How to speak “pet owner”

According to a new language-focused research study spearheaded by the AVMA, what you say to clients—right down to specific words and phrases—matters. A lot.

The nationwide study, Language That Works, Changing the Way We Talk About Veterinary Care, shows that a fundamental shift in the way veterinary teams communicate can significantly influence pet owner perceptions about the value and importance of regular veterinary care. Study results are now available in a new ebook, the first in an AVMA library of Language of Veterinary Care resources, made possible in part by educational funding from CareCredit and Pets Best Pet Health Insurance.

Here's what we heard

The study revealed pet owners may say they rely on veterinary medicine to keep up with their pet’s care, but they also say they don’t always bring their pets in for regular checkups. When asked what they value from their veterinarian, three main things topped the list:

  • Expertise
  • A strong relationship
  • Personalized recommendations

You already provide all of these, so speak to pet owners in a way that helps them hear and appreciate your value. Here are some ideas from the downloadable ebook.

Survey says: Build a caring connection

Remind pet owners that regular checkups are a great way for you to get to know them and their pet. Routine exams can also help identify (even avoid) problems early.

>What to say: Discuss your client’s relationship with their pet. This can help you provide individualized care, address concerns, and open the door for explaining the value of preventive care.

Survey says: Make veterinary care personal

Pet owners say they want a veterinarian who is trustworthy, will make their pet feel comfortable, and goes out of the way to provide personalized service. In fact, of all the things a veterinarian could offer, survey respondents said “personalized recommendations” are the most valuable.

Customizing care can give you an advantage because it sets your veterinary expertise apart from other sources that only provide generic support.

>What to say: Assure your clients they can always turn to you and your team for recommendations tailored to their pet. This makes veterinary care feel more meaningful and fortifies loyal relationships.

Survey says: Words that work when it comes to cost

The research also revealed pet owners’ first association with veterinary care is “money,” but they typically don’t budget for veterinary care and may not be aware of payment options. They appreciate it when their veterinarian encourages them to ask questions about the cost of care and offers “options” to help them pay for all the different types of care their pet needs.

>What to say: Along with your personalized recommendations, provide details about payment options to help clients see how they can afford all the care their pet needs on an ongoing basis.­

For more insights from the study, including the right language for more productive conversations with pet owners, download the new Language That Works ebook.

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