A Beginners Guide to Veterinary Appointment Scheduling
Imagine this – it’s flu season, and many concerned pet parents flock to your veterinary office. Your veterinary clinic is understaffed, and you have a lot on your plate. Pet owners with no prior veterinary appointment demand your attention.
Your front desk is swamped with angry customers; many clients claim they have prior bookings. The team is doing its best to ensure every patient gets to see the doctor. However, some impatient clients walk out and leave unflattering reviews about your services on social media. What a nightmare that would be, right?
How do you avoid such chaos in the office? A sound scheduling system for veterinary appointments is key to maintaining an organized and efficient workspace. With a proper veterinary appointment scheduling system, you can ensure all pet owners with appointments are given attention.
This blog will cover the benefits of having veterinary appointment scheduling software. It also serves as a guide for veterinary professionals’ appointment scheduling. What should a veterinary practice consider when looking for a partner in scheduling appointments?
Establish Standard Protocols for Scheduling Appointments
So how can your veterinary practice take the first step in smoothing out the scheduling process? First, for your practice to remain organized you should train every clinic member. You want your team to be ready with answers to common questions. Even if a team member isn’t handling the front desk, that person should be trained on standard protocols and processes. This will ensure everyone is prepared to maintain an appointment flow and effective patient communication.
A great way to train your staff to handle a steady flow of appointments is by providing a script. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients. What do they usually ask when scheduling appointments a vet appointment? What information do you need to provide clients with proper care?
Before anything else, it’s important you start the conversation on a respectful note. “Thank you for reaching out to our clinic. We looking forward to serving you” is a nice way to begin any discussions. Then, your staff should ask vital questions, such as the following:
- What symptoms does your pet have?
- Is your pet up-to-date on vaccinations?
- When was the last time your pet had a physical exam?
If the client is interested in a grooming session for their pets, you should ask them relevant questions too such as:
- What type of breed is your pet?
- What is their size and weight?
- Any special requests for their haircut?
- Would you be interested in a premium package that includes scented shampoo? Or hair accessories?
The Different Types of Online Scheduling
Firstly, try to create categories for time-specified scheduling or have a flow scheduling system. What is a flow scheduling system, you may be wondering? This is a strategy that details how long an appointment would usually ask, depending on its nature. Flow scheduling is great for minimizing waiting time and maintaining a steady flow of patients.
There are different types of scheduling software your practice can choose from. Also called time-specified scheduling, fixed appointment scheduling is a method wherein each patient is given a separate and specific appointment time.
Meanwhile, wave scheduling involves assigning patient appointments simultaneously. With this system, two or more patients arrive at the start or designated time slot, and the others arrive at the end of the hour. Double booking is similar to a wave schedule. However, two or more patients are accommodated simultaneously because the clinic can attend to multiple patients simultaneously.
For example, you should allot an hour for standard grooming with no inclusions. Meanwhile, an annual physical exam would usually last two to three hours. Having a flow schedule helps clients plan their day accordingly.
Benefits of Online Booking
Investing in veterinary appointment scheduling software can do wonders for your veterinary clinic. Here are some reasons why veterinary appointment scheduling is so effective nowadays:
- More appointments booked – An appointment scheduling system allows you to cater to more patients and easily handle last-minute cancellations. More incoming clients mean more revenue for your veterinary practice.
- Free Up Staff By Reducing Calls – Talking to different pet owners for appointment scheduling can take hours of valuable person-hours. Your team can provide better services when they use their time more efficiently.
- Organized Calendar for Staff and Patients – With an automated system, both staff and patients receive notifications on an appointment. This allows them to plan for the meeting in advance.
- Reduce No Shows and Late Clients – Time is money, and you can provide service to a readily available patient with a plan. This way, your doctors can maximize their office hours with less downtime.
These are only some of the benefits practices can enjoy by procuring an efficient system for appointment scheduling. Everyone in the veterinary clinic can make the most of the time.
Virtual Waitlist for Veterinary Appointments
A system for veterinary appointment scheduling allows your veterinary practice to have its own virtual waitlist. This feature will enable customers to receive notifications for last-minute cancellations and openings. This way, they can secure an appointment for their pet at an earlier time.
What’s great about virtual waitlists is that patients who need your service can secure a vet appointment sooner than later. Simultaneously, your staff can maximize their time by attending to patients needing their services. You don’t need to message every patient one by one to fill up an available time slot.
Moreover, nobody really enjoys going to a veterinary office and waiting long hours. The virtual waitlist help you set expectations on how long they need to wait so clients can maximize their time accordingly. This also means your staff won’t have to deal with impatient clients who demand your attention.
Best of all, virtual waitlists can increase customer satisfaction. Being organized with your scheduling and mindful of your patient’s time will help pet parents view your practice in a positive light. Their good experience may lead to recommendations to other pet owners, meaning more customers and revenue for your clinic.
Online Check-in for Veterinary Appointments
Not only does having an appointment schedule software help you attend to client bookings, but it also allows a client to check in ahead of time. Having multiple patients swamp your front desk can overwhelm your staff. Some patients might not be attended to swiftly.
An online check-in feature allows patients to complete the necessary documents before arriving at your office. This lessens your paper trail and makes filing documents much easier and faster. Not only is this good for the environment, but automizes repetitive work as well. Your staff can focus on more pertinent matters rather than encoding customer data.
Patient Communication Tips to Try
While having an efficient protocol for scheduling an appointment is excellent, you should also teach your staff proper communication when assisting patients. Why? Every client visit can lead to a possible review of your veterinary practice.
Aside from the services you offer, clients may become inclined to discuss their experiences with booking appointments. You want to provide the best customer service possible, which is why every communication with your practice matters.
With a little strategy, you can ensure pet parents and their furry family members have a positive experience at your practice. Here are some tips you should follow:
- Acknowledge every view. Regardless if the review is flattering, you should acknowledge every one of them.
- Thank patients for their positive reviews. Vocalize your appreciation for the kind words they said about your office.
- Apologize and take responsibility for any negative reviews. For example, if an appointment is overbooked, you should acknowledge your error and make amends with that customer.
- Offer discounts when applicable. Encourage patients to book more appointments with your practice by offering them discounts or vouchers.
- Leave space in between appointments for emergencies. You shouldn’t book every single time slot. There should be leeway for possible emergency appointments.
Send Patients Appointment Reminders
Once your patients have their appointment set, the staff is trained on the best scheduling appointments, and your practice has an efficient online booking system; you should also send patients reminders.
There should be a system so patients receive reminders about their upcoming appointment in the best method possible. Give patients the option if they want to have their appointment reminders sent via text, email, or phone.
Fortunately, online booking systems offer these types of services and more. You can provide your patients with a convenient way to book appointments and equip your staff with a strategy to make work easier.
More than a veterinary appointment scheduling software
We at iMatrix can provide you with the proper tools for online booking and beyond. For more information on what other aspects should be included in your strategy, call 800.792.8384 or click here.