Prepared to keep caring with healthy cost conversations

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Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), economic uncertainty and concerns about cost of care are now the focus for many of your clients. This means they will welcome open and supportive conversations about payment. In fact, being proactive in communicating with clients about cost and payment options can help build trust, earn loyalty, and strengthen your relationships.

Some veterinarians are having candid conversations with pet parents about their spending capacity. This is one way to show clients you're not only committed to their pet's care, you're sensitive to their financial situation. Offering financing options with a way to pay monthly can help clients move forward with your full recommendation. Your team can also suggest alternate solutions, such as staging a treatment plan over time so it’s more cost effective.

Now more than ever, candid conversations about payment are not only needed, they can help your practice retain and attract clients. Make sure your team is trained in phone skills, prepared to discuss cost, and ready to share contactless payment solutions. From my experience coaching phone skills and doing mystery shopping, I've discovered 89% of client service representatives quote fees without engaging callers; and 76% don't ask to schedule an appointment. These are opportunities you don't want your staff to miss.

As the client experience keeps evolving, a healthy financial relationship needs to become an integrated part of the care you provide. Here are just a few ways to add financial care to your new protocols:

  • The phone is a more powerful tool than ever. As workflows have changed, the phone has become absolutely essential. Clients will be concerned about their pet, the process and payment, and they'll want to be assured about all three. When they call to schedule, explain what to expect when they arrive, capture relevant medical information, and reassure them you have payment options. This can help ease their concerns before and, again, during their visit.
  • Make the most of telehealth. There's been a surge in practices leveraging telehealth, telemedicine and virtual consultations through a technology partner or “pop-up” experience, like Zoom or FaceTime. The same phone skills apply in this environment. If you’re doing virtual consults, it doesn't take much time to add a financial conversation at the end of your medical evaluation; it can be as easy as telling clients how they can pay online or on their If your practice has a payment portal or relies on third-party financing partners, text a link to clients or share the URL address.

One final note. As you continue adapting your protocols and process, it helps to remember your clients are trying to adjust, too. They're not only concerned about their pet’s health; they may now be feeling apprehensive about their budget. When you and your team take the time to discuss easy ways to pay, clients notice and appreciate it. Ultimately, healthy cost conversations really can help your clients feel prepared to keep caring for their pets, now and going forward.

By Amanda Donnelly, DVM, MBA

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