If you’ve owned a veterinary practice long enough, you’ve surely come across Veterinarians.com (formerly known as Localvet.com). This is the online service with a massive directory of practices online. They spend heavily on commonly-searched keywords and terms, attempting to direct pet owners to their directory. If you participate in the directory, you could appear when a pet owner is looking for a new vet in their neighborhood. Phone calls from their website to your practice are recorded, and if their voice recognition technology deems an appointment from a new client to have resulted, you pay them a fee of roughly $50. Sound familiar?
It is at this time that many practice owners confess to having once participated but have since cancelled. Either they felt that the fee was too high, or that they were being billed erroneously for calls that were no-shows or from existing clients. We’ve heard lots of reasons that practices have abandoned. However, having toiled through listening to recordings for years and tracking exactly how much revenue has been derived from the service for our partner practices, we are firm believers in the value of the product, albeit with a few footnotes that we thought we’d share.
First, whatever your perspective is on the program, reframe it to one where you just accept the “quality” of the voice recognition software they use. You are going to be misbilled, guaranteed. This is going to happen on both sides of the equation though. Few practices listen to every single recording, but we have, and there are certainly appointments made by new clients that you won’t be billed for too. Listen only to the billed calls and you’re going to have a negative impression of the service. Commit to auditing the billed calls consistently and the service will assuredly pay for itself and more. Don’t audit the calls and it will still likely return a positive ROI, only at a markedly lower return. We’ve noticed that the voice recognition has considerable issue with locales where there is a strong local accent. If your client base has a strong Southern drawl, for example, you should expect to ask for refunds on more calls than most.
Second, don’t just consider the value of their service as defined by the number of new clients they direct your way or the dollars those pet owners spend. There is immense value in the recordings themselves. Have your practice manager randomly select a handful of calls each month for review as a training opportunity. You will be amazed at what you can learn about the quality of your reception team just from listening to a handful of calls each month. You’ll hear really good phone skills and you’ll hear really bad phone skills. This will help direct your manager’s training efforts to the skills or staff who need the most help, making them more efficient with their training time each month.
In our opinion, this service falls under the “you get out of it what you put into it” categorization. However, if you take this perspective heading into your evaluation of it, you’ll quickly realize that despite the “high” cost of each new appointment, it will more than pay for itself in little time.