Five ways technology can help improve the client experience
Our industry has been talking at length about the importance of the client experience. For service-oriented businesses (and veterinary medicine is one of them!), the experience that customers have can lead to repeat visits and improved customer loyalty … or not.
Yet when was the last time you stopped to think about the experience you offer your clients? Have you recently looked at your practice through their eyes? Veterinary practices are busy places, so it’s understandable if the answer is no. Many practitioners feel like it’s all they can do to treat the number of patients who walk through the door each day – and that’s how they really prefer to spend their time anyway, rather than worrying about the business aspect of running a practice.
Did you know that technology can help you improve the experience of your clients, without draining your time and energy? Here are five simple ways to use technology to boost client experience.
Reach clients in the manner that they want to be reached
Client experience doesn’t start when clients walk through your doors. It starts with your reminder cards, practice marketing, and any other touch points that encourage clients to make an appointment. Are you sending the same type of communication to everyone, or are you reaching your clients in the manner in which they want to be reached?
Some clients will always prefer a postcard in the mail or a personal phone call from the clinic. But what about those who prefer email or text reminders? Automated services like Vetstreet and Rapport allow you to send email and text reminders to those who prefer these methods, with easy appointment confirmation methods. Clients simply click the link to request or confirm appointments.
Rapport’s online scheduling feature takes this one step further, allowing clients to schedule appointments online, right from their computer or mobile device. The appointment automatically appears in the AVImark and ImproMed appointment calendar, and an automatic confirmation is sent via email or text. Little conveniences like these go a long way in boosting compliance along with client experience.
Greet clients and patients by name
“Hi, Ms. Jones. How are you and Fluffy today?” This kind of personalized greeting communicates that your clients and patients are valuable to your practice and creates a welcoming feeling that starts the appointment off on the right foot. No matter how many clients you have, it’s impossible to recognize each client and patient as they walk through the door. That’s where your practice management software comes in.
Storing client and patient files electronically – with pictures – makes this possible. A quick click in the appointment calendar should allow staff members to see who’s coming in next and prepare to greet them by name. No photos stored in the client record or the patient medical record? Start an initiative to gather them. Some practices keep a tablet at the front desk that allows them to quickly snap a photo and upload it to the patient record.
Keep track of everything going on
Your doctor and staff time is valuable … but so is the time of your clients. No one likes to wait more than a few minutes in an empty exam room for the next doctor or staff member to come in, and no one wants to call in to check on the status of a pet after a procedure, only to be put on hold while a staff member hunts down the current location of the patient.
Workflow tools like the Whiteboard (in AVImark) and the Whiteboard and Clinic Census (in ImproMed) can help. These tools track the current status and condition of every patient in the clinic at any given time, from any monitor or workstation. This helps to monitor the amount of time that clients spend in exam rooms, minimizing client downtime, and it also prevents staff members from being caught off guard when fielding those “How is Fluffy doing?” phone calls. They simply pull up the workflow tool and provide the status update, giving the client a quick answer and peace of mind.
Avoid the checkout spiral
Your clients receive attractive reminders with convenient ways to schedule and confirm appointments. They’re greeted by name in a friendly way, and they’ve had a great experience during the appointment. The last thing you want to do is send them back to the front desk, where they may have to wait in line, or worse yet, get sticker shock when they receive the invoice. Their questions and concerns may send a negative message to other clients in the waiting room, and they’ve put your front desk staff members in an awkward position.
Why not allow clients to check out in the exam room, right when they finish their appointment? Adding a laptop or even a tablet in each exam room enables clients to view the invoice electronically and ask questions if anything is unclear. Receipts and follow-up educational materials can be emailed to clients for later reference or printed at the front desk on the way out. Clients can also pay with a credit or debit card, right in the exam room. (Check with your software provider for the best way to set up these capabilities with your particular software platform.)
Give your clients something to brag about
Remember those photos you’ve been taking of each patient, storing them in the electronic patient record? They will really come in handy with this last tip. Use them to create a personalized Pet ID card for each of your clients.
Pet ID cards are small plastic cards, about the size of a driver’s license, that contain a pet photo, contact information for the practice, vaccination and service due dates, and other helpful information. They’re great tools for reminding patients of upcoming services due and keeping your practice top-of-mind, and they also promote referrals from happy clients who had a great experience in your clinic.
These are just a few examples of how technology can help boost the client experience, the first step toward long-term customer loyalty. Veterinary medicine is truly a service business. Check with your software provider to see what other ways you can use technology to improve the client experience.