Be like Google: How harnessing data can increase revenue and lead to happier clients
Two data scientists demonstrate how veterinary practices can take simple steps to better serve their communities and make more money in the process.
In a 2019 article, Harvard Business Review declared: “Data is the fuel of the new economy, and even more so of the economy to come.”1 Just 3 years later and the rapidly accelerating success of companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft make that commentary feel vastly understated. However, data as an economic driver is not solely the domain of tech giants. Presenting at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago, Bridget Bain, PhD, and Rosemary Radich, MA, made the case for veterinary practices to embrace the use data.2
Segmenting clients and utilizing PIMS
It’s no secret how companies like Google monetize data. All of its services—from Gmail to Google search, Android phones, smart watches, and beyond—are constantly harvesting data that is then used to sell highly targeted advertising.
How does this translate into veterinary practices? Bain believes it comes down to using data to provide better service to clients and patients.
“The more data that we collect, we are able to make the lives of those we serve more convenient, and we also improve their lives greatly,” said Bain. “As a non-data person, you may think data just involves how many clients you have or…the average transaction cost, but data is so much more than that.”
One example highlighted by the presenters was using data to segment the practice’s customers. This means dividing customers into different groups, which are then communicated with and marketed to in a way that reflects their values. In other words, treating people the way they want to be treated translates to happier clients and better revenue. This can be achieved by harnessing the data that should already be kept within a hospital’s practice information management system (PIMS).
Radich stressed that understanding pet ownership is critical for practices’ success, adding, “We’ve come up with all different types of messaging that we’ve tested out to provide specifically to our members and to practice owners so that they and their staff can really know what’s the best messaging that they can use to increase engagement.”
In their research, Radich and Bain identified 5 segments of pet owners and the ideal strategy for satisfying their needs for communication within the practice: pampered pets, enthusiastic families, casual caretakers, low-key and child-free, and occupied owners.
Pampered pet owners are the type who are likely to dress their pets in outfits and celebrate their birthdays on social media. These owners are willing to pay for the best service, and communication should emphasize personalized recommendations for the pet.
Enthusiastic families tend to value quality and convenience but are most concerned with overall value. Communication should emphasize compassionate and tailored care, according to the presenters.
Casual caretakers, who tend to be younger married couples with middle class income and kids, are looking for knowledgeable staff at a cost-effective price. Communication with these pet owners should focus on the clinic’s highly trained staff while working with the client to find the right payment option.
Low-key and child-free clients are likely to be aged 55 years and older with no kids. These pet parents are looking for quality and price. Communication compassion, understanding, and that the clinician is willing to spend time with these patients is paramount.
The final category is occupied owners who tend to make under $50,000. The best communication to this segment requires emphasizing staff knowledge and the loving environment the clinic will provide, while offering highly convenient service options.
The presenters found in their research that this simple act of segmenting patients can lead to better outcomes and better revenue. “Take an assessment of what data you have,” said Radich. “Do you have a practice management system? What data are you collecting from your clients?
Taking it a step further, Radich said that practices that simply have a PIMS are more likely to see increased revenue. Additionally, practices with the highest revenue increases also had highest PIMS usage, according to their research.
Segmenting clients is a simple action clinicians can take with the data they likely already have. With the data revolution already underway, it’s only a matter of time before more and more veterinary practices catch on to the value they’re leaving on the table.
“People are leveraging data for success,” said Radich. “You don’t want to get left behind.”
- Chakravorti B, Bhalla A, Chaturvedi, RS. Which countries are leading the data economy? Harvard Business Review. January 24, 2019. Accessed January 13, 2022. https://hbr.org/2019/01/which-countries-are-leading-the-data-economy
- Bain B, Radich R. The Power of Data: How Leaders Can Improve Lives Through Analysis and Insights. Presented at: AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference; January 6-9, 2022