An increase in pet ownership during 2020 has led to a rise in the volume of needed veterinary care, resulting in frustrated pet owners and vet staff. Working at an animal hospital comes with challenges, especially since your patients can’t tell you what’s wrong or how they feel. You have to rely on a pet owner’s explanation, and that involves communication.
In the 2021-2022 American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey, 69 million American households own dogs and over 40 million own cats. This results in approximately one-third of the national population having either or both in their homes.
Unfortunately, your patients cannot tell you what is wrong or how they feel. Overcoming this central challenge of working at an animal hospital relies on a pet owner’s explanation. Communication must be at the forefront to facilitate the best treatment possible.
In Comes Two-Way Texting: A Veterinarian’s Most Effective Communication Tool
Most Americans own a mobile device and use it regularly. Whether browsing the internet, interacting on social media, or speaking with others, these devices are constantly nearby and actively engaged with.
Using two-way texting, you can reach pet owners through a device that they are comfortable with using. Allowing someone to simply text a response to your message at their convenience creates a more efficient and effective environment for quality discussions regarding their pet’s health.
When using two-way texting, this generates multiple benefits for your office, but there are three particular perks that stand out above the rest.
Three reasons to use two-way texting:
Besides treating and caring for animals, the goal of a vet office is to make the business run smoothly, and one of the ways to do that is by adding two-way texting between vet staff and pet owners. It can help the logistics for your front office staff while also helping improve the experience for your clients. Below are three reasons to engage your pet owners using two-way texting.
- Improve efficiency and save staff time
A phone call requires both your undivided attention and the pet owner’s. While undivided attention is needed for specific tasks like resolving a complaint or explaining pet treatment plans to clients, simple tasks don’t require intense focus.
While your staff waits for information – like prescriptions and coordinating time that works with their schedule, they can quickly handle another easy task, like replying to a simple query from another pet owner. Using a two-way texting software, communication can be facilitated completely from a device that your staff members normally work on, which allows for greater ownership over the data and does not require employees to use their own devices.
Implementing two-way texting between staff and pet parents allows your team to spend less time on the phone and checking in pets in the lobby. Texting ensures that your front desk staff achieves their peak productivity and completes a significantly greater number of important tasks.
With two-way texting, vet staff can also send clients digital registration and consent forms to complete, which cuts down on errors and time spent with each client as they bring their pet in. As an added bonus, this enables the client to spend more time thoughtfully going through their check-in process and provide your office with more thorough information for your veterinary staff to work off of during the appointment.
To provide a real-world example, a 24/7 Veterinary ER in Grand Rapids, MI, implemented ER Express’s Mobile Check-in, reduced their call volume by five phone calls per client, and improved communication by allowing staff to share more frequent updates with clients and avoid “phone tag.” Instead, a steady stream of messages between the office and their clients was established throughout the entire pre-visit process.
- Meet clients expectations/ improve the experience
With an increased number of pet owners over the past few years, animal hospitals have become overbooked and overcrowded. How veterinary clinics communicate with clients during these times impacts both patient care and client satisfaction.
In scenarios where your office’s capacity and bandwidth are stressed, setting accurate expectations with clients benefits everyone. Your staff can quickly respond to inquiries while your clients have a clearer picture of the current activity level at your office.
As an example, two-way texting between vet staff and clients enables staff to relay realistic wait times and status updates for their pets. Say the clinic is full and won’t be able to treat a dog for another three hours; staff members can inform pet owners via text, so they can wait at home until a staff member says they are ready to give care or, alternately, that treatment has been provided and they can come to pick up their pet.
This level of communication enhances your office’s ability to best serve your clients and their pets by allowing them to more accurately plan their days around treatment times. Two-way texting can prove especially beneficial for pet owners that work during the day and follow a tight schedule.
Beyond convenience, texting can also aid in alleviating worries that a pet owner might have when their pet is being seen without them present. It’s understandable that they are naturally concerned about their pet’s wellbeing and want to receive updates.
In a 2019 Frontiers in Veterinary Science Study, most clients expect updates regarding their pets’ treatment status, with 27% preferring to be updated every two to three hours and 35% every four to six hours. Instead of calling the clinic, clients can quickly receive updates on their pet’s triage status, subsequent wait time, health status, and even treatment plans via text. This helps to ease clients’ worries, stay connected and improve their overall experience.
- Communicate with clients reliably and fast
According to Pew Research Center, around 97% of Americans own a cell phone of some kind, making texting an effective communication option. Texting offers clients a faster, more convenient way to communicate with vet staff. It only takes a few seconds to send a text, eliminating the hassle of calling the office (and waiting on hold if busy) to try and figure out a time to bring your pet in.
Similarly, if you have last-minute updates—if the Vet is running late or had an emergency come in, for example—text messaging may be the best way to notify your client. And, with one-to-one text messaging, clients can respond in real-time to confirm receipt of your message or ask questions.
Adding texting features to your practice also enables you to more efficiently manage your schedule through communication. A client could confirm their appointment, reschedule, or cancel their visit through a simple text message so that your staff can quickly remove this booked time slot from your calendar so that it can be taken by another.
Get two-way texting for your veterinary practice with ER Express
Veterinary practices can significantly improve their operations by embracing two-way texting as a communication channel for client engagement. ER Express Mobile Vet Check-in allows vet staff and pet owners to communicate via two-way texting. Mobile Check-in provides efficient communication while minimizing staff tasks and setting expectations for clients. At check-in or after triage, and with just one click, staff can send messages to clients with estimated wait times for their pet, so they know how long the wait will be. Additionally, if your clinic is trying to minimize having pet owners in the lobby, two-way texting supports virtual waiting, curbside check-in, and queuing processes.
Click HERE to check out one of our customer success stories where a Vet ER utilized Mobile check-in to reduce call volume, speed up throughput times and improve client satisfaction.