When Ms. Marks and her poodle Jeffrey walk into your exam room, they naturally fall into the category of “client/patient” or “pet owner/pet.” If you know Ms. Marks better as “Jen” from outside of work, she might even have the added role of “good friend” or “neighbor.” But what about the label of “learner”? Do you think of your clients as learners?
If you don’t, think again.
With information available at the tap of a finger, pet owners are consuming knowledge (accurate or otherwise) faster than ever before. In fact, the American Pet Product Association reported that in 2019, U.S. spending in the pet industry was $95.7 billion dollars. And since it’s rare for anyone to purchase products or services without researching them, it’s safe to assume that pet owners who contributed to this number learned A LOT while doing so.
The modern learner
Ms. Marks, pet owners in general, your colleagues, and even yourself, are the types of people that Bersin by Deloitte was thinking about when they developed their “Meet the Modern Learner” infographic. Regardless of what side of the exam table you’re standing on, we are all modern-day learning professionals—both at and outside of work—with a desire to learn about topics that matter to us. However, we all face the forces of impatience, distraction, and information overload in our attempts to do so.
Let’s think of this in the context of a pet owner looking for health information about their pet’s health.
Knowing this, it’s easy to appreciate how well-intentioned pet health education efforts by a veterinary team can be derailed. And it’s not that pet owners don’t want the information. They do, but your messages have serious competition when it comes to securing a spot on their radar.
So where does that leave us?
As you start to see pet owners as modern learners and consider their Achilles heel for learning, what are some things you can do to get your client education message heard?
1. Overcome impatience: Give pet owners the right information when they want it
This means that if a pet owner is concerned about their pet’s upcoming dental cleaning, address those concerns. It’s not the time to hammer home the importance of heartworm prevention. If your client doesn’t get their questions answered and feel reassured, they’ll start Googling as soon as they leave the clinic. And of course, that usually ends with them finding irrelevant results or testimonials by pet owners who have experienced the worst possible outcomes. Not helpful.
By providing a tangible, topic-targeted handout from ClientEd, you ensure your clients have the right information that clearly and concisely matches their focus at that moment. And because you can review it with them, tailor it to their pet, and offer it with a reassuring word, you’re demonstrating that what you provide—good information AND humanity—is worth more than Dr. Google can offer.
2. Overcome distraction: Grab the attention of pet owners in new ways
You know how when you drive to work every day and don’t really notice the scenery. And then one day, someone gives you a ride, and as the passenger, you see things you hadn’t noticed before—a new building, an updated sign? Just the act of changing seats in the car can be enough of a change to make you sit up and take notice.
The same thing applies when sharing information with pet owners. By using a ClientEd handout as part of your in-clinic conversation—be it for drawing on, highlighting key ideas in, or using it to jot down home care details for a pet—you’ve changed up your delivery. Now the client has something to focus on, something that you’ve identified as being an important source of information, is theirs to keep, and unlike their Google searches, is specific to their pet’s health needs.
Another way to catch a client’s attention is to include new and relevant information in communications that they’re expecting to receive from you. For example, if you send an appointment reminder that their pet is due for vaccinations, include a link to the handout in the ClientEd library on why boosters are important. They won’t be expecting it and, with the ClientEd library integrated into your website, you can surprise them with a complete repository of free and reliable information.
Free and reliable? There’s an attention grabber if there ever was one!
3. Overcome information overload: Encourage thinking instead of remembering
From the beginning of a pet’s appointment to the end, clients are trying to remember a lot—things they’ve observed at home, questions they want to ask, next appointment dates, and more. And that’s on top of your pet care recommendations, medication instructions, and everything else they’ve got going on.
Instead of adding to your client’s mental load and risking memory failure, subtract where you can to encourage thinking instead of remembering. For example, use a ClientEd handout as a guide to review a pet’s health condition with a client, but remind the client that the details are all contained in the handout. This takes the pressure off clients to mentally capture everything you’re saying. It frees them up for higher-level thinking, like how they can take action on the health care recommendations you’ve made and make them work. For example, they may have concerns about timing medication administration given their work schedules or how much help their pet should be given when going up or down stairs. While some of that information may be covered in the handout, the fact that they’re actively thinking about their pet’s condition on their own terms improves the likelihood of the information being retained and complied with.
So, the next time you walk into an exam room, try thinking of your client as a learner. It might change what, when, where, and how you share your next pet health message.