Challenges: Communication with pet owners, real-time pet updates, reducing phone time
- Communicating with owners who aren’t allowed to enter the hospital.
- Sending real-time pet health updates.
- Reducing time spent on the phone every day to make room for urgent or emergency calls.
In Redlands, California there’s only one emergency pet hospital operating 24 hours, 7 days a week. The Emergency Pet Hospital of Redlands only provides service via walk-ins. For clientele and their pets, this could be very overwhelming.
As an Emergency Pet Hospital, pet owners aren’t allowed past the waiting rooms. Adding more stress to an already intense situation.
Moriah the Patient Liaison Lead at Redlands is in charge of bridging the gap between the patient and vet, providing updates on pet health, and scheduling and confirming appointments.
Originally Moriah and the hospital staff used phone calls as their main source for communication. But with MessageDesk’s text messaging, Moriah and her team have cut their phone time in half.
Read on to find out how:
Phone calls have become an inconvenience for Redlands since transitioning to 24-hour service.
“We just recently went to 24-hour service about four months ago. It's been bananas... Since we're a 24-hour facility now, we get three o'clock in the morning communication that needs to happen. And it just became inconvenient to try to contact people in the middle of the night and then they don't know what's going on.”
As the only emergency hospital in the Redlands area, Moriah has difficulty managing communication between vets and pet owners with the high volume of phone calls.
“Basically eight hours of your shift, you're nonstop on the phone. Like, you don't even have time to eat your lunch. I would be eating a protein bar in my mouth while also having my phone on mute. So I could still be on the phone while I was trying to eat lunch. We have an extreme volume of patients just because we're the only 24 hours in a 30-mile radius.”
A large portion of the calls Moriah and her team typically receive are inquired about pets who are already in the hospital. Owners want updates on how their pets are doing while in the care of veterinarians.
“It is a lot of calling just because everyone's freaking out about their dog. Then we also have people trying to check-in and then we're also trying to reach out to clients to send information. Like we just didn't have time to do all of these things at once. When you're in that setting, it's all happening at the same time.”
When making callbacks, Moriah saw they were often sent to voicemail.
“Nobody listens to their voicemails, can't blame them.”
Redlands created Moriah’s team to streamline communication between both the medical staff and pet owners. A team of a few people with their lead, Moriah.
“About six months ago, we added my team to the hospital. I was the first one. I was by myself. And then we realized that once we went 24 hours, it would be a team job. So basically my team is in charge of communicating with clients. We talk to them more than they talk to anyone else in the entire hospital.”
Solutions: text updates, text templates
- Texting updates about pet’s well-being.
- Saving text message templates for frequently used messages.
- Checking in after pets go home to ensure proper care is being provided.
Kim, the hospital manager, saw the communication problems between the receptionist and client services finding the time to communicate over the phone and suggested trying out a text messaging service to connect with clients.
“I had a lot of people that were left behind, it would be like 12 hours and they're like, ‘oh, I haven't heard from you.’”
To fix their customer communication gap, Redlands started looking for a way to send texts from their computers at reception.
“We decided to look into texting services and that's when our practice manager came across MessageDesk.”
Initially, there was concern about a rough transition period when switching their main communication from phone to text.
“The transition was seamless. We set up our account, and we could see who was messaging.”
For clients, these text messages are an important reassurance of their pet’s well-being. It makes the experience of having to use an emergency pet hospital much less stressful. Moriah now has a team of client liaisons who are in charge of maintaining regular contact with clients over text messages using MessageDesk.
“We update clients every three to four hours to let them know how their pet’s doing. We send MMS picture messages, so owners have a visual, so they don't think their dogs in jail.”
“It's important that we communicate often with owners. Even if the doctor hasn't examined the pet or we are not exactly actively working on that pet, any news is good press when you're in the hospital. So it's nice to be able to communicate very quickly with our owners.”
Since their team handles so many messages, Redlands find themselves sending similar messages throughout the day.
This is where text message templates make communication that much more efficient.
One place they use templates frequently is during shift changes. A pet may be in the hospital for some time, so when a new client liaison takes over a conversation they send a template.
“I make them introduce themselves just so that the client knows their name. They each have a personalized message, so they just send it out when they start their shift, and then the owners know who they're talking to. It saves us a lot of time.”
They also use templates to direct patients to the proper channels in the case of an emergency.
For example, they use templates to redirect clients if they think their pet has ingested a foreign substance/object.
Results: Less phone time, improved satisfaction, streamlined communication
- Cut the total time on the phone by half.
- Improved client satisfaction.
- Streamlined communication channels for clients that have a pet in the hospital.
MessageDesk was crucial to the Emergency Pet Hospital of Redlands expanding their client communication.
“We've made client communication a very big priority in this hospital recently, which is why we enjoy MessageDesk so much. It's important that we're sending visuals and creating that narrative that we're taking care of your pet.”
The result of sending pet updates over texts is much less time spent on the phone for the reception staff.
“I would say we probably cut our daily phone time in half.”
They shifted a big portion of their calls to text so they had less pressure on those answering the phones.
“Our receptionists still spend a good chunk of time on the phone, but we are able to vet a lot of those like incoming calls, questions about medications, or asking if something is abnormal. We're able to streamline those over to text messages.”
All of the questions that don’t need an immediate answer are now handled over text.