A beauty salon, restaurant, or hairdresser – when you walk through a shopping area, you might not realise it, but these businesses have a lot in common with your veterinary practice. In essence, all service providers. The service delivered may be different, but the challenges are the same.
Businesses such as these are expert planners. A hairdresser is always busy, and demand is always constant; hair grows and needs cutting. Yet you rarely see salons overflowing with long queues – at most, perhaps a few people waiting. And even if you drop in for an ad-hoc haircut, you’re sometimes in luck!
So what’s the hairdresser’s secret? How do they manage high demand and customer satisfaction? It’s all about their extra focus on the first phase of the customer journey – the customer’s path to buy a product or service. To balance good planning and customer experience, two things are essential:
- Knowledge of appointment duration. It must be clear in advance how long an appointment will last. A haircut with a colour treatment takes longer than just a simple cut. It’s all about expectation management.
- Minimisation of missed appointments. Although inevitable, missed appointments waste time and money – do what you can to avoid them.
More and more hairdressers are using tools that positively contribute to the customer experience and improve customer communication. For example, many hairdressers now offer the option of online appointment booking via a website or app. Customers can choose basic appointment details such as the date and time and specifics such as styling options or which hairdresser. Additionally, confirmations are sent automatically via email or text message with a calendar event and reminder. At the hairdresser’s, these tools are linked to a software package, similar to Animana, with which hairdressers can manage appointments fully automatically or with just a few clicks and inform and remind clients (automatically) in the process.
A tailored customer experience for the veterinary practice
We all want to be professional planners with a diary filled with appointments yet enough space to allow unexpected events and breaks.
In another article, we have already compared a practice agenda to a line of dominoes – if something goes wrong with a single appointment, it can upset the rest of the day. Of course, appointments can run late, but it’s even more annoying when they do so at the start of the day. Therefore, just like a hairdresser, it is essential to understand customers’ reasons for visiting and their expectations.
Making an appointment
Your customers know how to call you for an appointment, and when they do, you’re able to triage and offer times for an appointment. Industries such as hairdressers have taken this a step further and embraced online booking, and increasingly more of their bookings are made this way. Animana has an Online Booking integration, which allows pet owners to book an appointment at your practice 24/7. You define where, when and for which type of appointments owners can schedule an appointment in your agenda. In other words, you remain in control of your practice’s agenda.
After a customer has made an appointment, you expect them to be prepared and arrive on time. You can already send an appointment reminder from within Animana by email or an SMS text message manually, but if you wish, Online Booking can do this fully automated. An appointment made via an Online Booking will automatically receive a confirmation email and a separate reminder email on the day of the appointment.
Familiar customer experience
You may think that online booking doesn’t sound like a good fit for your practice, but bear in mind how much has changed over the last couple of years. Your customers are already accustomed to creating online appointments, orders, and service demands, whether a hairdresser appointment, an addiction to Amazon, ordering a pizza, or booking a car in for service.
Your customers are already familiar with a digital customer experience (and are probably already expecting it!), so isn’t it time your veterinary practice is cut out for it!
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