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A well-known business principal is that it is much more expensive to win a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Like all service-based businesses, veterinary practices should therefore invest in keeping their clients engaged so that they return to purchase more services over time. Reminders are the most obvious method for encouraging repeat business because you already know everything you need to know in order to send a personalized communication to your clients. They also demonstrate that you are engaged in the care of your patients, and that you provide good service. In this article we’ll review some best practices for maximizing the effectiveness of your reminders while reducing the burden of managing them.
Use Reminder Programs
A program is a series of reminders that are sent out over time. Programs are significantly more effective than sending a single reminder because they allow you to gently nudge clients into taking action over time. Successful programs generally involve three reminders spaced about a week apart. If the first message doesn’t prompt action, then the second or third reminders will likely do the trick.
Using a three-reminder program should not triple your work though. Your practice management software should handle the workload automatically. In our software reminders are created using inventory automation we call “actions.” Actions are strung together to create programs. Each action defines when the reminder should be sent and how it should be sent (e.g., email, text message, or postcard). Creating a medical record for an item automatically triggers the actions for that item. Once the program is set up, the scheduling and sending of the electronic messages is automated.
Let Clients Decide How They Want Receive Reminders
Reminders only work if your clients open the messages and act on them. In order to ensure that the message is opened, it should be delivered via the right channel. For example, younger clients might prefer to receive all of their reminders via text messages - sending them a postcard is a waste of paper and money. The best way to make sure your messages reach your clients via the right channels is to let your clients decide which channels they prefer.
Again, managing each client’s reminder preferences should not create more work. In our software, each client can define his/her preferred channel – email, text message, and/or postcard. A client’s reminder preferences automatically overwrite the default channel specified in an action to ensure that the client always gets reminders via the channel he/she prefers.
Give Reminders Your Own Voice
What reminders say is only part of the formula – how they say it is equally important. Reminders stem from an existing relationship, and their goal is to sustain that relationship. The tone of the message should therefore reflect the culture and values of your practice. All communications should reinforce the relationship between your practice and your client.
Giving a voice to your practice should be a natural part of your reminder system. We allow our customers to create custom messages and subject lines for their emails to ensure that they have complete control over how the message reads, and how it is personalized. Once the template is set up, the message itself is automatically personalized for the applicable client.
Finding time to keep up with reminding clients that their pets need to be seen might seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, the right tool can automate most of the hard work associated with managing reminders. That tool should be your practice management software.