Text Messaging for Veterinary Practices.

There are over 90,000 professionally active veterinarians in the United States and approximately 85 million homes with pets. Competition is stiff for vet practices, especially now. So many families adopted pets during quarantine, but 30 accredited U.S. vet schools only graduate around 3,000 new veterinarians a year. For vets to maintain and grow their practices, they need the magic touch with animals and their pet parents. And perhaps the biggest reason people stay with a vet is that they provide excellent customer service.

a person petting a dog

From being greeted warmly upon arrival to speedy checkout and more, SMS can revolutionize your client interactions. And by engaging Appointible to handle the brunt of the work, you will free up time to work with pets and their humans more effectively. With a robust text messaging platform, you can:

  • Share lab and other test results

  • Text one on one with owners regarding their pet

  • Take prescription refill requests, food orders, and more

  • Send appointment reminders

  • Support an emergency text hotline where owners can ask questions after-hours.

  • Streamline billing and payment

Investing in text messaging is an easy way to improve client experiences with your clinic. Read on to learn more about how clinics can take full advantage of what Appointible has to offer and to see examples of real-world applications.

Best practices in veterinary text messaging

There are a multitude of ways veterinary practices can use SMS to their advantage, and probably even some we haven’t even thought of! Here are some of the most popular and common uses of text messaging:

Streamline billing and payments

Imagine the time you will save with an automated billing and payment system! Procedures and medication can be automatically billed when they are performed, and all the client has to do is click a link to pay. This will eliminate congestion at the desk, saving time for everyone, from the clients to your receptionist.

On top of that, it gives your customer a digital record of their pet’s visit. Especially during COVID, when most clinics see your pet without you, this is really important for both contactless payments and establishing connections with your human clients.

An example of a billing message would be:

“Urban Veterinarians: Thank you for coming in today, Stacy. Please use the link below to pay your invoice. Let us know if you have any questions. Thank you!”

Send appointment reminders

Missed appointments plague everyone in the service industry. But in a field where being able to get an appointment is increasingly a challenge, a 9% no-show rate can be a matter of life and death for the animals under your care. One no-show a day takes valuable appointment slots away from emergency clients, costs you money, and increases stress.

Instead of an old-school veterinary reminder card, sending text reminders, complete with a way to confirm or reschedule appointments, can help. Imagine being able to fit an emergency client into that canceled visit slot or contacting someone on your waiting list for surgery. Your practice will become more efficient and your clients will be happier.

A sample appointment reminder is:

“Cool Cat Vets: Your appointment is confirmed for today at 3:00 PM.”

Stop playing phone tag

Give your clients the news they need in a timely manner. Up to 90% of customers don’t answer their phones at all, and your clinic is a busy place. Stopping what you’re doing to play phone tag takes valuable time, and hiring someone just to handle telephone calls is a waste of money. Instead, use your text messaging service to have those important conversations when it’s convenient for you and your clients.

Make it easy to ask questions and give answers

Sometimes pet parents need to ask questions after hours. Whether their dog has been spayed or their cat had teeth pulled, concerns can pop up in the middle of the night. Knowing whether something is a true emergency or just normal complications will ease their minds. If their initial text doesn’t tell you what you need to know, you can ask for clarification or even a picture. Conversely, texting is also a non-intrusive way of checking on your furry patients. You can send a post-surgery message that your clients can answer at their leisure.

Increase your reviews

In the grand scheme of running a thriving veterinary practice, reviews seem like the last thing you want to worry about. But small businesses can gain an $8,000 average increase in revenue when they use review sites like Yelp and Google Reviews. You can even compile reviews on your website. Just put a link in a “thank you for choosing us” text message to make it easier for owners to leave a review.

Create a contactless check-in experience

Just like you can provide invoices and accept payments via SMS to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, you can also automate the check-in process for your patients. Especially if you’re using curbside check-in, your clients can click on a link in their confirmation message to let you know they have arrived and give you the number of their parking spot. This keeps crowds out of your waiting area and frees up your staff from having to constantly answer the phone.

Getting started with text messaging for your veterinary practice

There are many text messaging services out there, and picking the one that works for you can be daunting. Make sure to research and choose the service that offers all the specific functions that you need for your practice. By selecting the best fit for you and your clients, you will save time and money once everything is set up.

Choose a phone number

Your first step when setting up an Appointible account is deciding what kind of phone number is best for you. We have three phone number options with Appointible. You can choose a phone number with a local area code, which is the best option for having two-way conversations with your clients. If you would rather have a phone number that is geography-neutral, then choose a 1-800 toll-free number.

Or, we can connect your current number to our services. This would text-enable your current landline or VoIP number. You will still be able to receive calls, and all texts will be sent to the Appointible platform. Your customers can use the same number they are already familiar with, which will avoid confusion.

Add users

Every Appointible account can have unlimited users. You can set permissions for each unique user, so you can designate and/or limit everyone’s access. For instance, your receptionist can deal with appointment confirmations and reminders, your on-call vet tech can handle after-hours general questions, and you or your partners can deal with emergency texts.

Publicize your number and texting availability

Make sure all your current and future clients know about your new text message service! Here are some ways to publicize the change.

Update your listings on Yelp, Google, and other review sites.

Add a click button to your website.

Update your existing “contact us” form by including the options to send a text message or schedule an appointment via text.

Set up SMS reminders

Setting up bulk SMS reminders is a great way to start your texting service. Announce weather and holiday closures, send out seasonal health and safety reminders, and more. Rather than being client-specific, these announcements will benefit all pet owners.

Use keywords to increase efficiency

Keywords may seem like something you don’t need to worry about. After all, you’re a vet, not a web designer. But keywords are like magic! They can route your incoming messages to the right person or trigger the right return message in case you use auto-responders.

Does texting for veterinary practices work?

You like the idea of texting owners for everything from appointment confirmations to surgery updates? Taking the strain off your staff while making communication with clients easier is appealing, as is the ability to designate tasks. But do you really need a text messaging service like Appointible?

Texting is the major communication method of the era. Remember that statistic about how 90% of people just don’t answer their phones? Well, 90% of people also report that they look at a text message within three minutes of receiving it. Your text message stands a much better chance of getting through than a phone call ever will. Some more data about the efficacy of text messaging for business include:

  • 70% of customers would rather text for information and scheduling than make a phone call.

  • Text messages have a 7.5x higher response rate than emails because people actually open 98% of their texts compared to email.

Add to that the convenience of text messaging and the privacy it offers compared with a phone call, and you have a perfect recipe for success.

How can Appointible help?

You’ve decided to take the leap into the wonderful world of business texting. Outsourcing your texting needs to Appointible gives you a one-stop-shop for everything you could possibly need to integrate text messaging into your business plan. Appointible offers bulk messaging, two-way messaging, templates for your messages, long messages up to 900 characters, multiple user access, and integration, among other features.

Setting up a plan is easy. Visit our plans and pricing page to sign up for your 30-day free trial. You don’t have to provide us with a credit card number for your free trial, and there are never any commitments or contracts. Once you start using our services, you can change or cancel your plan at any time. So visit our site for your free trial today.

Final thoughts

Text messaging for business purposes is still a new frontier. Take a chance that will benefit your veterinary practice. Incorporating text messaging into your business plan will streamline client interactions and paperwork, ease the stress on you and your staff, and increase human client satisfaction.

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