I truly believe that veterinary hospitals should see social media as part of client service & way to connect with clients. It is fantastic customer service for an animal hospital to interact with pet parents on Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest.
Not only that, but writing useful blogs is something that will make clients really appreciate your veterinary hospital’s website. When I think about veterinary hospitals that have demonstrated how to use social media as a client service and connection tool, no one sticks out more than Azzore Veterinary Specialists in Russellville, AR.
I recently spoke with Cheree, their veterinary practice manager, about how their practice has gone above and beyond to provide client service that truly connects with pet parents online.
What Does Azzore Veterinary Specialists Do with Social Media That’s So Different?
Azzore Veterinary Specialists post Facebook & Twitter photo and status updates of every single one of the pet patients they admit for care. (Bear with me here – I guarantee they aren’t totally crazy to do this!) According to practice manager, Cheree, this process started when Azzore’s CSR, Jennifer, posted a photo of a cute patient to Facebook.
Seeing the huge response, Cheree asked Jennifer to keep doing whatever she had done to make such a popular post. If you visit Azzore’s Facebook or Twitter now, you’ll see they’ve continued to post great patient photos & updates consistently ever since.
“Clients rave about it,” Cheree told me when I asked what clients think of this photo & update service. As we talked about Azzore’s Twitter success (they have 1754 followers at the time this was written), I realized exactly why pet parents see Azzore Veterinary Specialists’ social media as a client service.
“(Clients) are afraid to bother (the veterinary hospital) for updates on their pet,” Cheree explained.
The solution? A worried pet parent can go to Azzore’s Twitter page at any time to get an update about their pet. This option, great for shy or busy customers, really goes a step beyond being able to call your clinic for an update on your pet. (Of course the staff at AVS welcome phone calls, too!)
How Does Azzore Do It!?
In the busy world of a veterinary practice, taking photos & writing tweets might seem like an impossible task. Cheree solves that commonly perceived issue of time by delegating the veterinary hospital’s social media tasks to various staff members. “Different staff are good at different things, ” she notes, explaining that Azzore’s CSR, Jennifer, is the best pet photographer on staff.
When patients are admitted, the CSR team first gets permission to post the pet’s photo & story. A photo of the patient is taken, and that is posted to Facebook & Twitter. Throughout the day, Cheree uses Hootsuite, an online social media management platform, to post status updates. Her office is close to the surgical suite & treatment area, allowing her to stay up-to-date.
Talking to Cheree really made me re-think how I can get more of my hospital’s staff involved in the social media process, and I really recommend you do the same. Especially when trying to provide a high-volume of content, it’s a lot of work for one person.
Get a social media policy for your veterinary staff in place, and start getting them trained & interested in the process! The Quinebaug Valley Veterinary Hospital staff had a brainstorm session 2 days ago, and I look forward to sharing how I manage to get more members of our team contributing to our social media presence in the near future.
A Lesson in Social Media for Specialty Veterinary Hospitals
I have often heard from specialty veterinary hospitals that they don’t use social media because they only see their clients for one service, and then they don’t tend to work with them again.
I never had a really strong case for convincing them to use social media until I talked to Cheree about Azzore Veterinary Specialists. Cheree told me how, although it’s true that they only see most patients for a few visits, she thinks their social media presence is invaluable. They have gotten new clients through social media, including some who traveled to Arkansas from as far away as New Jersey and Wisconsin!
Not only that, but their clients tend to remain friends with them on Facebook and Twitter after their pet’s care is done. Why? I can only assume because they find the daily patient photo updates Azzore provides as entertaining as I do. Think about how powerful that is for their practice.
Clients who don’t need their services at that point might still refer friends and family to them, and they always know Azzore is there and still providing great client service for the next time they need a specialty vet. There is no better way to stay top-of-mind as a specialty hospital than social media.
Would You Post about A Patient That Passed Away?
I’m sure that when you started thinking about the possibility of posting constant status updates on admitted pet patients you thought about the inevitable, “What if a pet passes away while in our care?”
As veterinary professionals, we can’t help but think of these “worst case scenarios” sometimes. Cheree described a case to me with a terminal dog that had to be euthanized. She detailed to me her fears about posting about the dog’s passing, “People had been following his story though. I couldn’t just pretend it didn’t happen.”
In a bravely transparent move, Cheree chose to post about the dog, thanking clients for following his story & explaining that the owners had decided to lovingly let their pet go.
The outpouring from other pet lovers who had lost a pet was amazing, and Azzore now has a memorial pet photo board on their Facebook for other similarly difficult outcomes. What some veterinary professionals might perceive as business suicide has proven to be the opposite for Azzore Veterinary Specialists.
A testament to how much modern customers appreciate transparency from businesses, Cheree has not had a single person complain about the memorial photo album. Because Azzore gets consent to post photos and share patient stories on social media at the time of admission, the staff never has to struggle with asking permission from an already upset client.
As a pet owner, I can appreciate how nice it would be to have an online memorial to a pet I spent so much time loving. Plus, the community and support that can be brought to a grieving pet owner is really a lesson in connecting via social media that touches the heart. After talking to Cheree, I am strongly considering adding a pet memorial photo album to my practice’s Facebook.
Let’s Sum Up The Lesson!
Snout School is really designed to teach how social media can be used by veterinary clinics to educated, communicate & connect. (If you like these type of lessons, be sure to enroll in Snout School.) I think that Azzore has beyond mastered the art of connecting with their clients, to the extent that it’s truly a service to them. If your practice is doing something with social media that you think makes you stand out, please contact me. I love using Snout’s Social Media Stories to share what other people in the veterinary industry are doing with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter & blogs! What do you think of Azzore’s social media philosophy? Leave a comment below.