By: Brad Jonesberg
These days, pet owners without an established relationship with a veterinary practice are SOL. (Yes, I know the rule about spelling out an acronym on first mention in an article, but I’m going to assume you know what SOL means. I also know what assuming does, but… I digress.)
The point is, veterinary practices are booked. Existing clients are lucky to get appointments within a few weeks, and new clients are often being turned away. That’s why veterinary client reminders are more important now than ever—you don’t want a valuable appointment slot to be wasted because someone forgot about it. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your reminders.
Vary your cadence and reminder types
“One email and done” is not the most effective way to remind clients. When I worked in veterinary practice, our compliance rate improved by 10% when we began to vary our reminder types and cadences to ensure people would actually see the reminders, and so we didn’t over-remind.
What kinds of reminders should you be sending and when? Based on my experience testing the most effective reminder strategy, I recommend the following:
|WHAT TO SEND||WHEN TO SEND IT|
|Postcard||60 days before service is due|
|30 days before service is due|
|Push notification and/or text message or email||10–14 days before service is due|
|Text message||5–7 days before service is due|
|Phone call||Only if requested by the client, |
or if other outreach efforts have failed
|Postcard, push notification, and/or email||30 days past-due|
Include a clear call to action
The last thing you want to do is send a beautiful reminder that grabs your clients’ attention, only to have them not book a veterinary appointment because they don’t have time to call your practice right now, or they don’t know where to go on your website to schedule.
Clearly tell your clients what you want them to do, followed by how they can do it. “Call our office at <phone number> or click here to request an appointment.”
- On your postcard reminders, include a QR code that links to your practice app or scheduling page on your website, and list your practice’s phone number.
- On emails and text messages, include the direct link to your app or scheduling page, as well as a clickable hospital phone number.
- On push notifications through your app, include a link to your app’s appointment request feature.
Automate your reminders
Gone are the days when all clients needed was to be called to be reminded of their appointments. Through your PMS or veterinary practice app, email, text, push notification, and postcard reminders can be automatically sent, so phone calls can be reserved for only those clients who didn’t confirm via another reminder method.
Make your reminders stand out
- Include the pet’s name in your email subject line — “It’s time for Fluffy’s visit!” will more likely be opened than “An important reminder from ABC Animal Hospital!”
- Personalize the reminders — Include the pet’s name, the client’s name, and any pertinent details in laypersons’ terms.
- Include an eye-catching design — Don’t let your postcards be mistaken for junk mail. Make them stand out with bright, attractive imagery.
DON’T: “Hi! Your pet is due for DHLPP. Call our office to book an appointment.”
DO: “Hi, Spot! It’s time for your canine distemper vaccine. Mr. Jones can call <phone number> or click here to schedule an appointment!”
Some clients will respond when they receive that early postcard reminder. Others will need a text message a week before to act. And, some will wait until they receive a past-due reminder before booking a veterinary appointment. Rather than asking clients up-front which type of reminder they’d like to receive, educate them about all the types of reminders your veterinary practice will send them. The pickiest clients won’t be shy about expressing their preferences, so if they request not to receive certain types of reminders, honor their wishes.
Brad Jonesberg, Success Coach
Brad Jonesberg spent nearly 5 years as a client relations manager for a small animal veterinary practice in Philadelphia, where he focused on creating an excellent and complete client experience. During his time in practice, Brad managed the CSR team and all client-facing communications, including the practice’s website and social media. He currently serves as a success coach for Vet2Pet.