03 Apr Managing outbound communications effectively
Welcome to Onswitch’s latest blog, this time sharing top tips for practices on reducing the number of inbound calls requesting standard information.
During this lockdown period, we’ll be sharing regular updates that we hope will help your business stay on track during these difficult times. You can also get video updates on our Facebook page, where the team are posting short clips of practical tips, useful information and community welfare advice as and when we think of anything that might help.
Please do let us know if there are subjects you’d like to know more about, and we’ll do our best to oblige – we’re all in this together!
From our conversations with practices and veterinary colleagues in recent days, it’s become obvious that there are three main types of inbound calls currently being received:
- Basic admin enquiries – what are your opening hours, can I still collect my usual flea and worm medication or food orders?
- Vaccination enquiries – my pet is due their annual booster, do they still need it now?
- My pet / horse is ill or injured
Of these calls, only the third group cannot be managed and minimised by your team in advance, and so we recommend that you all take a moment to review current practice protocols for information sharing, in order to help minimise the number of basic requests coming in. All of which have similar responses.
Minimising inbound call volumes
With vets and nurses stretched more thinly than usual, it makes sense to take whatever steps you can to limit the number of calls coming in to the practice to those requiring action, not information. In this way first contact takes place away from the phone line and without requiring time spent relaying the same basic information to countless clients.
Some handy tips for first contact resolution include:
- Adding basic information on new ways of working and opening hours onto your website home page and social media platforms. Keep these updated regularly and tell all your clients to keep checking for updates.
- Proactively call all clients who have repeat medications from you. Let them know the process you’ll be following for making prescriptions and routine treatments available, i.e. posting them out and collecting payment over the phone
- Turning off your text and email reminders for vaccinations. Whilst these are normally a great way to drive traffic into the practice, right now that’s the last thing you need to be doing!
- Offering a webchat facility for owners to make contact without tying up the phone line
Understanding your clients’ mindset
These are not normal times. With everybody confined to their houses much more than usual, we’ve all got more time on our hands. Social media can be enormously helpful, but it can also propagate misinformation and ‘fake news’. Everybody is an expert now, or knows someone who knows someone who knows lots about something. The answer to this is not to think disparaging thoughts about your clients, but to get ahead of the game by making your practice pages and feeds the source of reliable information and facts. Best practice in these worst of times would be to:
- Push information out daily on your Facebook page and twitter feed
- Post short videos of team members talking about the things clients want to know – when you’re open, who you can see, how remote consulting works, how routine medications can be obtained
- Make it a regular contact, post short daily videos at roughly the same times, 10.30 for ‘coffee with the vet’ for example
- Real people with familiar faces are what clients want to see now, not generic cartoons and animations
- Nobody has time to watch long videos or read lengthy posts – keep the information you share punchy with soundbites. Videos need only be two or three minutes long
- Send texts and emails with latest news so that we all stay connected
The effect of all this will be that you strengthen the trusted status your practice has in the community. We’re all in this together, and once it’s over people will remember the businesses who made to easy to get reliable information and who genuinely cared. Build your online community to stand strong together, supporting each other with advice and practical help. Truly, out of this awful situation will come some good. We’ll value the personal touch even more, having lived without it during the darkest of days.