The veterinary ally: A comprehensive communication solution
With the expansion of digital marketing and communication in recent years, the number of software options out there can overwhelm practice managers and hospital owners. Find out why these 3 veterinarians prefer AllyDVM.
Digital marketing and communication have evolved exponentially over the past few years and have been cemented as pillars of client retention and a quantifiable revenue stream in the veterinary industry. Meeting clients where they are—often on their mobile devices—with pertinent information tailored to their needs is essential to succeed in the current climate. In fact, the veterinary software industry is rapidly growing and is expected to surpass $2 billion by 2027.1 But not all communication services are created equally.
Too often, hospital owners and practice managers are overwhelmed with the software options available or find themselves constrained by the generic templates supplied by outdated systems. Providing timely, appealing client communications should not require a Master’s degree in IT.
dvm360® recently spoke with 3 experienced veterinary professionals to pinpoint common problems that practices encounter with subpar communication systems, while also shedding light on how AllyDVM has become an asset to their businesses.
The dilemma: Mending the communication gap between veterinary professionals and their clients.
A 2018 study conducted by the Partners for Healthy Pets— a collaborative alliance led by the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association—revealed significant disconnects between the viewpoints of pet owners and practitioners, particularly when it came to what occurred and was discovered during a physical exam for their pets, including pain assessments and dental exams.2
Clients do not always absorb the pertinent information relayed during an appointment or they fail to properly recall the recommended next steps.
The solution: Enhancing staff-client communications within the exam room setting is important, but having a follow-up tool to reiterate the services performed and veterinary recommendations could have a tremendous impact on client comprehension and compliance. For veterinary professionals who have struggled with this for years, it is easy to understand why AllyDVM’s direct messaging feature is quickly becoming one of the most popular components of the suite. Beyond sending appointment reminders—which it does seamlessly—it provides another channel of communication between the client and practice.
“More and more, our clients want instant communication and a quick turnaround of information. It is very easy to do that with AllyDVM. A client can send us a request and we can get right back to them,” says Patti Christie, CVT, CVPM, the practice manager at Minnehaha Animal Hospital and Pet Doctors Animal Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Clients also really appreciate that they have the ability to connect with us without having to make a call.”
William Armbruster, DVM, who owns 3 veterinary hospitals in central Illinois— Greenhaven Animal Clinic, Prairiehaven Animal Hospital, and Best Friends Animal Hospital—says he cannot place a high enough value on strong practice-client communications. “It is so critical today. It’s not just the younger generations that use the feature; everybody likes texting.”
The client service representatives and technicians at his hospitals regularly use the direct messaging/texting feature to follow up with clients after a visit. “Our clients love the fact that it is relatively quick and easy for us to check in with them,” he adds. “It helps with client communication and retention, as well as bonding the client to the clinic.”
The dilemma: Practices lose a large amount of potential income when client compliance and retention lapse.
Pet parents are notorious for missing the recommended schedules for vaccines, annuals, and other health services. This is detrimental to a patient’s health and could prevent the early diagnosis of treatable diseases.
The solution: There are steps practices can implement to increase client compliance for routine wellness visits and vaccinations. These, in turn, have evident effects on the bottom line. AllyDVM’s client retention calendar makes it simple for hospitals to notify clients when their pet is due for a wellness visit and encourages multi-pet homes to schedule all of their exams at once.
“The retention calendar was a huge [selling point] for us because it is so helpful to show us the other pets in the household that are due for exams. I do not know how many times we have had clients get mad at us for not letting them know their other pets were due to be seen, too,” explains Kerry Lueker, CVT, hospital manager at Crest Hill Cat and Dog Clinic in Joliet, Illinois.
Dr. Armbruster utilizes the retention calendar to forward book all appointments. “If you are in for a routine wellness exam, we are making your exam appointment for 6 months from now before you leave. Or if it is a sick patient, then you are getting booked a week or 2 out, depending on the doctor’s recommendation.”
Once an appointment is scheduled, the reminder system can be programmed to send automatic reminders. This has helped practices decrease the number of no-shows and last-minute cancellations. “From a convenience standpoint, you’ll get a reminder text that your appointment is coming up. It is nice that the feature is customizable, too. We can set whether the reminder text goes out 2, 3, or 4 days in advance to let the client know they have a pending appointment,” Dr. Armbruster says.
The dilemma: Generic email communications are left unread; valuable information never reaches clients.
Veterinary clients are savvy. They can recognize when a blanketed email campaign lands in their inbox and can generally infer by the subject line if the topic is of interest. It is imperative that hospitals stand out from the dozens of emails that people receive on a daily basis. It is counterproductive to send an email about senior bloodwork testing to an entire database when it only applies to a small segment of the clientele. Similarly, households with only cats are not interested in discounts on canine heartworm preventatives.
The solution: Make your communications matter. Each message should be valuable to the intended recipient. AllyDVM has proven to be one of the leaders in providing filtering capabilities. Users can target the right client segment—by species, procedure, age, disease, etc.—at the right time, automatically.
“We can target information relative to senior pets, for example,” Christie explains. “So we can target the patient individually and use that opportunity to provide information as well as give them a reason to set up an appointment for their pet.”
The dilemma: Incorrect or invalid client contact information leads to otherwise avoidable miscommunications.
For Lueker, clients not receiving intended phone calls and reminders was one of the biggest challenges her hospital faced. Previous communication software missed the mark in alerting her of errors within the system. “We didn’t have a way to track that before. Our old software would alert us that 10 emails did not get sent out, but not which specific clients.”
The solution: AllyDVM is designed to highlight missing information or possible contact errors. “It will show me if someone put in ‘Yahoo’ with an extra ‘o’ or if someone spelled something wrong,” Lueker explains. Fixing those mistakes is simple and has a profound impact on ensuring intended communications are received.
“One thing that is really nice about the feature is that it also tells you how much you are potentially missing in revenue by not getting the right information, like the correct email or telephone number,” Christie adds. Similarly, AllyDVM has tools to reflect the revenue gained by taking advantage of the retention calendar features.
The dilemma: Box stores and commercialized websites are steering clients away from hospitals’ dedicated online stores and pharmacies. Practices may feel they do not have the means to compete with retailers.
The solution: Recently, AllyDVM launched its buzzed-about manufacturer partner program to complement the communication services that practices have grown to depend on. The Synergy Partner Program is a turn-key marketing tool kit that includes simple, automated email campaigns. The email capabilities also include money-saving offers from some of our top manufacturer partners in the industry, designed to drive pet owners into the practice to purchase products.
Lueker has found the program particularly helpful in getting clients to act on offers related to heartworm medications. Clients would call as a result of receiving the email, and the staff provided further information about the product and how it could benefit their pets. “We’ve gleaned quite a lot of revenue just from getting them to come in for ProHeart®,” she explains.
Her practice had a similar experience after sending a Synergy Partner Program email regarding Simparica Trio®. “A lot of people were waiting for it to come out since it is an all-in-1. As soon as they received the email, they were on the phone calling us to see what they needed to do next for their pet to receive it.”
The dilemma: Clients crave ease and instant gratification. The standard routine of calling a clinic, being placed on hold, and then trying to sync schedules based on availability does not fit those criteria.
The solution: AllyDVM’s live bookings calendar can be easily added to a hospital’s website or patient portal, the latter of which syncs directly to a hospital’s practice management system.
“Our clients love it,” Lueker says. “They can access pet health records, set up appointments, request refills, and view loyalty points. There are also hot buttons that will take them over to our online pharmacy, website, Facebook, etc.” Additionally, it provides clients with control over finding an appointment that works best for their schedule
“With AllyDVM it shows clients the actual days and times that are available,” she adds. “Our old software did not show that, therefore, people would be requesting appointments for the next day and then getting upset with us that we could not fit them in.”
The calendar also shows availability based on appointment type. “For example, our sick appointments are longer visits,” explains Lueker. “So if they are requesting a sick appointment, but we only have a 20-minute spot open versus a 40-minute slot, it will not even show them that slot. It will just show them the 40-minute ones.”
The bottom line: When it comes to finding a client-communication service, don’t settle. Your practice’s reputation and revenue are on the line.
“AllyDVM is one of the most important tools we have in our toolbox, quite honestly,” Christie explains. “It was really well designed by people who certainly understand the industry and the needs we have."
WORKING TOGETHER TO HELP YOUR PRACTICE SUCCEED Leverage all of the offerings and programs from MWI to help you improve compliance, grow revenue, and support pet health and happiness. www.mwiah.com/compliance/dvm360
- Allied Market Research. Veterinary Software Market Statistics, Growth Analysis and Forecast - 2027. Allied Market Research, 2019. www.alliedmarketresearch.com/ veterinary-software-market#:%7E:text=The%20global%20 veterinary%20software%20market,6.1%25%20from%20 2020%20to%202027. Accessed May 14, 2021.
- 2. An American Animal Hospital Association-American Veterinary Medical Association White Paper. The Opportunity Pet Owners Don’t Always Hear What We Think We Tell Them (and How to Fix That). Partners for Healthy Pets. 2018. Accwww.aaha.org/globalassets/04-practiceresources/The-Opportunity. Accessed May 14, 2021.