Veterinary practices are uniquely important, and not least of all because they help bridge the gap between the animals that are so special to our lives, and we humans who look after them.
But the role of the vet practice goes beyond professional training, animal care, or practice cleanliness, as good vets well know. The key to a veterinary practice’s success is communication, and knowing how to best give your customers the information they need to make the right decisions for their loved ones.
As a veterinary professional, you also need to be delivering a great customer experience that keeps people coming back for more and ensuring their animals live their best lives.
Here are five simple things you can do right now to supercharge your customer experience and make your practice the number one choice in your area.
1. Own your Google presence
As you’ll no doubt know, Google is the first point of contact for many animal lovers, which makes it critical for engaging new customers. In fact, a whopping 97% of consumers read reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and the bulk of those are coming via Google.
To start with, make sure you’re working Google to your advantage and creating a Google My Business account. That means you can claim your business as your own – and be able to edit hours and location, respond to reviews, and upload photos.
But it gets better. Owning your account gives you more control over your online reputation. And how well you put yourself out there affects your business bookings. 90% of customers now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – so it pays to have a strong presence with plenty of reviews so you can draw in more customers.
2. Ramp up your reviews
A recent Nielsen study revealed that a staggering 92% of prospective customers will engage with your business if you have a four-star or higher rating. But it drops to just 27% if you have a two-star rating (and who can blame them?!).
The first thing you need to do is start asking your customers to review you. You’ll need a combination of quantity and quality of reviews if you want to be trusted. Potential customers expect an average of 40 reviews before believing that a business’s star rating – good or bad – is accurate.
The fix is easy enough: start asking for reviews as part of your standard processes, and use these to drive more traffic to your practice. Using a tool like Customer Radar can easily automate this process for you - helping you to get more reviews more often.
3. Ask the right questions
Veterinary work, like dental work or a mechanic’s bill, isn’t always something people want to spend on. Vets also deal with the emotive area of animal companionship, where a high level of care is needed and often at extremely vulnerable times. Managing that relationship, then, is key to building a strong bond.
Asking for feedback is one of the best ways to ensure that your customers know that you’re there to serve them – especially in the vet space, where great service covers the needs of people and their animals. It shows you’re listening and that your care of duty goes beyond the practice’s walls.
Naturally, you want to know how well you’re doing. And cultivating online reviews is important, as it lets prospective customers see what others say about you – but is it giving you the right insights to build on?
To get a better understanding of how you’re performing start by asking the right questions that go beyond a singular star rating, such as How likely your customers are to recommend you, and why?
Once you’ve cultivated the right questions, you can start getting qualitative and quantitative insights on everything from the state of your practice to patient care, and more. Only then can you take another step on the journey of providing the best possible care and experience.
4. Make it easy for your customers to engage
An overwhelming 96% of unhappy customers won’t proactively complain if they have an issue – they just won’t come back. You want to give them opportunities to share their thoughts so that you can fix their issues and turn their experiences around – ideally, before it hits Google or bad word-of-mouth soils your hard-earned reputation.
To help your vet practice customers give you feedback as easily as possible, you should ask as soon as you can after they’ve interacted with you – when the feeling is fresh, and before they’ve forgotten any key details.
Use whatever channels are available to you: if you’ve got their phone numbers, then send a text message after they leave the practice; if you have their email, then prompt them for feedback in any follow-up messages. Combining your existing Practice Management software with a tool like Customer Radar will give you the ability to automate this so you don’t have to lift a finger.
And keep it short and sweet, giving them the easiest (and quickest!) possible ways to let you know what they’re thinking.
5. Track your data
But all the feedback in the world won’t help you if you don’t have a way to get insights from that data and respond to what your customers are saying as and when it happens. And a clumsy spreadsheet is only going to sponge up valuable time.
Using a cloud-based software like Customer Radar will give you real-time insight which will allow you to resolve issues directly with your customer while empowering your team to help you build a better business.
Being able to generate and respond to feedback helps make happy customers that stick with you long term, and keeping customers in your business helps you get the best lifetime value from them. Not only are you better able to care for them and their pets (and pick up on any trends), but you’re also keeping your business in the green. Plus, with great word of mouth, it’ll grow your business too.
Increasingly, customers in all industries want to shed the one-size-fits-all businesses and get a personal experience that speaks to their needs. They want reliable, trusted partners who show that they’re listening. So all you have to do is ask.