A Beginner’s Guide to Veterinary Appointment Scheduling

Imagine this: It’s’ flu season, and many concerned pet parents flock to your veterinary office. Your 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?

Veterinary office waiting room

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 are given attention when making appointments.

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 seeking a partner to schedule appointments?

Establish Standard Protocols for Scheduling Appointments

So, how can your veterinary practice take the first step in smoothing the scheduling process? First, you should train every clinic member to keep your practice organized. 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?

team hands in

Before anything else, you must start the conversation on a respectful note. “Thank you for reaching out to our clinic. We look forward to serving you” is an excellent way to begin 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? 
  • Are there 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 Vet Appt Scheduling

Firstly, create categories for time-specified scheduling or have a flow scheduling system. What is a flow scheduling system? This strategy details how long an appointment usually takes, depending on its nature. Flow scheduling is excellent 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

online booking scheduling software

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Free Up Staff By Reducing Calls—Talking to different pet owners for appointment scheduling can take valuable person hours. Your team can provide better services when they use their time more efficiently.
  3. Organized Calendar for Staff and Patients—An automated system allows staff and patients to receive notifications when an appointment is scheduled. This allows them to plan for the meeting in advance.
  4. Reduce No Shows and Late Clients—Time is money, and with a plan, you can provide service to a readily available patient. This way, your doctors can maximize their office hours with less downtime.
  5. Better Experience for Clients—Investing in veterinary appointment scheduling can make it easier for pet owners to book appointments with your clinic whenever they want. They can even schedule a visit after office hours to book an appointment at their convenience.

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 Appointment Scheduling

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, enabling them to 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 rather than later. Your staff can maximize their time by attending to patients needing their services simultaneously. You don’t need to message every patient one by one to fill out an available time slot.

Moreover, nobody really enjoys going to a veterinary office and waiting long hours. The virtual waitlist helps you set expectations on how long clients need to wait so they 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. 

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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 it also automizes repetitive work. Your staff can focus on more pertinent matters rather than encoding customer data.

Patient Communication Tips to Try

picture of hands and pet paws

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 your services, clients may become inclined to discuss their experiences with booking appointments. You want to provide the best customer service possible, so 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:

  1. Acknowledge every review. Regardless if the review is flattering, you should acknowledge every one of them.
  2. Thank patients for their positive reviews. Vocalize your appreciation for the kind words they said about your office.
  3. 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.
  4. Offer discounts when applicable. By offering discounts or vouchers, encourage patients to book more appointments with your practice.
  5. Leave space between appointments for emergencies. You shouldn’t’ book every time slot; there should be leeway for possible emergency appointments.
  6. Lead with kindness. Be mindful of your tone even while communicating with clients online. You should educate them on the best ways to care for their pet kindly.
  7. Be transparent. If you want your patients to trust you, you must be transparent. Acknowledge your shortcomings. Everyone makes mistakes occasionally, but what matters is how you deal with these instances.

Send Patients Appointment Reminders

Once your patients have their appointments set, the staff is trained on the best scheduling practices, 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 appointments in the best method possible. Patients should be given the option 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.

A Script to Help Patients Set Appointments Quickly

Most veterinary appointment scheduling systems have a script to ensure you collect vital information from clients. Here are some critical pieces of information you need for your reference:

  • What type of veterinary care do you require?
  • Have you visited our clinic before?
  • Can you provide us with the following information (as the booking software needs)?
  • Has your pet seen another vet, and if so, can we get their details?

Don’t forget to ask for their contact information, address, pet’s name, gender, breed and age.

Minimize Last-Minute Cancellations and Double Bookings

Your business can lose money due to no-shows, but online scheduling can help minimize potential losses. You should ensure your veterinary scheduling software sends appointment reminders and alerts to all booked appointments.

Moreover, it would help if you had a virtual waitlist so other pet parents can schedule an appointment if the pre-booked one cancels.

More than a veterinary appointment scheduling software

We at iMatrix can provide you with the proper tools for online booking and other services. For more information on what other aspects should be included in your strategy, call 800.792.8384 or click here.

Author: Liliana Cervantes

Liliana Cervantes is iMatrix’s resident content specialist who works on all our online blog resources. She provides the iMatrix website with high-quality content to provide our readers with plenty of information to educate and inspire them with their digital marketing efforts. Liliana writes about tips and trends for readers to try on social media, their website, and their own blog content.

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