Most people you talk to these days can tell you just how busy they are. Between work and the kids and everything in between, we all seem to lead frantic, high-pressure lives in this modern society. This is just as true – and possibly even more so – in veterinary practices today.
We often hear from owners and veterinarians how their staff can struggle to manage day-to-day tasks, including administrative functions and front-of-office jobs, while also giving clients the attention they deserve. It’s understandable things may slip from time to time given the demands of the job, but if customer service is suffering it’s a symptom you can’t ignore.
Pet owners are busy, too, managing all their commitments and responsibilities, and everything else that may be going on in their lives. So, it’s no surprise that trying to schedule or reschedule an upcoming veterinary visit, while simple as it may seem, becomes just one more time-consuming task for them in an already long list of to-dos. Learning how to free up your staff time will help give clients more options to contact you and arrange appointments at times that best suit both them and you as the practice.
In addition, if you’re still relying on phone calls to schedule visits, or remind a client of an upcoming appointment, you could be damaging your customer experience and losing out on significant revenue from missed appointments. If so, it may be time to look into automated, two-way online scheduling.
Here’s two ways this simple modern technology can benefit your veterinary practice:
Free up staff time with automated scheduling and confirmation
While it may seem like a quick and easy task to schedule or remind a client about their upcoming appointment, it can turn out to be anything but. If you’re calling, you’ll likely be sent through to their voicemail. Then, despite having left a message, the odds you won’t hear back from your client are pretty high.
Multiply the time lost in this experience by the number of clients in your database and you’ll quickly see how inefficient this ‘old school’ method of communication can be. Wasted time and effort quickly adds up and can drain revenue for your practice. On top of this, the low success rate can make it a frustrating, demoralizing process for your staff making the calls.
A better and more efficient route would be to set up a system that allows your customers to schedule or reschedule their appointments at a time that suits them, through a channel that suits them. Not just during your business hours and by having to pick up the phone.
Two-way online scheduling does all the heavy lifting for you, including automating the process. It sends emails or texts that remind clients of upcoming appointments and offers quick and easy ways to reschedule if required.
This frees up countless hours for your staff to focus on clients on-site, rather than manning the phones or being glued to the computer sending and responding to individual emails.
Also, data shows that veterinary clinics with online booking have 50% of their appointments scheduled outside of regular business hours, and 17% of these came from new customers. So, in this way, you can be there wherever and whenever your clients are available.
Regain ‘lost’ appointments with an online booking system
Offering clients the convenience of booking online can also capture appointments that might otherwise be lost. Clients will no longer be frustrated when calling then sitting on hold to book an appointment and decide to go to your competitor. Nor will they have to commit to an appointment that may be months in the future and no longer convenient, leading to a ‘no show’. They’ll be able to schedule for the next available slot that fits both their schedule and yours.
Any inconvenience that a client encounters makes it less likely that they’ll schedule that important visit. With clients paying an average of $150 per visit, losing a client a day could cost your practice more than $100,000 in revenue per year.
Keep in mind too that 26% of appointments scheduled online are for same-day or next-day slots. If an appointment does free up at the last minute, and it is then updated in your RxWorks™ or VisionVPM™ practice management software’s schedule, you can keep your practice busy and profitable with a full appointment schedule.
While it may initially feel strange to allow clients to book appointments without having first spoken to you over the phone, providing them with the flexibility to schedule their next visit at a time that suits them makes a lot of sense. As well as freeing up your staff to focus on patients and clients currently in your practice, two-way online booking also provides extra convenience and a better overall experience, resulting in fewer lost appointments.