As a practice manager, you always have a long list of tasks and initiatives fighting for your attention. One tool you can use when prioritizing was invented by Gary Keller and introduced in his book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
Keller’s concept is simple: When you’re looking at a list of tasks or initiatives and trying to decide which to focus on first, try to prioritize those that will make everything else on your list easier or, even better, unnecessary.
Collecting email addresses is a great example of Keller’s concept in action. As your team collects more and more email addresses, these efforts will have an ever-increasing and disproportionate impact throughout your veterinary practice. Take a look at how this impact could potentially add up:
1. More efficient appointment confirmations. Every client email in your PIMS represents an opportunity for your team to eliminate an appointment confirmation phone call. There are plenty of great options available to automate your confirmation process using email. The time savings they offer can add up very quickly.
2. Post-visit surveys and online reviews. Every client email represents an opportunity to solicit feedback. Surveying clients post-visit allows you to monitor your team’s performance and provides an early warning of client concerns before they snowball into bigger issues. An additional benefit is that most survey platforms automatically encourage happy clients to leave reviews online.
3. Quick and easy mass communication. Sometimes there are important messages that you need to send to your entire client base, like announcing new practice hours or welcoming a new DVM to your team. Email is probably the most efficient and cost-effective way to reach most of your clients at once.
4. Lower postage costs. Not all clients respond to their first vaccine and treatment reminders, prompting veterinarian practices to send out second and sometimes third reminders. With the right platform and protocols in place, you can issue a first reminder to your clients by email and only mail postcard reminders to those who don’t respond, thereby reducing your postage costs.
5. More efficient follow-up communication. Having a valid email address for each client increases the efficiency of your team’s follow-up communication. Instead of playing a game of phone tag with a client, your team can leave a voicemail and then pick up the conversation via email. For example, “Good evening, Mrs. Smith. This is Dr. Jones at Acme Veterinary Clinic. I was just calling to update you on Max’s test results. Overall his levels are looking good. One of our nurses is going to send you an email shortly with more details using the address we have on file. Once you receive that, if you have any questions, please give us a call at 555-1212. Thanks!”
Two tips for improving your email collection rate
Most well-established practices shouldn’t have too much difficulty boosting their collection percentages into the mid- to high 80s by following these tips. New practices tend to set a slightly higher bar.
1. Incentivize your team
To get a jump start on collecting emails or reenergizing your existing initiative, consider incentivizing your team. Try this idea: Provide your staff with a roll of raffle tickets. Every time someone collects a new email address or updates an existing address, they can write the client’s account number on the raffle ticket along with their initials. At the end of each week or during the next staff meeting, draw raffle tickets for small but fun prizes and rewards. This method (versus awarding a prize based on who collects the most) keeps everyone in the game since the more a team member collects, the better chance they have at being rewarded and recognized for their efforts. After several weeks, you’ll find they’re automatically asking for and updating client emails.
2. Finetune your pitch
Instead of saying “Would you like us to add an email address to your account?” encourage your team to use this wording: “Mrs. Smith, what’s the best email address for us to associate with Max’s medical records?” This subtle tweak incorporates two significant changes. First, the request focuses on which email address the client would like to provide, not on whether they would like to provide an address in the first place. Second, by referencing their pet’s medical records, I’ve found that many clients will mentally reframe the request from something associated with receiving marketing emails to something that is important and necessary for their pet’s health and well-being.