A veterinary consultant weighs in on texting

dog breakfast

It’s increasingly rare to find a client that doesn’t have a mobile phone.A recent survey indicated that between 92-100% of smartphone owners utilize text messaging on at least a weekly basis. For an increasing number of your younger clients, text messaging is actually strongly preferred to phone calls. Not only are your clients familiar with texting, but they’re also substantially more likely to open messages they receive via text– text messages have a 98% opening rate vs. around 20% for emails. All that said, texting clients from your existing hospital phone number can present new communication opportunities for your practice. While there are a handful of providers who can text-enable your practice’s existing business landline number, the one I’m most familiar with (and use at my practice) is Zipwhip.

Eliminate Phone Tag

Zipwhip app shown on a phone and laptop

The Zipwhip app lets you text from your any internet-connected device.

The first benefit of text-enabling your practice’s number is that your clients can contact you via text instead of by phone or email to schedule appointments, ask simple questions, etc. I see this as being willing to meet clients where they’re most comfortable. I was surprised by the number of clients at my practice that have expressed how much they prefer being able to text us instead of calling. Texting has also helped us eliminate a lot of the back-and-forth phone tag we often experience with clients (especially during the work day).

Send Picture Messages

screen shot of a text conversation what includes a picture message of a puppy

Another opportunity is to send post-surgery/procedure texts. This could be as simple as “Max has woken up from his surgery and is resting comfortably.” Something along these lines, with a picture of “Max” covered under a blanket with a stuffed animal nearby, is going to melt your client’s heart. At my practice, we frequently see these photos go on to be shared on the client’s social media feeds. Sending a picture is a way to strengthen client relationships and show them your practice cares.

Boarding Guest Updates

Finally, if your practice offers pet boarding, you can send text and photo updates to clients during their pet’s stay at your facility. At my practice, we offer clients a special business card at check in and encourage them to call or text anytime to check in on their pet. We’ve found that most clients prefer to text. We’ve equipped our boarding team members with a handful of iPod Touch devices to make sending and responding to messages quick and easy. Sending photo updates demonstrates above-and-beyond customer service.

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