You need a Client Communication Coordinator
One new change at our practice that is 100 percent client-centric is the addition of a Client Communication Coordinator. If you're like us, you've noticed an explosion of requests for electronic communication, especially for medical record records from clients, referral practices, veterinarians who share a "mutual client" and, of course, taking in all of those records coming back into your practice from those other locations. But before we officially set up this new position, we talked through about some steps that needed to happen first:
You need to get rid of all those paper records—and do it now. On top of all of the other reasons electronic records are superior (storage, access, security, long-term protection), they are also a lot easier to send and receive.
You need a consistent email address—or several. And, remember, while it's nice to have email addresses associated with your website address—firstname.lastname@example.org—it works just as well to get a simple Gmail account. It takes about 45 seconds and it's free. I cringe whenever I ask for a clinic's email address only to hear they don't have one. Really? Give your doctors their own emails so they can communicate with clients—that is, IF you want to employ doctors under the age of 40.
Get rid of your fax machine. Replace it with an eFax account and encourage anyone who wants to fax you something to send it by email instead. When someone sends a fax to your eFax account, they don't need to know you don't have a real fax machine. What they send is converted into an email for you. You'll take back counter space from your old machine, stop spending money on print cartridges, eliminate the need for a dedicated phone line, and, best of all, if you're keeping electronic records, the faxed messages are already electronic.
1. Clients want to send pictures of something for their veterinarian to look at—a hot spot, hair loss or a video of odd behavior. Your Client Communication Coordinator routes those photos to the appropriate doctor.
2. Many practices, including mine, use third-party systems to set up online appointment requests and electronic communication of appointment reminders and confirmations. It's an amazing system, but it sometimes requires some human interaction ... by your Client Communication Coordinator.
3. Would some of your clients love it if they could get text messages when a pet was cleared to begin an anesthetized procedure, when a procedure started and ended, when a pet went to recovery, and when a pet was awake and upright? That's an incredible service to provide, but it takes a Client Communication Coordinator to manage.
4. If you board pets at your facility, how much would clients love to get a photo emailed or texted of their beloved family member while they're away? Clients who receive them from our Client Communication Coordinator are very thankful.
5. Who manages your practice's social media presence? Don’t HAVE a presence? Start writing your practice’s obituary ... or hire or promote your own Client Communication Coordinator. These days it’s vital to follow clients' favorite ways of communicating, and social media is king. You’ll get feedback about your practice, you’ll be able to share things clients want to know about your practice, and you’ll be able to use social messaging as one more way to avoid the telephone, which will one day be completely replaced as the primary form of communication with your clients.
The writing's on the wall—or, rather, the smartphone—that clients want to communicate with you in much different ways then they did 10 years ago. Now the ball is in your court to give them what they want.
Find the right person on your team (or hire, if you need to). You're looking for an expert on navigating email, posting on social media, and scanning and managing paperwork equipment. Then make this person your inaugural Client Communication Coordinator.
It's money well spent.