Choosing Effective Client Communication Software to Bridge the Gap
What is Veterinary Communication?
Communication between health professionals and their clients is an essential part of running a healthcare practice. In the veterinary industry, pet owners are often not present for exams or in-depth appointments like surgery or spay/neuter procedures. This creates a unique challenge for veterinary professionals and the communication between pet owners, staff, and veterinarians.
One study performed by the AVA was aimed at pinpointing the communication gaps between pet owners and veterinary professionals.¹ The study asked dog and cat owners if they believed an important assessment that gives preventative care would be performed at their pet’s next appointment. Surprisingly, less than half of dog owners and one-third of cat owners believed this important assessment had been performed.
This study shows that many pet owners don’t have a clear understanding of what procedures and assessments will take place during the appointment. This communication gap can create misunderstanding when owners pick up their pets and are billed for the appointment.
There are also other areas where effective communication skills would help strengthen this relationship such as scheduling and appointment reminders. Clear communication and productive relationships with clients are key to your success as a veterinary professional.
Modes of Communication within a Veterinary Practice
Communication within a veterinary practice is unique and should be handled with care. Typically pet owners can book an appointment online or call the practice and schedule with a front-desk veterinary team member. From there, clients bring in their animals during the allotted time slot and check in with reception.
The pet and its owner are taken back into an exam room where a veterinary technician will handle basic assessments before the doctor is brought in. The veterinarian will come in and handle diagnosis, procedures, and major evaluations.
The process is similar for more in-depth appointments like surgery, spay/neuter, or euthanasia however the visit will generally be longer and pet owners may drop the pet off and pick them up afterward. To strengthen relationships with pet owners, it’s critical to determine all of the modes of communication with clients and where they can be improved.
What Communication Skills are Needed for Veterinarians?
Veterinarians are not only in the business of caring for animals but they are also responsible for helping clients with their pet care concerns, leading their veterinary team, and speaking with suppliers. Veterinarians need to possess effective communication skills such as:
Empathy is the ability to see a situation from the perspective of another person. This is a critical skill to possess and will help you put yourself in another person’s shoes whether it be a client or a staff member. This skill will also help you get a better understanding of a person’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and values. Being empathetic will also lead to repeat business, as pet owners want to continue doing business with veterinary professionals who care about their pets.
Keep your diagnosis and explanations clear and straightforward. This will give clients a transparent picture of the situation and help them understand what they need to do for their pet going forward. This will also help clients to know if they need to follow up and schedule another appointment.
Listening is an essential skill to have as a veterinarian, not only for the clients you serve but for your staff. The difference between active listening and listening comes in hearing more than words. Active listening is not only paying attention to what is being said but also to what emotions and feelings aren’t being said. Consider asking more open-ended questions or rephrasing what you just heard to avoid funneling answers and approaching the conversation with better active listening skills.
Always be aware of the non-verbal body language you convey when working with animals as they are very sensitive to our movements and temperament. Sudden movements or losing your temper could escalate a situation and stress out a furry patient. Even when you’re interacting with your team members, remember to pay attention to your body language so you don’t pass anxiety onto your team and the mood in the office can stay positive.
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The Communication Breakdown in a Veterinary Practice
Among dog-owning households that visited veterinarians, roughly 90% had a “regular veterinarian”; among cat owners,² this figure was 89%.³ Because pet owners typically want to have a consistent veterinarian, their opinion of your practice is critical. The experience they have will determine if they become regular customers and it will directly affect the growth of your business.
From the moment a pet owner browses your website or makes a phone call to your practice, they are forming an opinion about your business. Whether positive, negative, or neutral, their opinion will shape the type of appointments they book, how often they schedule and if they will spread positive word of mouth about your business.
As veterinary professionals, it’s important to know what your practice can bring to the table and what pet owners value when choosing vet care because it isn’t always the same answer. For some, convenience and cost are the most important, while others value the quality of care above everything else. Regardless of why pet owners seek out specific animal care, veterinary professionals need to have the tools to deliver impressive experiences so they want to return.
How to Improve Veterinary Client Communication
Scheduling with clients is one area where many veterinarian clinics need digital tools. Some veterinarian practices opt for manually scheduling patients to fill up the day. While many front-desk employees can handle most of the daily scheduling, opting for digital tools will not only smooth out the process but will take some pressure off of reception to answer every phone call.
When clients check in for the appointment, it’s important to make this process as quick as possible. Using tools like digital forms, allows your clients to fill out the necessary appointment information before they even walk in the door saving time for you and your clients.
Most pet owners want to return to the same animal clinic because building a comprehensive history with the same doctor will provide more effective care. This is even more critical for a veterinarian practice smaller in size that depends on repeat business and loyal customers.
Benefits of Veterinary Communication Software
The benefits of investing in veterinary communication software are multi-faceted but center on automating processes that help your business to grow and strengthen relationships with your clients. Weave is a patient engagement system designed for small veterinarian practices and the unique challenges they face. Choosing effective software like Weave which is designed for small veterinarian practices will reap many benefits that smooth out communication gaps and create a better client experience.
Some of the most attractive benefits of choosing veterinary communication software include:
- Automated Tasks
- Client Retention
- Review Generation
- Client Analytics
- Digital Phone System
- Simplified Collaboration
- Marketing Opportunities
These tools are designed to help you run your clinic more effectively to grow your business. Investing in veterinary communication software is also critical when it comes to training your team.
The cost of pet care is also a factor when owners are deciding where to turn. With tools like Payments, your clients can have the flexibility to pay how they want with options like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Text-to-Pay, and more. This creates cost transparency with clients so they can feel comfortable and your practice can get paid faster. These systems need to be in place when choosing veterinary communication software so your clients can pay their bills on the go, whether they’re in town or not.
Veterinary Team Communication
Communication with your veterinary team is essential to stay on the same page and give your patients the care they need. This is especially true when patients cannot communicate and need a unified team to help them receive the care they need. With features like Weave Team, new staff members can keep their communication in one central spot whenever they need help or have questions.
Veterinary Communication Training
Training is an important part of veterinary communication and improves the interactions your team has with clients. Integrating with software that makes training easy will smooth out this process and strengthen your team. Tools like Phones and Call Pop give new team members essential client information from the moment they call in. These tools enable team members to provide better service and learn more about the clients they serve.
Veterinary Communication Articles + Bonus Vet-Related Topics
- Paying for Pet Care
- Veterinary Client Education
- Multi-Location Veterinarian Practices
- Veterinary Fluid Therapy Charts & Resources
Your success as a veterinary professional hinges on the relationship you build with your clients. Investing in digital tools gives your practice efficient operations that improve the client experience and help your teams collaborate in one central location.
If you’re looking for powerful veterinary communication software, we recommend checking out Weave and seeing what it can do for your practice. To get a free demo of Weave and see it for yourself, click here.