What Millennial Pet Parents are Searching for in a Veterinary Practice
I am a millennial pet parent who moved across the country less than a year ago. I have 2 cats: Sierra, who is almost 13 years old, and Opal who is 5. They are both due for their annual exams soon, which means I had to find a veterinarian in my new neighborhood. Sierra and Opal have gone to the same great animal clinic since they were born, so this was a stressful, time-consuming decision to make. As a millennial, I like to do my research online using reviews, social media and websites as my main sources of information. Following is the story of how I approached finding a new veterinarian for my fur babies.
A feline-friendly practice was the only viable option
My older cat Sierra has always been the kind of cat who only likes her pet parent – me. And I mean ONLY me. The last time I took her to the vet, she screamed louder than I’ve ever heard, while hiding in the corner of the exam room. She ended up having to be sedated (sorry technicians)! Sierra absolutely hates leaving the comfort of my bedroom at home, and quite frankly, hates anyone who is not me. This means, that in my case, finding a feline-friendly or feline-only animal hospital was crucial. My goal was to make sure that my cat’s annual exam goes as smoothly as possible. When researching clinics, I looked for hospitals that only work with cats, Click To Tweet practices that have a separate entrance for cats, and/or practices that use Feliway diffusers or towels. I wanted to ensure that my new veterinarian cares about the comfort of my cat, just as much as I do.
Using websites and reviews to choose a veterinarian
Once I narrowed down my search to those clinics that I felt would provide the best experience for my cat, I then browsed their websites and read their reviews. We millennials have grown up with such easy access to the Internet, that good reviews and an updated website are must-haves. The reviews don’t need to be perfect, but a good number of reviews and a decent overall score shows me that a clinic is consistently providing a great experience Click To Tweet for their clients.
Primarily, I checked out Google and Facebook reviews. Google reviews show up immediately when searching for a clinic. Looking at Facebook reviews also allowed me to view the clinics’ Facebook pages. What caught my attention most? It’s important to me that they’re active on social media. I also wanted to see if they post interesting information and how they interact with their clients online.
When choosing a new veterinarian, an updated and user-friendly website is a deciding factor for me. The website should load quickly, it should have nice pictures that are unique to the practice (not stock photos), and I should easily and quickly be able to learn about the practice and its’ doctors.
Communication channels and options are priority
As a millennial, I feel very comfortable texting, emailing and messaging. It is a huge plus when a veterinary practice allows me to communicate with them in ways that I am most comfortable with, as opposed to always having to pick up the phone. I don’t want to HAVE to pick up the phone. I am always messaging with my friends and family, so I love having the option to text my veterinarian!
A website chat feature or Facebook messaging makes it so much easier for me to ask quick questions. If there’s an email address on the website or a form to fill out to request a new appointment, I like having those communication options as well.
Most importantly, great customer service is also something I am looking for when searching for a new veterinarian. I want to feel welcomed and understood when speaking with anyone at the clinic.
Poor communication turned me off in my search for a new vet
I was really put off by lack of communication options and poor client service when I reached out to some veterinary hospitals. Here are a couple of examples:
I found a clinic with rave reviews that was near my house. On their website, there was a form to “Schedule an Exam.” I filled out the form, providing my name, email address and reason for requesting an exam. The next day, I received an email that said, “Please call 360-695-____ to schedule.” There was no signature on the email or anything personal at all. In my head, I was thinking, “Well then, why did you give me the option to fill out a form online?!” While this clinic had great reviews, I did not like the lack of communication options and chose to continue my search.
I called a clinic nearby, which also had great reviews and the woman who picked up the phone said, “Hold on just one second.” She then continued her conversation with someone in the background, while I was waiting on the line hearing everything they were saying. After about 15 seconds, she stated her name and asked what she could do for me. Based on the first 15 seconds of our phone call, I did not feel welcomed or as though my needs would be cared for. There are many veterinary hospitals out there, and since I had a poor first impression, I decided to turn to another hospital.
Here’s how to make a great first impression on a potential millennial client
Having communication options so that I can choose the channel that I’m most comfortable with really works for me! I also place a lot of value on good first impressions. Here’s the story of how and why I chose my new veterinarian:
I found a feline-friendly practice with good reviews that had an online “Request an Appointment” form. I filled out the form providing my information. The next day, I received a call from a number not in my contacts, which I did not answer (I usually don’t pick up when an unfamiliar number calls). I listened to the voicemail, and it was the clinic letting me know they received my request and provided several options for appointment times in the next week. I also got an email, detailing out the same information left in the voicemail. I enjoyed this touch, because I was then able to choose the method of communication that I felt most comfortable with. I chose to call the clinic back and spoke to a woman who was extremely warm and helpful.
When choosing a new veterinarian to take my fur babies to, I had many options and I wanted to make sure I made the right decision. I based my decision on first impressions and online presence. I wanted to make sure that my new veterinarian would provide a good experience for my fussy cat, that they are trusted by other people in the area, that their website is up-to-date and that I could communicate in multiple ways.