Vets4Pets vet taking a selfie with a pug
VetHelpDirect Launches New WhatsApp Service To Connect Pet Owners With Vets
VetHelpDirect, an online source of advice for pet owners, has developed ground-breaking new technology aimed at tackling the growing challenge of connecting pet owners to expert veterinary care. It has launched a new service using WhatsApp for Business to help veterinary practices deliver expert care. Vets4Pets, the nationwide chain of vet practices, are the first to start using the service – making it the first time a corporate veterinary business has used WhatsApp with customers.
The launch comes at the right time to tackle a number of pet care challenges that have been accelerated by Covid-19. For pet owners, difficulties in attending surgeries in-person has led to a significant proportion delaying or missing routine care for their pets and vet practices’ ability to provide care has been threatened by growing administrative burdens. This has led to some independent practices having to close because they cannot find the staff to deal with enquiries, which in turn is having an impact on mental health with as many as 70 percent of vets in the UK reporting that they feel stressed.
Through VetHelpDirect’s new technology, pet owners can simply speak to vets through WhatsApp –the most popular private messaging service in the world with over two billion users – to ask routine questions like ‘what time is my appointment tomorrow?’, assess whether they need a consultation or even to order and pay for medication and treatments. Using the platform, pet owners can be safely and securely sent a link to process payments in one touch using the likes of Apple Pay and Google Pay, wherever they are.
There is no need to pre-install extra apps, which typically represent a barrier to adoption. And for the practices, a single dashboard where WhatsApp messages land, automatically displaying client and pet details alongside them, means replies are quick and easy. It also allows greater flexibility for the veterinary team to work remotely.
To ensure the service was exactly what innovative vet practices needed, VetHelpDirect partnered with Vets4Pets throughout the development. It is already live at vet practices across the UK, including at Vets4Pets in Emersons Green, Bristol. The team has been using it for two months now and have already experienced significant benefits for the service they provide and the overall experience for pet owners.
“The experience pet owners receive is not just about the clinical part of our jobs. The administrative part of the experience has a huge bearing on whether clients feel like they received quality pet care. By working with VetHelpDirect, we’ve been able to improve the softer side of our business, making life as stress free as possible for pets and their owners,” said Oliver Vann, practice manager atVets4Pets in Emersons Green, Bristol. “People can easily share videos and photos of their pets with us so we can triage what care they need. Feedback has been that the service helps put pet owners’ minds at ease and cuts unnecessary admin and stress for them and for the practice.”
One pet owner talks about the new launch and has this to say: “You have made it so simple to communicate and it’s so much faster than the previous system. The response time is amazing. I like it as it allows me to be able to send messages when it’s convenient to me, and pick up the responses when I want to. Payment is so easy and it’s secure. Ordering meds and booking appointments is no longer a chore. I would only use the phone now if it was an emergency. Although I believe I would also use WhatsApp for this due to the great speed of response. Thank you for making life easy.”
Carla Puime Costoya, partner and veterinary surgeon at Vets4Pets Emersons Green, Bristol, added: “A great deal of phone traffic at a vet practice is about repeat prescriptions. It’s a burden on the reception team and an unnecessarily time intensive job for pet owners. By communicating through WhatsApp we have been able to streamline this process and enable clients to order and pay for repeat prescriptions on their smartphones. This makes it easier for pet owners and it has a positive impact on the running of the practice, which means we are able to focus more on the care we provide.”
“The pandemic accelerated some worrying trends in the veterinary industry. Access to vets is getting harder and too many practices are unable to recruit the vets they need to fill their rotas. The administrative burden that causes is then forcing vet practices to close – making it even more difficult to access care,” said Susie Samuel, CEO and founder, VetHelpDirect. “It’s a vicious circle and unless we can find new ways of democratising access to pet care, we stand on the brink of a pet care crisis. By using such a simple and ubiquitous tool, we think we can revolutionise pet care while also helping vet practices run more efficiently and reduce stress. Being able to develop this with insight from a business as innovative and customer-focussed as Vets4Pets has been hugely valuable and allowed us to really understand the problem and tackle it in the most useful way for pet owners and practices.”
Gareth Bray, Business Development Manager, Partnerships at WhatsApp said: “People already use WhatsApp for their most important conversations about their loved ones – whether that’s friends and family, or when they need to talk to a vet about their family pet. VetHelpDirect’s service on WhatsApp for Business lets pet parents WhatsApp their vets quickly and simply, to give them expert advice and support when they need it most.”
The new service is in the process of being rolled out to vet practices across the UK. For more information, visit: https://vethelpdirect.com/vets/.
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