CUSTOMER SURVEY REPORT

The Impact of Online Booking: A Survey of 104 Veterinary Practices

Online appointment booking saves time for veterinary teams every day, but some fear that such technologies limit the "personal touch" that they have with pet owners. We set out on a quest to discover whether this was true for practices that have implemented online booking with Vetstoria.

Personal Touch Study Header_New

Key highlights:

91%

of practices save meaningful amounts of time with online booking

86%

of practices report positive feedback from pet owners, with only 1% indicating negative feedback

85%

of practices believe online booking has positively impacted the service they offer

Background

As COVID-19 has pushed us towards a contactless world, it’s more important than ever that practices maintain the friendly and personable service they pride themselves on. However, with pet-ownership experiencing a sharp rise in the past year, social distancing measures and staff layoffs, many veterinary teams feel overwhelmed.

Sadly this means less time spent with each patient and a potential negative impact on the pet owner experience.

This is where online appointment booking comes in. Ask any veterinary practice manager or receptionist what’s the one thing that would free up more time for you to focus on doing what you love? And they would likely answer fewer phone calls! 

Since a significant number of those pesky calls are from pet owners wanting to book, amend or cancel appointments, why not automate the whole process and save valuable time that can be better spent helping pet owners within the practice or those in urgent need? For some, a perceived loss of “personal touch” that comes with automated technology is the response.

Vetstoria recently surveyed 104 veterinary practices to discover whether this was the case. Does online appointment booking result in a loss of personal touch? And how does it impact the pet owner experience?

Research

In total, we received 104 responses. Respondents included independent and corporate-owned practices based in the USA, UK, Australia, Netherlands, Germany and South Africa. 

Data was collected over 14 days, from 2nd December 2020 to 16th December 2020.

To capture the data, we emailed Vetstoria customers to invite them to answer the following questions around online booking and pet owner experience:

    • How much admin time does online booking save your team every day?
    • How is the feedback from pet owners on the ability to book appointments online?
    • Has automating the booking process given your team more time to engage with clients in-house or over the phone?
    • How has online booking impacted the level of service your team is able to offer pet owners in your practice?

We also asked respondents to describe in their own words how online booking has impacted their ability to offer a personal service to pet owners. Here’s an example of one of the responses to give you a taste of what’s to come:

“I was never an advocate for online booking. We have had our surgery for forty years, and I truly believed that getting clients to call to book was the best way, but I am truly astonished. Not just at the older generation that book online. But the fact that they and a lot of people book during the daytime, thus allowing my staff more time to deal with the clients that are with us at the time in the building, giving them more invaluable attention. 

Vetstoria has changed so many things in our practice for the better, and I would recommend it to anyone. Stuck in the past? Unsure if it works? It does. Take the plunge.”

Nigel Irving – Practice Manager & Partner

TA-Irving-Veterinary-Partners-Logo

Results

Online booking saves time for the majority of veterinary practices

Q1: How much admin time does online booking save your team per day on average?

how much time saved
Data from 104 respondents (02 Dec 20 - 16 Dec 20)

After asking “How much admin time does online booking save your team every day?” 91% stated that it saved them at least 5-minutes, with many saving 30-minutes to 2-hours daily.

On an average week, that’s between 35-minutes and 14-hours of time that can now be spent offering the best possible treatment to patients and assistance to pet owners.

Why is this important? Because one of the key obstacles to providing a more intimate, caring service is lack of time. Even if it is an extra 10-minutes spent reassuring a worried pet owner (without pausing to answer the phone), it makes all the difference!

Of course, time-savings are felt more substantially by some practices than others. Responding to the final question in our survey, Craig Stone from Animal Trust, a non-profit with practices across the UK, described the impact as “astronomical”.

“Online booking has enabled Animal Trust to reduce the overall call handling by an ASTRONOMICAL amount. Thus enabling valued time to be put to better use!”

Craig Stone – Facilities Manager

Animal Trust Vets Logo

Pet owners love being able to book appointments online

Q2: How is the feedback from pet owners on the ability to book appointments online?

pet owners like online booking
Data from 104 respondents (02 Dec 20 - 16 Dec 20)

After asking “How is the feedback from pet owners on the ability to book appointments online?” an overwhelming 86% reported positive feedback from pet owners with only 1% reporting negative sentiment.

This isn’t surprising for us at Vetstoria, as pet owners appreciate the added convenience online booking brings. They can book and pay for appointments on the practice website 24/7 – no more waiting on hold or anxiously sitting by the phone hoping for the practice to open.

Feedback submitted by 1.5 million pet owners who have booked appointments through Vetstoria shows a 96% satisfaction rate – which backs up what our survey respondents have stated. (Data taken from Vetstoria’s booking widget)

“Our clients really appreciate the convenience and ease of online booking. They enjoy being able to book at their leisure. It reduces the amount of time discussing details over the phone, and clients report feeling more heard and understood by receptionists since the staff already has a general idea of what the patients need to be seen for. It reduces a lot of the stress that accompanies explaining medical concerns over the phone since they have the ability to write their needs in detail ahead of time.”

Kira
Kira – Hospital Manager

Pet Medical Center & Spa

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Automating the booking process leads to more pet owner engagement

Q3: Has automating the booking process given your team more time to engage with clients in-house or over the phone?

More time service in house
Data from 104 respondents (02 Dec 20 - 16 Dec 20)

After asking Has automating the booking process given your team more time to engage with clients in-house or over the phone? Over 60% responded yes, with just over 10% responding no.

The responses to this question back up the opinion that online booking saves time for veterinary teams. They also support the notion that the time saved directly leads to more engagement with pet owners in-house or over the phone on non-booking related queries. The below response from Will at Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre in Australia backs this up nicely:

“Reducing the number of phone calls for appointment booking has created more time for the reception team to service those people who phone for other reasons. Also, the ability for clients to arrange appointments from home, means that people feel less rushed, so are more likely to choose a time that suits them. Which leads to fewer cancellations. Win!”

Will
Will – Vet & Co-Owner

Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre Logo

This is important as it starts to paint a picture where online booking doesn’t reduce the personal touch or negatively impact the pet owner experience, but enables and enhances it.

But what do those working within veterinary practices think?

85% believe online booking has positively impacted the service they offer

Q4: How has online booking impacted the level of service your team is able to offer pet owners in your practice?

How staff likes it
Data from 104 respondents (02 Dec 20 - 16 Dec 20)

After asking “How has online booking impacted the level of service your team is able to offer pet owners in your practice?” 47% declared that it had an ‘extremely positive’ impact with just under 39% stating a ‘positive’ impact. 12% noticed no significant change, while less than 2% felt a negative effect. 

With over 85% of practices stating that online booking goes beyond saving time, and positively impacts the level of service they offer pet owners within the practice, we think it’s safe to say that for most, online booking does not compromise the ‘personal touch’ practices strive for.

“Less of the phone constantly ringing in the background means you can take your time with each phone call rather than feeling like it’s a conveyor belt.”

Zephanie
Zephanie – Vet & Director

Shepherds The Vets Logo

Online booking and pet owner experience: from the mouths of veterinary professionals

To round off our survey, we asked respondents to describe in their own words how online booking has impacted their ability to offer a personal service to pet owners. Here are some of the responses we received:

“Many claimed that it had been a relief for them to be able to book an appointment at short notice and also to book an appointment out of practice hours (for example late at night/early in the morning) if their pet was suddenly unwell. We are a practice with only one vet and nurse working, no receptionist, so it has been a huge benefit to our service.”

Melita – Veterinary Nurse

Beechwood Vets Logo

“Less time booking, more time caring.”

Chris
Chris – Owner & Vet

Henley House Veterinary Clinic Logo

“It allows our clientele to make appointments based on their availability instead of ours. This makes them feel more in control of their pet’s health.”

Amanda
Amanda – Practice Manager

Zionsville Animal Hospital Logo

Conclusion

Despite there being concerns among some in the veterinary industry about losing the personal touch when adopting automated technologies such as online booking, based on the feedback of Vetstoria users (both on the practice and pet owner side), it holds the potential to heighten personal touch and improve the pet owner experience.

As pet owners can self-schedule appointments at their convenience, they feel much more control over the process. Furthermore, since admin teams save time associated with the appointment booking process (answering calls, sending confirmation emails, taking payments etc.) they have more time to deliver more comprehensive customer service to those they interact with. 

Want to see how this would work within your practice? Book your free personalized demo with us now.

About

104 veterinary practices gave their verdict on whether online booking removes the “personal touch” in their service in a survey conducted by Vetstoria.

Locations of participating practices

Various – including the UK, Europe, North America, Australia, and South Africa

Practice Management Systems

Various

Practice Types

Independents and Corporate Groups