We are currently all dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 and all the uncertainty that brings. It is really scary right now to be afraid for your own health and welfare and that of your family but to also have a helpless pet at home that you may need to get care for. You would only take them in for emergency care of course but then the costs of care would be more and you aren’t working right now because you are self-quarantined. So what are you going to do?
This is what many of your clients are going through right now. We are ourselves are going through these feelings right now. When considering how to communicate with your clients right now we must first identify with them and how they might be feeling right now. They along with everyone else right now is anxious, uncertain, scared, stressed, and so much more. Remembering those emotions and answering those questions will go a long way toward connecting with and ultimately communicating with your clients during a crisis.
Let’s look at some actual ways you can communicate and share your updates with your clients during a crisis. This particular COVID-19 crisis has found us being quarantined and practicing “social distancing” not all crisis will be this extreme but because we have found ourselves here let’s look at how we can help our client within the limitations we are on us.
- Update social media accounts regularly. News and updates change quickly and keeping your pages current is vital. During a crisis like this people may be trying to call and get through to your practice. Increased call volume means busy signals or waiting on hold. If your clients jump online to your Facebook or Instagram pages be sure they can easily find out what your current situation is, or at least your situation for the day. Are you open? What hours?
- Communicate via your webpage. We are probably all guilty of not keeping our webpages updated as much as we should. I am certainly guilty of that and I’m in the business of updating webpages. Adding a spot on the homepage front and center with your practice update is great way to keeping your clients “in the know”.
- Update your Google My Business listing with your new hours, even if you are updating it daily. During uncertain times likes these it is hard to predict if we will be closing tomorrow or early today. If you know you hours are changing be sure to update them on Google. Your clients or new clients who are rushing to your hospital during business hours with an emergency or the hopes of getting the pet’s medications refilled just to find you gone will create anger and frustration. When we ‘google’ a business and ask for directions it will give us the listing of the practice, your updated hours will let your readers know that you aren’t open or that you are. If you would like to know how to update your hours on google follow along here: https://support.google.com/business/answer/3039617?visit_id=637205880713669576-1053985497&rd=1
- Update your hours on Yelp for the same reason as listed above. Here is the link for updating your YELP listing: https://blog.yelp.com/2019/06/updating-your-business-information-on-yelp
- Use your practice management software to send out an email to your client base to let them know what is going on with the practice. If you have to adjust your hours then share it. If you have like in the case of COVID-19 changed your protocols like curbside care or call in food and prescription orders then share that via email. Your clients will be able to keep that email and use it as a reference when they might need. Also include useful information in that update email like what to do in an emergency, where to go, how to reach you, etc.
- When sharing information use reliable sources of industry information to reduce the spread of misinformation. We often look to AVMA.org to share news and updates related to the veterinary industry. Here is the latest on what veterinarians need to know about COVID-19.
- Link to reliable state and national organizations that are reputable. In cases, like we are currently facing you can link to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): www.cdc.gov or the World Health Organization: www.who.int. There are many local and state-level organizations that would be good to share as they would directly pertain to you and your clients.
We hope there will never be another instance where you need to know how to communicate with clients through a crisis, but it isn’t wasted knowledge either. Having a robust method of getting the word out to your clients will ensure they are well informed about your practice and most importantly about what to do if they need care for their pets in a crisis. Having this protocol worked out will only make communicating electronically that much smoother!
Best of luck as we all go through this COVID-19 scare together but safely distanced from one another.