I recently got back from NAVC and the experience was a bit overwhelming. Endless rows of vendors telling veterinarians all the latest and greatest things they should be doing to grow their practice. Apps. Texting. Telemedicine. Loyalty programs. The list goes on and on. This experience reminded me of watching a high school football team try and win by using fancy, complicated plays when they didn't have the basics down. Are we making the same mistake in veterinary medicine? Have we forgotten the fundamentals like blocking and tackling?
I've long believed that the problems with veterinary practice management software is what I call "Frankenstein syndrome": they keep patching on more and more features in an attempt to make the software better, but all they end up doing is confusing you. All this leads to a bad user experience, and is a main reason why I've never met anyone who loves the practice management software. Do you? Didn't think so.
1. Small changes to monthly reminders could have a big impact
What if I were to tell you that changing the wording or the tempo of reminders could make a huge difference on their effectiveness? With minor tweaks to these variables, it's possible to triple their effectiveness. Here's what you need to monitor in order to decide what needs to be changed:
- Whether it's text, push or email, the first metric you need to pay attention to is open rate. In other words, if you sent out 100 email reminders last month, how many were opened? Most reminder platforms don't tell you this, which is borderline malpractice, but in order for an email reminder to have the desired effect (an appointment) it first has to be opened. Obvious, right?
- The next metric you need to monitor is “click through rate,” or CTR. In other words, of all the emails that were opened, how many took an action step? In this case let's call it request an appointment. By tapping into the power of our marketing analytics combined with your existing database, we can dramatically increase the number of appointments you get through a combination of better wordsmithing and good old-fashioned data analytics.
2. Pet parents live in a digital world with digital purchasing habits. Is your practice offering digital transactions?
Why is Amazon so popular? Certainly low prices are part of it, but I believe their success is testimony to a changing consumer landscape. We live in an on-demand society that is moving away from the telephone. How many of you would rather text or email than talk to someone on the phone? Why do you think it's any different for your clients? Whether scheduling an appointment or requesting a refill, moving these transactions digitally not only makes the pet parent experience better but also makes life easier for your team. Imagine if you got 30% more appointments and refill requests and only half the number of phone calls? What if your front desk team could also completely stop faxing and emailing records? Removing those two massive resource drains would give them 50% of their time back to provide the kind of in-hospital experience many practices talk about but a few actually deliver. Concierge level service. Ensuring nobody gets stuck in the waiting room for more than five minutes.
3. You don't always need the latest and greatest, but if you do, make sure it's valuable
It’s tempting to chase after the new, shiny object thinking that it’s going to fill in those empty appointment slots or drive more dentals/surgeries. Part of this is human nature: when our businesses aren’t as busy as we’d like, we’re predisposed to think that it’s because we don’t have X or we don’t offer Y. But every veterinary practice in the U.S. is already sitting on a gold mine of data that they don’t know how to use. Therefore, if you do decide you need to work with the new, shiny object, be sure it not only adds value to your practice, but also advances your ability to understand and utilize the data that your practice is sitting on.
All reminders are not created equal and the difference between an ineffective reminder campaign and a highly effective campaign could dramatically increase practice revenue. Additionally, adapting your practice to evolving consumer expectations is not an option: it’s a requirement to remain competitive in the 21st century.