we need to shift from being “customer focused” to “customer committed.”
As veterinarians, we are of course committed to the pets we care for, no question. But how committed are we to their pet parents? Do we understand their needs? We may be a veritable cat whisperer, but how well do we communicate with the pet parents who care for those felines? Do we understand their language?
Being committed to our customers means that we continually search for better ways to reach our clients and we can always improve our communication skills. One way to do that is by understanding the most common complaints of pet owners. Pet parents complain that they don’t get regular appointment reminders or that they get too many reminders all at once. This points to a problem that vet practices have: reminders and appointments get backed up, and you end up with too many appointments on the same day of the week or even too many in the same month.
Let’s talk about these communication problems and how fetch. can help.
Pet Parent Complaint #1: “I don’t get reminders at all!”
We know what you’re thinking: “My pet parents definitely do get reminders. We send them like clockwork!” We’re sure you do, but here’s the principle to keep in mind: it’s not what you send out but what the pet parent receives that matters. All patients should receive appointment reminders, not just have reminders sent to them. See the difference? We vets need to tailor the medium of our reminders so pet parents actually see the reminders, open them, and respond to them.
A major reason pet parents may not be receiving reminders is that they’re not being sent via the best media. In fact, most reminders are still being sent in the most outdated way possible–by direct-mail postcard. Ask yourself: when was the last time I actually acted in response to a direct-mail postcard? Exactly, never.
fetch. solves this problem by capitalizing on the latest technology and studies. fetch. uses automated reminders that are easy to set up and maintain, making a solution that cost pennies as opposed to the dollars that postcards cost.
Another fetch. solution is to use automated phone calls and text messages. Charlotte Bohnett at WebPT writes, “There are countless case studies showing how phone and text message reminders save thousands of labor hours, increase revenue dramatically, and decrease patient no-shows—all in addition to saving you time and guaranteeing the reminders actually get made.” fetch. delivers these benefits and more so that pets are cared for, pet parents are happy, and your practice does well.
Pet Parent Complaint #2: “I already receive too many emails. Appointment reminders get lost in the heap.”
Have you ever felt extremely stressed out when you got several emails or texts while you were trying to focus on something else? You’re not alone. According to Gloria Mark, professor of informatics at the University of California at Irvine, just 20 minutes of interruptions is enough to lead to “higher stress, frustration, workload, effort and pressure.” And according to Dr. Daniel Levitin, “constantly checking emails, texts, and Facebook constitutes a neural addiction. Switching tasks literally uses up energy and nutrient stores in the brain leaving you feel exhausted and disoriented.” No wonder that the top reason consumers opt out of emails is that they “receive emails too often.”
The last thing we want is for our pet parents to feel “exhausted and disoriented”—and we certainly don’t want them to unsubscribe from our emails!
The second most common reason people unsubscribe from emails may shed some light on how we fix the problem: people unsubscribe if they find the emails irrelevant.
“Call me crazy,” says Kenny Silva, an author at B2C, “but that makes me wonder. Would the person who cited frequency as their top reason have been so quick to unsubscribe if they found real value in the emails they received?”
fetch. is the answer to both these reasons people unsubscribe from emails. After researching hundreds of practices and thousands of interactions, we’ve found what email frequencies work, and we know how to keep the reminders relevant so your pet parents recognize how important they are. fetch. helps you create an easy relationship with pet parents, making it easy for them to keep appointments and interact with reminders, no matter how busy their lifestyle.
Top Vet Practice Complaint: “Our reminders and appointments get backed up, and we end up with too many appointments all at once.”
We’ve talked about pet parent complaints, but we know vets have some gripes, too. Could we solve the appointment backup problem with fetch.?
Unfortunately, the causes of appointment backup are not always in a vet’s control.
“We do our best to schedule responsibly (although sometimes there are managers and administrators who have more of a say in this than we do),” says Laura Smith, DVM. “But as Robert Burns said, ‘even the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.’ Nowhere is this more true than in medicine.”
The ebb and flow of vet appointments is really more like a drought and flood most of the time. Vets are slammed with appointments first thing Monday morning for pets who got sick over the weekend. Then Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are often slow. Then on Friday, vets are again slammed with pets whose pet parents who prefer to take Fridays off so they don’t interrupt the flow of their work week.
That’s not even to mention summer and holidays, when pet are out and about on vacation and may need vet attention. Tick and flea season, when, well, vets are bombarded with pets who are bombarded with ticks and fleas.
Vets really want to see their pets! Vets are compassionate by nature; we can’t stand the thought of turning a needy pet away. Whether there are emergencies or last-minute things to take care of, it’s hard to say no, despite an overfilled appointment schedule.
Here’s where fetch. comes in. fetch. optimizes workflow and patient flow throughout the week and the year. We can help you send out well-timed reminders so that your schedule stays optimally full and never too full for those last-minute appointments. Our scheduling technology minimizes wait times in the waiting room, minimizes stress on the staff, and utilizes staff in the most efficient and healthy way possible.
fetch. isn’t just a technology—it’s a comprehensive solution that allows vets to put pets and pet parents first as they go about their responsibilities. Whether the complaint is that pet parents are receiving too few or not enough reminders, fetch. gives vets the tools to be not just customer focused but customer committed as well.