Email Address Collection: How to Improve the Efficiency of Your Veterinary Practice

by Ben Spinks / January 24, 2018

As a practice manager, you always have a long list of tasks and initiatives fighting for your attention. (I’ve touched on this in a couple of previous posts, including one on how to create a more manageable workload). One of the tools I like to use when attempting to prioritize such a list was conceived by Gary Keller and introduced in his book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.

Keller’s concept is simple. When you’re looking at a list of tasks or initiatives and trying to decide which to focus on first, whenever possible prioritize those that will make everything else on your list easier or, even better, unnecessary. That brings us to the topic of today’s post:

Collecting email addresses -- the more you collect, the bigger the pay-off Click To Tweet

This is a great example of Keller’s concept in action. As your team collects more and more email addresses, these efforts will have an ever-increasing and disproportionate impact throughout your veterinary practice. Take a look at how this impact could potentially add up:

 

More efficient appointment confirmations

1. More efficient appointment confirmations.

Every client email in your PIMS represents an opportunity for your team to eliminate an appointment confirmation phone call. There are plenty of great options available to automate your confirmation process using email and the time savings they offer can add up very quickly.

 

Post-visit surveys and online reviews

2. Post-visit surveys and online reviews.

Every client email represents an opportunity to solicit feedback. Surveying clients post-visit allows you to monitor your team’s performance and provides an early warning of client concerns before they snowball into bigger issues. An additional benefit is that most survey platforms automatically encourage happy clients to leave reviews online.

 

Quick and easy mass communication

3. Quick and easy mass communication.

Sometimes there are important messages that you need to send to your entire client base, for example, announcing new practice hours or welcoming a new DVM to your team. Email is probably the most efficient and cost-effective way to reach most of your clients at once.

 

Lower postage costs

4. Lower postage costs.

Not all clients respond to their first vaccine and treatment reminders, prompting veterinarian practices to send out second and sometimes third reminders. With the right platform and protocols in place, you can issue a first reminder to your clients by email and only mail postcard reminders to those who don’t respond, thereby reducing your postage costs.

 

More efficient follow-up communication

5. More efficient follow-up communication.

Having a valid email address for each client increases the efficiency of your team’s follow-up communication. Click To Tweet Instead of getting into a protracted game of phone-tag with a client, your team can leave a voicemail like the one below, and then pick up the conversation via email:

“Good evening, Mrs. Smith. This is Dr. Jones at Acme Veterinary Clinic. I was just calling to update you on Max’s test results. Overall his levels are looked good. One of our nurses is going to send you an email shortly with more details using the address we have on file. Once you receive that, if you have any questions, please give us a call at 555-1212. Thanks!”

What email collection percentage should your veterinary practice aim for?

When discussing email collection percentages during VetSuccess consults, I am frequently asked what a good collection percentage is. Based on my experience, most well-established practices shouldn’t have too much difficulty boosting their collection percentages into the mid- to high-80s. New practices tend to set a slightly higher bar; I like to see them maintain percentages in the 90s.

Two tips for improving your email collection rate

• Incentivize your team.

To get a jump start on collecting email or re-energize your existing collection initiative, consider incentivizing your team. One of my favorite methods involves providing your staff with a roll of raffle tickets. Every time someone collects a new email address or updates an existing address, they can write the client’s account number on the raffle ticket along with their initials. At the end of each week or during the next staff meeting, draw raffle tickets for small but fun prizes and rewards. This method (vs. awarding a prize based on who collects the most) keeps everyone “in the game” since the more a team member collects, the better chance they have at being rewarded and recognized for their efforts. After several weeks, you’ll find they’re automatically asking for and updating client emails.

• Finetune your pitch.

Here’s a tip I’ve found especially useful when collecting clients’ email addresses. Instead of articulating the request like this: “Would you like us to add an email address to your account?” encourage your team to use this wording: “Mrs. Smith, what’s the best email address for us to associate with Max’s medical records?” This subtle tweak incorporates two significant changes. First, the request focuses on which email address the client would like to provide, not on whether they would like to provide an address in the first place. Second, by referencing their pet’s medical records, I’ve found that many clients will mentally reframe the request from something associated with receiving marketing messages and spam to something that’s important and necessary for their pet’s health and wellbeing.

 

On a final note, are you familiar with RETRIEVER? It’s an automated email program that sends out a series of three professionally crafted emails to lapsing patients, encouraging them to schedule an appoint. Yet another reason to dial up your email collection rate!

Ben Spinks CVPM is the Hospital Administrator at Tipp City Veterinary Hospital and a veterinary practice consultant. He can be reached at bspinks@tippvet.com

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