Ka-ching! How to Reduce No-shows With Veterinary Online Payments

5 min read

Consumers are now used to making online payments pretty much for every transaction. Booking air tickets or appointments online at your hairdresser is a smoother experience when you can pay online. Adoption of digital or online payments among 18 to 34 year-olds has grown to 93% in the US (Survey of 2000 US customers by Mckinsey). Small and medium businesses specifically relied on online payments last year, especially with the shifts during the pandemic.
Using cards or paying online reduces the “pain of paying” because customers don’t feel their money escaping their wallets. It also makes the appointment or experience better because the payment is already sorted.

This theory is no different when it comes to your customers or pet owners. So what does it mean for your practice?

Being able to offer online payments to your pet owners can

Remove the manual work included – your front desk staff would spend time managing payments, recording, offering balances. Manual calculations take time, and that’s the last thing you would want at a busy practice

Provide a better experience for pet owners – paying online is just easy and provides instant confirmation.

But most importantly, we see that reducing no-shows is a crucial benefit of adding online payments to your appointments. No shows can happen due to various reasons. Other than actual emergencies, pet owners may skip an appointment because they found another practice with an early appointment. Or think they could do without the appointment.

So why add payments to online appointments?

Because we all value things when we pay for them. Adding a deposit or holding your credit card for a purchase creates a sense of obligation. So if pet owners pay for appointments beforehand, the chances of not showing up are less. Of course, you can set up automated reminders so pet owners see upcoming appointments, but payments give that extra push.

Seadown Veterinary clinic uses Vetstoria’s online payments to “…reduce staff intervention and eliminate debts. It also removes the “big discussion of bills” when pet owners arrive at the practice”. You can read more about it over here.

In a recent webinar by Vetstoria on reducing no-shows, we found that 13% of respondents that used deposits saw about 0-5 no-shows a week. In contrast, those who saw over 20 no-shows a week weren’t using the payment features.

When to use payments

You can choose to be flexible with how you charge your customers and per appointment type as the value of each service varies. Some of the example appointments you can charge at the point of booking the appointment can be,

● Vaccinations, where you can capture the complete amount upfront as the fee tends, are usually fixed.

● General consultations, including telemedicine (video consultations), can charge a pre-authorized payment if the pet requires additional tests.

● Nail trims and similar appointments could have additional services associated. One option is to share an email with the link to pay online.

Being able to offer various options such as “per appointment types” gives pet owners flexibility. And the ability to pre-authorize helps to capture any follow-up charges as well cover the consultation fee.

We recommend offering pre-authorised deposits or total payments beforehand because pet owners don’t need to worry about dealing with transactions after treatments.

Embedding payments with appointment scheduling

Suppose you’re using software or a platform to schedule appointments. In that case, it’s convenient if a payment feature is available. Appointments are a vital source of revenue for your practice, so whenever a transaction is made, it will also simultaneously record in your schedule or practice management software. Other factors you’d want to consider are,

● If the platform offers convenient methods of payment reconciliation

● No additional fees for having payments with the platform or possible transaction or merchant fees

● Types of charges such as transaction fees and processing fees. This could also depend on the size of your practice.

● Secure transactions so that it aligns with privacy regulations and customer data

● Sync with your schedule or calendar so the payments are recorded instantly.

So how does a platform like Vetstoria offer payments?

Payments with Vetstoria

If you’re using a platform like Vetstoria – it’s already included in your subscription because payments are essential, and our support team will be happy to set it up for you. Vetstoria offers three payment options;

1. Preauthorization or deposit a specific amount: As the pet owner schedules their appointment, their card is pre-authorized for that amount. It only holds a particular amount and is guaranteed when you finally charge the pet owner. However, if the appointment is scheduled for over five days in advance, you can opt for one of the below options.

2. Fixed or full payment: You can charge pet owners or customers at the point of scheduling the appointment with your vet practice.

Additionally, online payments with Vetstoria provide the following features that make it easy for the front desk to manage payments.

● Get a complete view of your transactions.

Vetstoria provides a summary tab of all the paid transactions. You can export all information about a transaction ranging from pet owner name, pet, amount, appointment type, Stripe ID, and more for reconciliation purposes.

● Communicating your refund policy

Once your practice decides your refund policy, you can add this in your “system messages” seen during the booking process. You can also choose to add your refund policy in your “appointment confirmation email.” Your practice has the option to leave the payment as a credit or offer to process a refund within a specific number of days. This is made easy through Stripe.

How to enable payments

Once you switch on payments in your dashboard via the toggle, you need to set up your Stripe account and integrate it with Vetstoria. Then you can visit the appointment types tab in the dashboard and set which appointment you want to charge for and the payment method. It’s that simple. You can read about it all over here.

Want to learn more about how we offer payments? Check out our payments page or speak to a product specialist to get a free product tour.