You are an old fogey.
OK, maybe you’re not an old fogey yet, but you will be one day. And when you are, I want you to think back on the first time you rolled your eyes at your parents when they said the following things:
“Push button phone? Why would we need that? The rotary works fine.”
“Cordless phone? Why would we need that? This cord stretches pretty far.”
“Pager? I like being anonymous.”
“Cell phone? I have a pager.”
The point is, the relentless march of technology continues whether you want it to or not, and whether or not you want it to seems to rely pretty heavily on whether or not you are used to the old technology. It doesn’t matter. It’s going away. Remember ten years ago when no clinics used email and you still needed to send regular films to referral centers? And all your records came over fax, blurry and barely readable? I know there are people out there nodding and thinking about how great it was but trust me, your clients aren’t impressed when the oncologist is squinting at your chicken scratches and saying, “Just a few more minutes, I need to call them to check what they wrote here.”
It’s the same with apps, except even worse because this involves a front end technology that clients use. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether or not it’s more convenient for you to have clients call if they just don’t call. As people become more and more accustomed to interacting with businesses via online systems, you’re going to find that people don’t “train” themselves to call you- they just go somewhere else. It is that important to the next generation.
I am by no means a millennial, and even I, in my dotage, make business choices based on such conveniences. One of the main reasons I chose my hair salon is the ability to make online appointments, because the only time I remember I need a haircut is when I catch a glimpse of myself at 6 am, not mid-day when their phone lines are open. I actually end up going a lot more often since I can get the appointment made right when I am thinking of it. It’s a win-win.
Here’s another example: I once drove 25 minutes out of my way to go to a Panera because I was hungry but I didn’t want to interact with any humans, and they have an online app that allows me to order, park, grab my bag off a shelf, and leave with zero human contact. (I was having a very bad day.) Now, even on normal days, I use the app because it’s easy, and Panera gets four times more of my business than Chipotle because of it (well that and the food borne illness thing, but mostly the app.)
Granted, medical offices are more complex than hair salons and fast food restaurants, but that’s not the client’s problem, is it? If massive human health organizations can get 30 years of old health charts online and provide the ability for patients to message their practitioners and access records, they are going to see no reason why you can’t too. It may be a huge pain and it may not be your preferred thing to do, but if you’re really trying to set yourself apart from other practices when attracting new clients who think you probably all practice decent medicine, that will very likely be a deciding factor.
Little changes go a long way- even if you’re not ready to dismantle your entire records system and go full Star Trek, that doesn’t mean you can’t take some baby steps to prove to your team- and your clients- that you are committed to thinking ahead. We spoke to Danielle Lambert, practice manager and owner of SnoutSchool.com, to get some easy tips for getting the your team on board with change, and here’s what she said:
Danielle’s Surefire Steps To Getting Your Team on Board with a Mobile Strategy
- Survey your clients to ask them how they like to communicate, eg: via phone, text, email, social media, etc. Having this solid data will help the analytical members of your veterinary team “get” why a mobile strategy is worth them buying into. (Tip: I include this question on our check-in sheets so I can get continuous feedback, but SurveyMonkey.com is a free site where you can create a survey to push out via email, text and social media in a pinch!)
- Have a conversation with your veterinary team about how they communicate with their favorite brands. Do they follow a restaurant they like on Facebook? Does their hairdresser text them to confirm their appointment? This will put them in the mindset of a client, aiding them in seeing why a mobile strategy is important.
- Identify team members who are going to be affected by the strategy you’re planning to implement, and empower them to be involved in the process! Asking your CSRs, “Can you think of texts we should send clients to confirm their appointments? What should we include in that?” is a lot more likely to get support than, “I wrote these text messages, and we’re sending them because I say so.” Not only that, but they’ll likely think of things you forgot.
- Check in frequently with your team after launching any changes to your mobile strategy to get their feedback. Making your team feel like an important part of improving and evaluating your mobile plans will ensure they’re on board with the changes!
Jessica Vogelsang is a San Diego veterinarian with Paws into Grace and the creator of the popular website pawcurious.com. Her writing is regularly featured on outlets such as dvm360, Vetstreet, and petmd. Her debut memoir All Dogs Go to Kevin is available in bookstores, online, and as an ebook from all major book retailers. For more information about the book and Dr. Vogelsang, visit drjessicavogelsang.com.