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5 ways to use text messaging for your veterinary practice or animal hospital

Nina Godlewski
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Running a veterinary clinic or an animal hospital is no easy task and customers have to put a great amount of trust in you to take care of their pets. That means two-way communication is paramount and so is reliability. Using business text messaging at your business can help promote both of those business values.

If you own a vet clinic, your goal is to make the business run more smoothly and one of the ways to do that is through adding business text messaging. It can help the logistics for your front-of-the-office staff and it can help improve the experience for your patients and customers as well.

Challenges veterinarian clinics and pet hospitals face

Working at a veterinary clinic or pet hospital comes with its challenges, especially since your patients can’t tell you what’s wrong or how they feel. You have to rely on communicating with the pet’s owners and that involves coordination and clarity.

Some challenges veterinary clinics and pet hospitals face:

  • Scheduling
  • Personal communication
  • Front desk coordination
  • Patients calling with questions
  • Safety precautions

5 ways to use text messaging to improve your veterinary clinic or animal hospital

There are a variety of ways to use business texting to help make your vet clinic or animal hospital run more smoothly. We’re going to cover some of the most common issues your clinic might face, and how you can add SMS to help make the experience better for your employees and for your patients and customers.

1. Determine whether a patient should come in

One of the most important things a vet or the receptionists at the vet’s office have to do is determine whether an animal needs to come in and be seen by the vet. When a customer calls worried about their pet, they want answers as soon as possible and mostly they want reassurance.

As a vet, your customers rely on you for your expertise in both high and low-stress situations. The fact that animals can’t say how they’re feeling or how much pain they’re in makes it difficult for their owners to determine how severe their condition might be. Having business SMS as part of this process can be immensely helpful because your customers can share photos of their pets to help show the problem in addition to explaining it. Plus, then you have a record of when they contacted and how the problem has progressed over time.

Your customers can even text to ask smaller questions like when they should be administering medication to their pet, or how many times a day they should be giving it. This can help reduce the call volume your front desk sees, leaving them available to do the many other tasks they have throughout the day. When non-urgent and smaller questions can be answered via text, this frees up your reception department to take care of the most urgent tasks first.

If MMS is the route a customer wants to take, the Animal Medical Center has a guide for pet owners to learn to take good quality photos of their pets when asking their vets questions about their care of an injury.

Their tips include being sure to take a close-up and a far-away photo, to show some perspective of the wound or injury. They also suggest being sure to focus the camera and labeling the photos properly so there is no confusion around when they were taken or what pet the photos are showing.

2. Schedule a visit

In any instance when it’s determined that an animal should come in for a visit you’ll want to be able to schedule that via SMS as well. Business texting can simplify scheduling significantly. You can text a customer and offer them available times and they can let you know which one they’d like.

They can also text you and ask if you’ve got an appointment during a certain time in the day or on a certain day of the week. Then you can schedule it, and send them an appointment reminder the day before too. Plus, if you have your customer and patient information saved you can then know who’s messaging you immediately and offer them personalized care.

Example of texting the vet to schedule an appt.
Use texting to determine whether a customer should bring their pet in for a visit.

3. Share photos of pets while in your care

Just like your customers can share photos with you, it can be helpful for you to share photos with your customers as well. It can be nerve-wracking and scary for pet owners to drop off their animals for a visit with the vet, especially if that visit involves a procedure or surgery or an overnight stay.

Updates in the form of SMS messages, in general, can go a long way in easing those anxieties. Letting a customer know when a procedure is done, how an animal is doing, and when they’ll be ready to go home can be a huge relief. Offering photos via MMS can take it a step further. This experience is great for customers and can be one of the parts of your business that keeps customers coming back repeatedly. In other words, this comforting experience can help increase your customer retention high.

Example of the vet sending photos of a pet via text
Use texting to update customers on their pet's condition while in your care.

4. Send checkup reminders

Just like you might send out appointment reminders via postcard or email, you can also send them by business text. The massive benefit to sending these reminders via SMS is that then your customers can answer immediately to schedule the necessary appointment.

SMS has a response rate of 45 percent, meaning there’s a 45 percent chance you can get that appointment scheduled right then and there. Then you can schedule a reminder message to help prevent no-shows. You might recognize these practices from any sort of medical office you have experience with. They likely employ similar tactics to help reduce their no-shows. While the animals you see as patients can’t text, their owners likely can!

Sending a vet checkup reminder via text
Use business SMS to schedule appointments.

5. Update customers on protocol

Any vet office has animals coming in the door and sitting in the waiting room on a regular basis. The health and safety of both customers, patients, and staff is all under consideration when coordinating visits and wait times.

If you have new safety requirements for illness, like with the COVID-19 pandemic, you can use SMS to limit the number of people in the waiting room at one time. You might also use texting to update customers on how they need to restrain their pets while in the waiting area, like if they need to bring their own leash for pets or have a certain crate or carrier for them.

You can also use SMS to update customers on waiting room protocol, and have your customers text when they arrive for an appointment. Then you can arrange for the vet or the tech to come outside and get the animal when they’re ready. This can also help reduce the anxiety animals feel while inside in waiting rooms. Studies show that 30 percent of dogs are highly stressed while in the waiting room, which can then make their visit more difficult. Allowing the dogs to wait outside or in the car with their owners instead can help make their visit less stressful and easier for you too. 

Updating customers on waiting room protocol via text
Use business text messaging to update customers on new protocol.

The bottom line: Using texting for your vet clinic

Reducing anxiety and stress around your entire veterinary practice can help you keep customers happy and animals calmer. You can use SMS in a number of ways throughout the entire process of scheduling an appointment with an animal or facilitating the animal’s visit to the office.

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