Communicating during a crisis

Communicating during a crisis

Keeping in touch with your customers may never be more important than it is now. You have probably sent more emails and had more Facebook page interactions with your customer in recent months than ever before.

You will undoubtedly already be doing a lot of customer communication, even without realising. In the content area of your practice management software, you will probably have standard advice letters and information for your pet owners. You probably also have posters on the wall, and information screens in your waiting room, as well as the brochures from sales representatives. All with one aim; the better informed your customers are; the smoother consultations will be.

However, the current Corona situation makes providing information to your customer more challenging. For example, your usual informative posters in the waiting room have given in to the host of Corona information you need to share. Although you may receive more calls and emails, your normal contact points such as consultations and over-the-counter walk-ins have almost certainly declined. So how do you ensure that you inform your customers in the most effective way possible?

Below are some examples of how you can quickly and easily communicate with pet owners.

Passive Communication

Email

An auto-reply email (an automated reply send to all incoming emails), is an excellent way to answer common questions. Include an estimated reply time, the latest practice information (such as opening hours), and any answers to common questions. However don’t make it too long, instead, consider redirecting people to a more details page on your website. See how to create an auto-reply in Gmail.

Voicemail

You’re current voicemail probably contains opening hours and an emergency telephone number? Have you ever thought of referring to information on your website? For example: “[…] For more information about our Corona measures, please visit yourpracticename.com/corona”

Google

Whether you know it or not, your practice is almost certainly listed on Google Maps (and if it isn’t you probably should look into it). Did you know you can update important information such as revised opening hours? With sufficient data, your listing also shows customers when you’re busy!

Social Media (e.g. Facebook and Instagram)

Many customers will turn to Social media for your latest information, so make sure you have the most current information there. If appropriate, it’s good to show that it is ‘business as usual’ at your practice, and highlight your compliance with government laws and recommendations. One great way to do this is to post images to give a glimpse into your ‘new’ working day. Try to continue to do this, and try to invite involvement from customers.

Active Communication

Newsletter

If you’re not already regularly sending a newsletter to clients, now is the perfect time to start. A newsletter allows you to answer common questions (saving calls to your practice), it also allows you to provide the latest promotions, and keep in the front of the client’s minds. IDEXX Animana users can get started by checking out the Content Designer Learning Path.

Text Messages

Have you ever thought about updating owners about their appointment, informing them about your Corona measures? Time and time again, we’re seen that text-messages are a simple and effective way to communicate. Via the client card in Animana, you can quickly and easily send an SMS message to an individual pet owner. IDEXX Animana users can get started by checking out the Automated Reminders Learning Path.

Think Out of the Box:

Although handling the impact of the Coronavirus may limit your resources more than usual, with modern technology, sometimes you need to think a bit more laterally. For example, Vetstoria offers Telemedicine software which allows video consultations. Or maybe you want to host a puppy party in the summer – if so, do it online with free collaborative meeting tools like Google Meet. Digitally distance isn’t an issue, so make new collaborations with local or even national animal training schools, and meet new audiences. You can also look at dog and cat groups on Facebook to find out which themes are currently with pet owners – useful research to help customise your communications.

You will be amazed by what proactive sharing of information can do for your practice!

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