What are veterinary clients thinking? Speakers may tell you, but Brian Conrad, CVPM has a new approach: letting a panel of pet owners give feedback in real time.
You may have heard the latest news that CVC is now Fetch, a dvm360 conference.
Part and parcel of that change means offering the same great CE we always have, but also delivering something new. Some of these efforts are not session related (see: the chance to cuddle adoptable dogs and take unlimited selfies), but many are. By shaking up the traditional session format and making learning interactive, attendees can get involved and get something new out of their conference experience.
One of those new approaches is the brainchild of Brian Conrad, CVPM: “Ask the pet owner: A LIVE panel and learning session.” Conrad brings in a panel of local pet owners and talks to them during the sessions. Attendees have the chance to text him questions as he talks to the panel and get their questions answered.
Conrad debuted the approach at CVC Virginia Beach in May, but with a new group and new opinions, the Kansas City panel revealed some new information for veterinarians and team members to walk away with.
1. Clients want to feel like they're making choices
All the pet owners in the panel said they trusted their veterinarian to give them good recommendations, but that was because they felt like their veterinarians were honest and invited dialogue. If recommendations came from an honest place and involved the pet owner in the decision-making process, they were more likely to accept those medical recommendations. The word “choice” came up over and over again. Pet owners wanted to choose to give vaccinations and choose to do procedures, even if those choices were heavily influenced by the veterinarian's recommendations.
2. Nutrition isn't coming up in exam room visits
When asked if they'd discussed nutrition with their veterinarians, most of the pet owners more or less gave a shrug. They remembered getting recommendations for food brands, but not really discussions about nutrition. This panel was particularly loyal-most of them had been going to the same practice for more than a decade, and none of them bought their pets' medication online. Despite this, not a single one of them purchased food through their veterinarian. They went to either the grocery store or PetSmart to evaluate what food to buy. A couple of them said they just looked for the "healthiest ingredients."
Education on eats
The veterinarian can be the best resource on pet nutrition. But veterinary technicians, assistants and receptionists can answer important questions for clients. Need a starting point to make nutrition a whole-team affair? Bam, look at this and download it if you like.
3. The vet's important, but so are team hires
In Virginia Beach, pet owners overwhelmingly said they were loyal to their veterinarians and not necessarily the practices themselves. The pet owners in Kansas City were also a fan of their specific vet, but they said that one of the things they really appreciated their veterinarians doing was making good hires and promoting office culture. Multiple panel members mentioned that they loved their veterinarian but thought the other doctors at the practice were equally great because they shared values and approaches. This made them more comfortable seeing somebody different, if necessary. They also said they really appreciated when team members made a great impression (like knowing the pet's name when they walked in).
4. Nobody wants to be upsold
New technology and new medication: Will pet owners pay for it? Yes, as long as it doesn't feel like a sales pitch. Pet owners repeated that they were willing to spend extra money so long as they felt like the veterinarian was giving them an honest recommendation. It's the reason many of them bought medication from the practice instead of looking somewhere online-they trusted the medication at the practice to be a better quality and safer for the pets. But they didn't want it to feel like the practice was just trying to push new product. Honest thoughts and opinions were far more likely to sway their buying behavior.