Chances are your smartphone’s home screen is so littered with apps that it obscures the picture of your kids at the beach. And wouldn’t you know it, your clients’ phones look the same. And with good reason: apps can be extremely useful, offering one-touch service to many different businesses. As much as apps help you out on a day-to-day basis, think about what they can do for your veterinary practice.
Before we get into the details, I want to speak to your analytical mind for a minute and talk numbers. It’s estimated that 77 percent of the United States population now owns a smartphone. Of that 77 percent, 86 percent of pet owners are very comfortable using apps, and most of those use at least one app in their daily lives. It might as well be your veterinary practice app that they’re accessing.
What Do Clients Want From a Veterinary Practice App?
In order to get your veterinary practice’s app on your clients’ smartphones, it’s important to understand what exactly those clients, and prospective ones, are looking for. In this digital age, it seems what most clients want to avoid is making an actual phone call — weird, considering how much time we spend on our phones, but oh well. With this in mind, most apps are based around clients getting answers and results without talking to your receptionist or technicians.
Check clinic details: This one can be really important for new or prospective clients as they might not be as familiar with the details. It seems that nobody wants to waste 10 precious minutes on a phone call finding out how late your clinic is open — an app can take care of that. An app is also a great way to give the location of your practice, as most apps can also provide step-by-step directions and maps from the client’s current location.
Schedule appointments: It sometimes may seem that the only time your clients remember that their cat needs vaccinations is in the middle of the night. Providing an app where they can make that appointment no matter where they are or what time it is has the potential not only to better serve your clients, but to bring more critters through your doors. Don’t make them wait to schedule an appointment until your receptionist is on duty, or they may never do it.
Make orders: Why do we wait until our pets are completely out of food or medication before buying more?. Apps can make it easier for your patients to get their paws on that prescription food or medication that they need more quickly and easily. Many veterinary practice apps are equipped with ordering capabilities that either ship the products straight to a client’s home or provide them at the clinic for an easy pickup.
Check veterinary records: You would be surprised to find out how many calls your clinic receives every day from clients wanting to know how old their pet is, when their birthday is, or what their weight was the last time they were in. These are simple questions that your clients can find by checking their pets’ medical records via your veterinary practice app. Medical records at their fingertips are also great to have when your patients travel or need emergency care from another clinic.
Rack up loyalty points: If your clinic offers loyalty points, whatever that may mean, your veterinary practice app is a great way to register, keep track of, and redeem those points. Maybe you offer a free bag of food for every six purchased or a free wellness exam for every X dollars spent. The app can keep track of all that for you and will help to incentivize your clients to spend more.
And even more: Post a weekly/monthly newsletter, advertise in-house specials, send reminders, or link important veterinary articles — the possibilities are endless and customizable with your very own veterinary practice app.
What Apps Can Do for You
You may still be wondering how having an app for your veterinary practice will benefit you, besides appeasing your customers. Well, let’s first look at it from a time management point of view. If the majority of your clients want an app to schedule appointments or to find out clinic hours, that frees up your receptionist for more office manager–type duties, possibly saving you money in the payroll department. If your app is handling the majority of prescription refill requests, your technicians may be able to focus more on helping the veterinarians.
Something we haven’t really hit on yet is marketing. As an example, certain apps allow for seamless integration into your practice’s social media. One specific app allows clients to take pictures of their critters, insert those pictures into a postcard formatted with your clinic’s information, and then share that picture on their social media, spreading the word of your fantastic services to their family and friends without you pushing a button or swiping anywhere.
An app can also help increase revenue via the number of visits it brings in. In a veterinarian’s day-to-day, it’s not uncommon to encounter a pet that hasn’t been vaccinated in several years. When asked why their animal hasn’t been kept up to date, most clients will say they simply forgot. It isn’t that they don’t care for their pet or that they feel vaccinations are pointless — they simply forgot. Help them remember with reminder notifications via your app. Remind them of an appointment, warn them that vaccinations are due, celebrate their pets’ birthdays, whatever. In this busy world, there aren’t many people who don’t appreciate a brief reminder.
If your veterinary practice is already on board with social media and online marketing, it’s time to step into the world of apps. Veterinary practice apps are easily customizable to best suit your clients and to better serve your patients. Give your clients what they’re asking for — handheld access to your clinic’s services that better fits into their busy schedule and way of life.