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Seven ways to drive client awareness and usage of a branded veterinary practice app

By Sandra Siegel, DVM

Elevating pet care in a digital society
2 Black men walk a labrador retriever outside
There is a gap between owner expectations and veterinary practices' digital capability in our on-demand society. This reduces owner engagement and compliance when veterinary practices are busy and communication methods are time-consuming and outdated. Clients crave ease and personalization. The standard routine of calling a clinic, getting placed on hold, and then trying to sync schedules based on availability doesn't fit today's workflows.

Some veterinary practices have bridged this communication gap with an app. Perhaps your practice is one of them. Though having an app is a good first step, its success depends on your clients' need to adopt and use it. From the emotional to the logical, there are several persuasive tactics to try when bringing up your branded practice app in conversation.

1. Tap into their emotions

Obviously, pet owners want the best for their pets. A branded app makes doing business with you easier for them. You can promote the app as a way for clients to take better care of their pets. The ease of requesting prescription refills through the app helps to grow medication compliance. An app allows for digital engagement with the pet owner, so you can work with them remotely.

Easy access to all the tools they need can raise a pet owner's confidence that they are providing quality care for their pet.

2. Offer a better client experience

Other customer service industries have embraced the ease of tech, especially apps, to reach more customers. So should the veterinary industry. The right practice app should improve the pet owner's experience and offer answers from a source they trust — their veterinarian. With the help of an app, the pet owner and veterinarian can work together more seamlessly. Use the app to share post-procedure photos so customers owners can stay informed about their pet's health status. Technology makes staying engaged beyond the clinic walls easier.

3. Answer the question, 'what's in it for me?'

Today's consumers love loyalty programs. Eighty-five percent of millennials claim belonging to a loyalty program enhances their experience with a brand. And you may not think of your veterinary practice as a brand, but it is.

Enhanced loyalty programs improve client retention and increase revenue — a win-win for pet owners and your practice. Giving pet owners access to your customized loyalty program through an app gives them more visibility into their rewards while maintaining their bond with your practice. In-clinic promotions for add-on services and incentives to purchase from your pharmacy help to build a more loyal customer base. And knowing they can check their program status with a swipe makes them even more engaged with your offerings.

4. Consider the competition

Does a neighboring clinic have an app? Yes! Do you? If the answer is no, consider how that might affect how attractive your clinic is to potential newcomers. Apps fit with millennial and Gen Z customer service expectations in our digital-centric society. An American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) survey showed pet owners from those generations are the least likely to prioritize setting appointments by phone. They are also twice as likely to value access to 24-hour service, which is access a practice app can go a long way toward facilitating.

Yet, all veterinary practice apps have different designs. Most of the apps on the market are missing a key ingredient. The tech company that distributes them brands them — not the individual practices. An app branded to your practice creates a cohesive customer experience and encourages loyalty. Pet owners feel more connected to your practice when they recognize your logo and colors, photos of your clinic, and other familiar touchpoints inside the app.

5. Help them remember

Consider your pet owners' packed schedules. Without reminders, appointments can slip through the cracks easily. Owners can use a to-do feature to set reminders for themselves to administer medicine and perform other pet care tasks. This puts more autonomy and responsibility in the hands of pet owners and solidifies that they are doing what is best for their pet.

6. Encourage DIY culture

Pet owners can become frustrated by their inability to get through to the veterinary practice on the phone and prefer to self-serve for scheduling appointments. In human health, almost 73 percent of millennials and Gen Z prefer to book digitally versus over the phone. If they are doing this for themselves and have grown used to the convenience, then we may infer they would seek the same convenience for their pet.

Empowering pet owners to request appointments through an app reduces your staff's administrative workload. And it puts more autonomy and responsibility in the hands of pet owners.

7. Support integrated services

Their veterinarian isn't the only service provider who needs up-to-date vaccine records. In-app, shareable pet IDs make sending key information about their pet to groomers and boarders without having to contact your staff easy. Easy access to information that supports holistic care for pets puts care in the hands of their owners.

With the right usage, a branded veterinary practice app can help you go from frazzled because you can't reach pet owners to feeling a stronger connection with them. You can move from fielding requests that take away from revenue-generating activities to relieved you have more time for pet care. Clients, in turn, will have more of a stake in their pet's well-being. Together, you and your clients can use technology to create healthier futures for animals.

Connection at your fingertips

Looking for an app that builds stronger bonds with clients? Look no further than PetPage.