We’re not going to start out by doing what many veterinary blogs do and jump right into how to convert more calls into new clients. Instead, we’ll begin by acknowledging a truth related to veterinary stress.
As busy as many (or most) veterinary teams are, the sound of a ringing phone may not always be the most welcome sound to your front-office staff. Indeed, at a time when many practices are short-staffed and turning patients away, the idea of converting more calls into new clients may feel unnecessary or even unwanted. Therefore, we understand if your first reaction to this blog is, “Why the blazes would I want to read a blog about how to convert more calls into clients?”
Yet here’s the truth, whether you choose to read this blog or not.
Pet owners are still going to call, and many don’t understand or care how busy veterinary practices are. All they know is that they have a pressing need, and how their calls are handled factors into whether they walk away feeling valued and satisfied or feel compelled to complain either directly to front-office staff or followers on social media. Complaints naturally cause stress, and no practice team needs more of that—and that’s the why behind reading this blog.
Yes, every call your veterinary practice receives from a prospective client potentially represents thousands in lifetime value from examinations, treatments, medication refills, pet food sales, and more, plus untold additional revenue from referrals. So, to continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive veterinary market, knowing how to convert more calls into new clients naturally represents a valuable front-office skill to increase practice profitability. Yet within this, the practices of call conversion effectively contain stress management practices in that they contain some essential tools to help minimize caller issues that may become complaints. So, let’s dig in. (Insert fork emoji here.)
To help convert more calls into new clients (and manage caller satisfaction, to boot), here are three best front-office practices:
1. Ask for a Caller’s Name
Forbes recently wrote, “No one walks away from a transaction saying, ‘I love that company and will definitely buy from them again because they treated me like a number!’” People do business with companies (and tend to become advocates) when they’re treated like people, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to ask for a caller’s name—and the name of their pet—and use it during a conversation (without overdoing it).
“A name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs.”— Henry David Thoreau
Simultaneously, using a potential client’s name reflects favorably on your entire practice. As noted by SalesFuel, “Just by saying someone’s name, you appear more empathetic and caring in his or her eyes”—qualities that pet owners want when it comes to the care of their furry family members.
2. Minimize Wait Time for Callers on Hold
For callers on hold, Tom Petty said it best. The waiting is the hardest part, and most callers aren’t willing to wait for long. According to Velaro, almost 60% of people will hang up after one minute on hold. So, if you can’t immediately speak with a potential new client, take their call as soon as possible.
Along with this:
- Ask permission before placing a caller on hold. Rather than saying something abrupt like “Happy Paws Animal Clinic,” phrase a greeting in a form that asks for permission, such as, “Happy Paws Animal Clinic. Do you mind if I put you on hold for a minute?” Then wait for their reply. Callers may not like being on hold. Yet a small consultation prior to putting them on hold lets them know you’re considerate of their feelings and helps minimize wait-time impatience for potential new clients because they’ve chosen to be on hold.
- Check back with potential new clients on hold within a specific amount of time to let them know they haven’t been forgotten. If a long wait time is unavoidable, apologize to callers for the continued hold and give them options like continuing to hold or calling back later. Then thank them for their understanding. Consideration and respect can go far in ensuring they walk away feeling good, which encourages them to call back.
3. Ask for the Appointment
Marketers convert people to clients by asking them to take an action (e.g., “Click here to order”), and the same principle applies to veterinary practices.
By virtue of calling, a prospective client naturally has interest in your practice. So, after you’ve determined whether your practice can serve a client and their pet, ask them if they’d like to book an appointment (unless of course it’s an emergency).
If a pet owner is seeking a diagnosis over the phone, “Don’t make the mistake of simply telling pet owners, ‘We can’t diagnose over the phone,’” writes VetFolio. “What the caller really wants is meaningful information and, in many instances, some empathy.” So, ask questions about their pet and symptoms, which demonstrates your practice’s empathy, then segue into something like, “I wish I could tell you something over the phone, but really, the best option is to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian. After an examination, she can tell you what she thinks is going on with your pet.” Then schedule an appointment.
If someone can’t immediately do so and you have a Plus or Pro WebDVM website, explain to the potential new client that they can easily make an online appointment directly from your practice website once they’re ready. This convenience, which most pet owners now want, gives callers an easy open door to your practice after the call has ended, frees them from stress and worry over how to reach you, and saves time for busy practices.
To further save practices time and increase efficiency while serving pet owners, the advanced forms bundled with WebDVM Plus and Pro include:
- New Client Registration
- Contact Us
- Boarding Request
- Prescription Refill
- Food Order Request
- Curbside History Collection
- Up to three custom forms for your practice