The Road to Reopening: How to Communicate Protocol Changes to Your ClientsReading Time: 3 minutes
Across the country, veterinary practices – like many other businesses – are moving away from the strict safety protocols they put in place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to reopen, and how to do it, is one each clinic has to make on their own, but one thing is certain: you need to consistently and clearly inform your clients of your protocols, whatever they may be.
Here are four steps we recommend practices take as they reopen to ensure there’s no confusion among staff, present clients, or future ones.
- Consider Your Comfort Level
Let’s be clear: Reopening is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. There are veterinary practices that have lifted all restrictions, allowing clients back into the building with their pets. Some request that masks still be worn, while others feel comfortable enough to do away with them.
On the flip side, some clinics are choosing to continue curbside care indefinitely. They feel they’ve got a good rhythm going and are confident in their ability to communicate effectively with their clients by phone. Many clinics have found that curbside service allows them to operate (pun intended) more efficiently without clients and patients vying for space in the building.
Think about where you are located, the community you serve, and what parts of your safety protocols you’d like to maintain, if any.
- Talk to Your Team
Before you decide to publicly announce your new parameters, your practice leadership should communicate internally with the staff about expectations and intentions – and ideally, the conversation should go both ways. Outline your plan, but also ask for their honest input. The more open and transparent you are with them, and the more you listen to their feedback, the more confidence you’ll inspire and stronger your team bond will be. You’ll also ensure they have the story straight so that if clients ask multiple people about the plan for reopening, they’ll get the same answer.
- Plan Your External Communication Strategy
The way you announce policy changes to clients has to be clear and cohesive. Whether you opt to reopen fully, try a tiered approach, or maintain curbside care only, you need to carefully craft your messaging and tailor it to each marketing tool you have: your website, social media pages, even phone scripts for client service teams. You may also want to consider sending an eblast to your client list announcing the changes, including links to your website where they can find full details and FAQs.
Choose a launch date (with plenty of time to prepare) and start prepping your team in advance for the transition. Do not skip this step! It is essential to train your team members ahead of time on how to mention the new changes over the phone and in person. If you’re opting to maintain any COVID restrictions or remain curbside, ensure that everyone is prepared to answer questions and face pushback from clients who may be upset that they still can’t enter the building, still have to wear a mask, etc.
- Spread the Word
On launch day, update all of your communications at the same time. If your website says you’re operating curbside but your Facebook page has the new “We’re open!” announcement, you’ll confuse your visitors.
- Your website, Facebook page, Google My Business listing, and any other digital presences should be updated as early in the morning as possible on launch day.
- If you’re sending an eblast, schedule it to hit client inboxes once business hours open.
- Your client services team should be ready to talk about the change to all clients who call – whether they ask about it or not. Make it impossible for clients to hold onto misconceptions or show up without knowing what to expect.
Remember, you know your hospital and your team best. Decide what’s right for you when it comes to making changes to health and safety protocols, then make a plan and communicate it effectively. If you have questions or would like a hand in crafting a reopening campaign for your clinic, BluePrints Veterinary Marketing Group is here to help.