Veterinary clinics, pet hospitals, pet shelters, and other medical facilities that cater to animals’ health needs are often described as 24-hour businesses because emergencies can happen at any time. So, in reality, veterinary medical professionals are on call beyond normal business hours. For this and other reasons, veterinary businesses are excellent beneficiaries of answer services.
For the vast majority of people, their pets are loved and cherished family members. In the event of a medical emergency, it’s very important to them that they have access to veterinary professionals. Just as in any medical practice, the last thing a person in a desperate situation wants to hear is an answering machine.
It can be just as distressing for a caller to speak to someone who lacks a compassionate approach to dealing with their plight or the skills to deal with a caller who may be in an agitated, panicked, or other extreme emotional state. In this regard, the most elite and sophisticated answer services prove themselves to be far more than just live message takers.
This is because their employees have first been trained in advanced communication skills and perceptions to know how to get the caller to a calmer state so that they can get to the heart of the matter. Secondly, they have sophisticated support technology and veterinary service-provided data to give callers the impression that they are speaking to a staff member.
Both of these aspects are aided by a highly collaborative relationship between the answer service and the veterinary facility designed for dealing with any number of specific or general circumstances. The veterinary service provides the answer service with information and data allowing them to create highly specific, relevant scripts. These scripts can be designed to reflect policies and protocols for identifying many of the most common pet emergencies.
Veterinary facilities often see a predominant recurring set of emergencies. By creating scripts and policies and providing access to question/answer/protocol sheets, live agents can ask a series of highly specific questions. Agents can use callers’ answers to determine which veterinary staff members to contact.
If, for instance, the emergency is clearly defined and immediate, the call can be categorized as a direct call emergency to the on-call medical veterinary professional. If the call clearly fits a non-immediate profile as determined by the veterinary service, it may facilitate contact to another member of the staff.
In addition, leading answer services are not only skilled in working with all types of medical practices, but have policies in place for patient privacy and security. Privacy may not be an issue in terms of being directly detrimental to the owner. But, that being said, the sophisticated technology of the answer service allows long-term storage of all calls and messages that can provide additional information to the veterinary service.
In addition, thirty-five states have statutes that address the confidentiality of veterinary patient records. This link goes to a summary of these privacy laws from the American Veterinary Medical Association. These laws predominantly provide protection for the veterinarian in a wide set of circumstances.
Both of these aspects go a long way in setting ethical standards and levels of care that veterinary businesses rely on to set them apart from other services. This level of service can be a big factor in client retention and maintaining a healthy bottom line.
Apart from emergencies, veterinary staffs are often small. This can make it difficult to serve large client/patient populations. An answer service ensures that veterinary clinics or hospitals can always respond on the first ring with a knowledgeable and live virtual receptionist. This further ensures long-term client retention.