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The case for veterinary client communication platforms

By Jason Wernli, Scott Harper

Maximizing patient outcomes, client satisfaction, client retention, and practice growth
Female doctor at computer in office

Good relationships drive the success of your veterinary practice. Interactions between your veterinary team and pet-loving families make exceptional animal health possible for the millions of veterinary patients who cannot speak for themselves.

Value of strong veterinary client communication

Unlike a business that sells a product, veterinary medicine is a service profession, in which proactive client communication both educates and reminds people about the practitioner-recommended care their pets need.

Nobody expects your veterinary team members to remember everything about every patient and who needs what next. Instead, you can leverage  to automate routine connections that keep practices humming and patients healthy. Let these tools maintain personal connections and inform your conversations with clients so that you can educate, satisfy, and retain them — and take the best care of their companion animal family members.

Common communication challenges

Gaps and misunderstandings often stem from the difference between what veterinary practices feel they should communicate to clients and what veterinary clients need you to tell them. When certain core vaccines moved from annual administration to a three-year timeline, people easily lost track of vaccination schedules, especially in homes with multiple pets.

Or, a veterinary practice may have instituted new online medical history forms that are easier to complete versus scribbling on a clipboard at check-in. Veterinary client communication systems can improve both of those scenarios, raising client compliance and satisfaction at the same time.

How it works: The veterinary client communication system automatically emails or texts clients when specific pets come due for vaccinations. Bonus points if you also configure it to scour practice data for all pets in that same household.

In the second scenario, the system automatically emails or texts a link to the new history form in advance of the appointment for clients to complete before arrival.

However, poor contact information collection and maintenance make these automations and tech-fueled efficiencies impossible. Veterinary client communication systems insiders estimate that practices, on average, only have valid email addresses for 70 percent of their clients. Before moving forward with strategic client communication goals, ask all clients to validate and/or update their contact information — ideally by checking and entering it themselves through your online client portal.

Built-in or dedicated systems

Many practice information management systems (PIMS) come with built-in veterinary client communication tools. Some practices, however, choose dedicated communications systems instead. Here's how the two approaches compare:

PIMS built-in communication system

  • One of many features for practice management
  • Broad focus on and responsibility for many elements of practice operations
  • Simple reminders
  • Harder-to-track ROI for client communication usage only 

Dedicated veterinary client communication system

  • Features and tools provide targeted client communication options
  • Narrow focus on client communication
  • More sophisticated filtering and automated communication triggers
  • Easier-to-track ROI

When weighing veterinary client communication options, ask these questions:

  • Does it offer enterprise-level control for practices with more than one location?
  • Is your practice committed to more strategic and refined veterinary client communication, education, and retention?
  • How flexible is the module or system's ability to meet your practice's needs and idiosyncrasies?
  • How much hands-on customer support will you receive specifically for client communication strategies and usage?
  • Can the provider share ROI-positive user data showing jumps in key practice metrics that exceed the cost of the module or system?
  • Can the provider share user data showing increased client satisfaction and retention?

What's right for you?

Some practices feel satisfied with the veterinary client communication tools built into a PIMS system. However, if you want to move your client communication in more sophisticated and strategic directions, then a dedicated communication system may make more sense — financially and otherwise — by providing robust opportunities to track progress toward goals such as:

  • Practitioner scoring that shows which ones align best with client communication, adherence, satisfaction, and retention goals
  • Retention tools that keep every pet on track for optimum preventive care and wellness as well as targeting follow-up care when medical issues crop up
  • Improved digital marketing, in addition to one-on-one client communication

What's right for your patients?

Good relationships and good veterinary client communication correlate with better veterinary patient outcomes. Good communication also means much more than annual wellness reminders. Better client education and client service also lead to higher satisfaction and retention. By teaching your clients what defines quality animal healthcare, you prioritize their pets' well-being and health.

Indeed, practices grow and succeed through better communication, but it's the patients who benefit the most. Consider the young-adult pets with early stage dental disease who get the regular dental visits that fend off kidney or heart issues; and the senior pets whose more frequent lab work uncovers subclinical issues, averting a crisis. And then there are the dog breeds prone to cancer or painful orthopedic issues who benefit from more frequent screenings and earlier pain relief.

It's important to communicate your recommendations and expectations to clients. Simply find tech tools that increase your capabilities and success.


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