When you were a child dreaming of becoming a veterinarian to help animals, you never imagined your days would be largely spent trying to reach pet owners to discuss diagnostic testing, treatment plans, and status updates. In fact, you seem to spend more time glued to a phone or computer than actually handling a pet. Client communication eats up such a huge chunk of your daily schedule—and sometimes overnight and weekends, as well—that you are left with little time to focus on the reason you originally pursued this career.
To make matters more complicated, you bounce back and forth between phone calls, emails, and text messages to keep up with client communication. Wouldn’t it be easier to lean on one communication method for most situations? Other communication forms have their specific uses, such as complex conversations, conveying a poor prognosis, or financial discussions. But, 2-Way Chat is more convenient and efficient for simple conversations. Take a look at a few examples of how 2-Way Chat streamlines client communication.
How 2-Way Chat streamlines client communication
In these difficult times, you should check out our blog post that outlines six ways to use our 2-Way Chat feature to relieve stress during curbside care. But, long after curbside care is no longer a necessity, your branded hospital app’s chat feature will still offer many ways to streamline communication. Here are some of 2-Way Chat’s key benefits.
- Helping you decide if an in-person appointment is necessary — Rather than tying up your phone line and your client service representative during a busy appointment block, triage your patients via 2-Way Chat. Ask your client to send a video or picture of the problem, gather a history, and determine if the pet needs to be seen in the hospital. You can often use telemedicine for minor issues, freeing up in-practice appointment slots, while still generating revenue. Or, you can advise your client to monitor their pet at home, because an in-person appointment is not necessary.
- Sending pre-appointment reminders — Although many pre-appointment reminders, such as withholding food prior to surgery, or bringing a urine or fecal sample, are automated in the Vet2Pet notification reminder system, 2-Way Chat. allows you to send specialized notifications before appointments. Need a client to bring their pet’s food bag, or drop them off at a certain time? Simply shoot them a chat message.
- Discussing diagnostic testing results — Many pet owners appreciate the convenience of dropping their pet off for an exam and diagnostic workup, and running errands or returning to work while they wait for your phone call that their pet is ready for pick-up. Of course, when you get a free moment to call, they are inevitably in a meeting, or tied up with their kids. Rather than leaving a convoluted voicemail that your client probably won’t listen to, or understand, simply highlight your findings in a chat message. Your client can read and reread their pet’s test results, share the results with family members, and ask you any questions.
- Outlining treatment plans — Your treatment plans can be lengthy and complicated, making them difficult for your client to absorb. Newly diagnosed diabetic cases are one example, but with 2-Way Chat, you can simply outline your treatment plan for food, insulin dosage, and follow-up blood glucose curves. Plus, a treatment plan saved in the chat feature allows the owner to share details with other family members or petsitters, without you having to reiterate everything you told the pet owner to their spouse.
- Sending status updates — Hospitalized patients naturally come with worried pet owners. A 2019 Frontiers in Veterinary Science study, which I conducted with two colleagues, found the majority of clients expect frequent updates regarding their hospitalized pet—27% would prefer to be updated every two to three hours, and 35% every four to six hours. With 2-Way Chat, you can send your clients pictures, videos, and quick messages about status updates, allowing them to be part of their pet’s recovery process. Post-surgery pictures of warmly snuggled pets, or a video of a pet’s first steps after TPLO surgery, will strengthen your relationship with your client, and ease their worries.
- Collecting payment — With Vet2Pet’s Virtual Payment feature, you can send a payment request through 2-Way Chat. Whether a patient is ready for discharge, a client is in a hurry to pick up medication, or you plan to generate revenue through the chat feature, you can easily collect payment through the app with no physical credit card transactions.
With the many ways 2-Way Chat streamlines your client communication process, allowing you to become more efficient and generate more client loyalty, you’ll wish Vet2Pet had been around since your first days as a practicing veterinarian.
2-Way Chat versus text
You may ask, “Isn’t 2-Way Chat simply texting?” Although similar, chatting through the app platform offers many extra benefits. With texting, you either—heaven forbid—hand out your personal cell number, purchase a separate practice cell phone, or enroll in a generic texting service. These options have several cons:
- Personal is not private — Your client has your personal phone number, which may be one of a veterinarian’s worst-possible nightmares.
- Extra expense — Purchasing a separate cell phone and texting plan for your practice is an additional expense with few benefits. Clients may also incur data charges via texting from their provider. Vet2Pet’s app chat allows conversations to occur inside the platform so there are no additional data charges for the practice or the pet owner.
- Generic is not personal — A generic texting service doesn’t provide a hospital-branded message, and may come from a 1-800 number that clients may accidentally delete as a spam message. Plus, your client may call that number, thinking they are calling your practice, only to arrive at a dead end.
The pros of 2-Way Chat over texting include:
- Keeping your personal phone number private — Clients can’t text you at all hours of the night, demanding an immediate response. App chat hours can be set to disallow clients to text outside your normal business hours.
- Sharing information among all family members — With Vet2Pet, there’s a family-share option. Multiple members of the same family, or caregivers of the same pet, can log on and participate in a group chat. This allows all key decision-makers to be present for the conversation regarding a pet’s care, and eliminates miscommunication between husband and wife, or child and parents. Many times, a husband picks up a pet and goes home with follow-up care instructions, only for the wife to call the practice for more detailed information than the husband remembered. With 2-Way Chat, all family members receive the same information, and can ask questions about patient care.
- Saving message history — Some people clear their message history as soon as they wrap up a conversation, deleting potentially important future information. With 2-Way Chat, all messages are saved in the history. Perhaps you shared a video through the chat feature on giving insulin injections, which will be permanently accessible for clients, without needing to keep a text open forever.
- Compressing videos for easy messaging — Text messages cannot download videos that are too long, but 2-Way Chat compresses videos, allowing you to send larger files quicker.
2-Way Chat versus email
Email certainly has its place—it’s your primary method of receiving laboratory reports, expert X-ray interpretation, and updates on pets you have referred to veterinary specialists. However, it’s not the most efficient way to communicate with your clients. If the thought of weeding through your overflowing inbox for a patient update fills you with dread, you may find keeping all your client communications in one place less overwhelming.
Benefits of 2-Way Chat over email include:
- Putting everything in its place — All your client communication pertaining to a specific patient is in one location—messages, pictures, and videos. There’s no need to search through email inboxes, Facebook messenger, or your personal texts for information about your patient.
- Conversing in real time — In the time it takes to send an email, wait for your client’s computer to receive it, and wait for their response—hopefully, you don’t get side-tracked and forget about the conversation—you can have an entire conversation with real-time communication via 2-Way Chat.
- Standing out from endless junk mail — According to Radicati, the average worker receives almost 100 emails per day, and your clients’ personal email accounts are just as busy. Your emailed treatment plan, sandwiched between an advertisement for the local water park and a Groupon reminder, may get lost in an overflowing inbox, never to be opened. When a client claims they never received your email, you won’t know if that’s really the case, or if it’s sitting in a spam folder somewhere. With 2-Way Chat, your message can’t get lost in a sea of junk mail, or end up in a promotions folder that is never checked. Your clients won’t miss your important messages, and you won’t have to search through your “sent” file to convince them—and yourself—that you actually did send those lab results.
2-Way Chat versus phone calls
Phone conversations help create a rapport with your clients, and allow for emotional inflection in your tone. However, there’s still room for misinterpretation, whether through a bad connection, a client not paying attention, or losing a message in translation from you to a client. Your client only has one chance to hear what you have to say about their pet’s condition, whereas in app chat, they can read it over and over. The 2-Way Chat feature is ideal for home-care instructions, medication administration tips, or advice on issues owners need to watch for in their pets. Other major benefits of 2-Way Chat over phone calls include:
- No more he said, she said — Our 2-Way Chat feature eliminates he-said, she-said miscommunication between family members. With app chat, each family member can read through your discharge instructions as many times as necessary to provide optimal care for their pet.
- Eliminating time wasted — A major benefit of 2-Way Chat over phone calls is the wasted time that is eliminated. If you seem to spend most of your working hours playing phone tag with clients, switch to app chat. Send a quick message, see an appointment or two, and then proceed with a treatment plan after the owner sends permission. No more attempting to leave a voicemail in a box not yet set up, trying to contact a client that won’t answer, or a client calling you back as soon as you step into a new appointment.
When to choose other client communication methods over 2-Way Chat
2-Way Chat is an incredible method for speedy, simple client communication, but other forms are preferable in certain situations, such as:
- Serious discussions relating to a pet’s condition or prognosis
- Financial discussions
- Any sign of miscommunication
How to use 2-Way Chat to boost revenue and client loyalty
You can offer 2-Way Chat as a perk to your clients for no additional fee to deepen their loyalty to your practice, and to keep them away from Dr. Google. Or, you can offer unlimited 2-Way Chat as a premium service that clients can pay for by the month or year, or simply charge by the individual chat session.
An excellent way to boost practice revenue using 2-Way Chat is through appointment scheduling. Many pet owners want advice without an in-person appointment. However, if they send you a picture of a suspicious lump, or a video of an unusual cough, and you say, “After reviewing the history you sent about your pet’s condition, I recommend scheduling an in-person appointment,” they are more likely to schedule that appointment. Once the pet is in your practice, you can make further recommendations on diagnostic testing and treatment plans, rather than giving away advice for free through app chat.
Set up 2-Way Chat for your practice
Using 2-Way Chat, pet owners can initiate a chat, rate the urgency, and submit photos and videos to your practice. You’ll be notified when the messages appear in the Vet2Pet admin dashboard, which you can access anytime, anywhere, on desktop or mobile. Each practice can choose how to offer chat, and, with our virtual payment feature, decide whether to charge clients per individual chat, for monthly unlimited chat, or not at all. By offering 2-Way Chat, you can eliminate unwanted texts or Facebook messages from clients at all hours, by turning them to your app’s chat feature for communication.
Have you tried 2-Way Chat? Visit vet2pet.com/demo to schedule a 30-minute demo. If you already have the Vet2Pet app, contact our dedicated support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-422-3284 with questions about the 2-Way Chat feature.
Dr. Stacee Santi, CEO/Founder Vet2Pet
Dr. Stacee Santi is a 1996 DVM graduate from Colorado State University and the founder of Vet2Pet, a technology startup that builds personalized custom apps for veterinary practices. With over 20 years of clinical experience in small animal and emergency practice, Stacee brings an “in the trenches” approach to innovation and solutions for veterinary teams. She has also served as a medical advisory consultant for NVA for 5 years, medical director for a general/ER practice in Colorado as well as current President of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. She can be reached at email@example.com.