Case study: Your customers are already online – are you?
The biggest challenge facing business owners is how to gain new clients and better support existing customers. Many small businesses, such as veterinary practices, traditionally rely on word of mouth and low-key local advertising, but every clinic needs to be able to reach customers where they are spending their time. And these days, it is online.
Tracy Beutel is the Director and Veterinary Practice Manager for Vets by the Bay in Wellington Point, Queensland. She says, “These days everyone is web-based and looks online to find information. It gives our clients a way to touch base with us and have a look at what services we offer. Often the first contact that people have with our practice is via the web.”
The Consumer Barometer with Google says 90% of Australians and 89% of New Zealanders now access the Internet – two of the highest rates of Internet usage in the world. On top of this, technology is moving at an incredibly fast pace, particularly in the area of mobile phone uptake. In fact, back in 2014, mobiles overtook desktop computers for Internet usage.
Consumer Barometer research confirms this trend: 80% of Australians and 76% of Kiwis now use a smartphone– also two of the highest figures in the world. This highlights that it’s essential to connect with new and existing customers via their smartphones and make the best possible first impression.
It’s important for business owners to note that 81% of consumers conduct research online before making a decision on a product or service. And a 2014 Google study found that 50% of consumers who did a smartphone search for a local store visited it within 24 hours.
Tracy’s experience reinforces this: “No-one just drops in anymore; everyone looks at their phone, their iPad or laptop before coming in,” she says. Her comments underline just how important it is to have a website that is mobile friendly and able to be viewed on any device.
So where does a busy business owner or manager find the time to set up and manage a website that will reach and attract new customers, while taking care of existing clients – both of which are vital for business success? The answer is a lot simpler than one might think.
Henry Schein Veterinary Solutions offers Rapport, which is specifically designed to help veterinary practices with this challenge. Rapport provides websites that are modern, professional, customisable and responsive. This means they look slick and professional on any device, whether a smartphone, computer, laptop or tablet. They are also designed to help you appear ahead of your competitors during an online search and create a strong presence on social media.
Tracy found the experience of working with Rapport versus an Internet developer significantly better. “We initially hired a website contractor to develop our site. Twelve months later we still didn’t have one, and he didn’t grasp what I wanted. It was very time consuming, and there was a lot of back and forth, which was very frustrating,” she explains.
“One of the team happened to call in and mention the website option. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I signed up.” To her great satisfaction, her website was up and running within no time at all.
“This included choosing the template and colour scheme we wanted and the information to appear on our site. The website is full of information; it’s interactive, and it’s visually appealing. We are super happy with it.”
Her experience shows how Rapport allows your practice to position itself as a trusted source of important information. An excellent example of this is the Pet Symptom Checker, which provides your clients with the ability to assess the severity and urgency of their pet’s condition and have access to a comprehensive pet health library. It also includes client education tools to keep your customers informed of treatments and vaccinations and provides health recommendations to keep your practice visible with your clients.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from clients saying the new website looks great, is easy to use and has some very useful functions. For example, for mums who come home at the end of the day and have kids to take care of. Before you know it, it’s 9pm and you can’t ring your local vet surgery to make a vaccination appointment, so it’s really convenient to be able to sit down and book a time online.
The website is another way for our clients to communicate with us and get valuable information outside normal operating hours.”
Rapport websites can be regularly updated with relevant blog and pet health articles as part of your Rapport Web package. This provides your clients with fresh and interesting articles and information, which increase your status as a trusted advisor for anything pet related.
Maintaining and updating your website is also a breeze, according to Tracy. “I’m not IT orientated at all, but it’s still really easy for us to maintain. It is really simple to log on and change things.”
Tracy says the support from the Rapport team has also been excellent. “We can put through an online enquiry, and someone’s back to us within a minimal time frame,” she says.
Rapport’s suite of client communications tools can help you increase staff efficiency, market and grow your practice, bring more pet owners through your door and develop lasting client relationships.
 Google – Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behaviour – https://think.storage.googleapis.com/docs/how-advertisers-can-extend-their-relevance-with-search_research-studies.pdf