Harness the power of following up to stay competitive

by By Caitlin DeWilde, DVM

8 min read

While you may consider the completion of a pet’s visit the final step in a case, you could be overlooking critical opportunities. Following up via phone, text, or email has the power to help you compete and provide better care and outcomes for patients, clients, and teams alike.

How following up helps your clients

How many times have you left your own doctor’s office and realized you forgot to ask an important question? The same thing happens to your clients when they leave your practice.

Checking in with pet owners after their visit helps to build trust and rapport while demonstrating that your team cares about their pet’s wellbeing. Following up provides the opportunity to answer questions, calm concerns, and forward book any needed appointments.

How following up helps your patients

Once a patient’s medical records are finished, the next interaction with them is when the owner requests an appointment — a reactive rather than proactive approach. But following up with owners after a sick pet’s appointment helps you catch issues early, such as problems giving medications, confusion about next steps in the treatment course, or a misunderstanding about the plan for a follow-up visit. Rather than waiting until the next appointment, which may be weeks away, clients have a chance to ask questions now and make any necessary adjustments right away, helping patients recover sooner.

Even healthy preventative appointments can benefit from post-visit follow-ups. When your team checks in after an annual visit, they can reinforce product recommendations and provide convenient access to those products. Sending product recommendations that may not have been purchased during the visit helps owners remember to purchase the items their doctors recommend while encouraging convenient online ordering and home delivery. This approach helps clients and veterinary teams work together to keep the pet protected and healthy.

How following up helps your practice

Touching base with pet owners helps build client loyalty, giving another touchpoint to relationships that may otherwise only occur in person once or twice a year.

Following up with satisfied clients after their visit provides an opportunity to ask them to write an online review for your practice, which helps improve your online reputation. Asking clients to complete a post-visit survey will help your team better understand their strengths and weaknesses so they can focus on continual growth and improvement.

These check-ins can reveal owner questions, concerns, or new needs that can encourage additional appointments and an increase in revenue.

Best practices for following up with veterinary clients

Do it sooner rather than later

Improve clinical outcomes for recovering patients by addressing client concerns early. For healthy patients, you can make or reinforce product recommendations while the topic is still fresh in the pet owner’s mind. If a client is unhappy with their experience, following up is an opportunity to address concerns before they make a negative online review.

Most practice management guidelines recommend follow-up calls, emails, or texts be completed 24 to 48 hours after a patient visit.

Know your client communication preferences

If your client has noted that they prefer texting, don’t call and leave a voicemail that they’ll never acknowledge. Meet them where they’re at and enjoy much better results.

Build time into the schedule for follow-up communications

Make it a priority to give your teams time to complete and document follow-ups, and to address anything that comes up as a result. The time you build into your schedule for following up will vary based on the number of patients you see, but a good rule of thumb is about one hour across all team members for a one-doctor day.

Develop templates and workflows to make follow-ups a breeze

Have a consistent workflow for client follow-ups, and make sure everyone on the team knows the process. Phone scripts and templates for emails and texts provide a starting point for your team to personalize the messaging based on each patient’s unique scenario. This saves your team time and helps communications stay consistent.

Following up after visits is an opportunity to ensure client questions are answered, reinforce the recommendations you made during the visit, and receive feedback and build client loyalty. Find out how Vetsource can help take your client follow-ups to the next level.

Caitlin DeWilde, DVM

Caitlin DeWilde, DVM

Caitlin DeWilde, DVM is a practicing veterinarian graduate from the University of Illinois and is the founder of The Social DVM, a consulting firm devoted to helping veterinary professionals learn, manage and grow their social media and online reputation.

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