With more choices available to pet owners, the right communications plan can mean the difference between retaining loyal clients or losing them to another practice. How? By making the life of your clients easier.
Effective client communications help save pet owners time and trouble. By showing clients they can rely on your practice for appointment reminders and other health communications, you strengthen your relationship with them. This, in turn, builds client loyalty and generates repeat business.
If you’re looking to implement a new client communication plan – or improve your current one – here are five key steps to get you started:
What’s your reason for communicating?
First, it’s important to identify the reason you’re getting in touch with your client. Is it to remind them their pet is due for their next appointment? To update them with important information from your practice? Or surprise and delight them with an unexpected communication, like a happy birthday card for their pet?
Understanding why you’re communicating helps set the base for all your other communication decisions.
Who are you communicating with and when?
Once you’ve determined what messages you’ll be sending, it’s important to identify who you’ll be sending the communications to, and when. Sending every available message to every client may lead to disengagement; you may be sending irrelevant information or communicating too often.
You have a wealth of client data in your practice management software, so use it to segment your database and send relevant, personalized messages. Also, allow your clients to update their preferences related to information type and contact frequency. This is where an online communication portal saves staff time and offers great client convenience.
What are your channels of communication?
After you determine what messages to send and who you’re sending them to, you’ll decide which communication channels to use. While the phone is the traditional channel of choice, email, text and postcard messaging are very effective in reaching clients. Text messaging has an especially high read and response rate, as many people have access to smartphones nowadays. Almost 80% of adults keep their phones with them for 22 hours per day.
What is the right technology?
The next step in your total communications plan is to ensure you have the right technology to execute. A dedicated software tool, like Rapport®, makes it incredibly easy to set up multi-channel communication plans, including automating the process.
Having a solution that integrates seamlessly with you practice management software is also an important consideration. This means your client and patient data can be easily copied from one piece of software to the other, triggering the right communication at the right time.
How will you test and learn?
It’s important with a total communications plan to always review what’s working and how it can be improved. If you’re finding that a certain channel or message isn’t getting the results you’d like, consider other options. This gives you the opportunity to try a new channel or message, or refine the ones with better engagement.
The right communications plan lets you engage with your clients at the right time, with the right message, in the medium they prefer. So, when setting up your plan, or improving it, this should remain top-of-mind.
Setting up a multi-channel approach allows your clients to engage with their favorite channel and allows you to track their behavior and adjust your plan accordingly. This leads to satisfied, more engaged clients and healthier pets.