Should your veterinary practice choose text messaging or SMS reminders as part of your client communications suite? What’s the difference? Aren’t they practically the same? It’s just part of a reminder service, right? Maybe your veterinary practice already uses SMS reminders, but should you add text messaging as well? Or, vice versa?
Evaluating the use of text messaging or SMS reminders for your veterinary practice can be a little confusing. Let’s take a look at the two and understand the differences so you can confidently choose how the decision impacts profits and patient care.
What are Text Messaging and SMS Reminders?
SMS = Short Message Service. And it is exactly that. It is short, text only in nature and when used as part of a reminder service, usually one-way. Can be used to describe text messaging. Limited engagement with the client.
MMS = Multimedia Messaging Service. Is also used to describe text messaging, however, it includes the use of mixed media such as photos, videos, gifs and more. Usually two-way communications.
SMS Reminders are used to describe a text messaging service that sends text-only messages to clients and asks them to respond via calling back or typing a number or short response to reply to that message. 2-way communications cannot happen in that thread and it offers limited interaction with the client.
Text messaging for this article’s purpose is being used to describe how people regularly use mobile devices to communicate. It is almost always with images and video, links to learn more and if you’re in my contact list, lots of hilarious, comedically-timed gifs. So, text messaging for veterinary practice client communications includes multimedia messages accompanied by text messages and involves two-way communications.
Text messaging in Hippo Manager combines SMS and MMS, is two-way communications and similar to a chat (think Facebook messenger).
Already it’s pretty clear which one offers more capabilities, but let’s go a little deeper.
A Little Client Communications Background Info
Veterinary practice client communications can involve a lot of moving parts. Client communications suites can typically involve a few or, all of these elements:
But does your practice need all of these?
Research shows that the more techniques used at a practice can produce a higher rate of appointment compliance. That doesn’t mean using all methods for all clients, in fact, it is tactfully choosing which methods each client prefers is what gains your practice trust, loyalty and repeat business.
Adding on all the features can mean adding on a lot more costs too. We recommend using built-in features in Hippo Manager like the patient portal, generating phone callback lists and email reminders first and then gauge the success. Furthermore, these features are free and included in every subscription with Hippo Manager.
Why Use Texting and SMS Reminders?
It’s no secret that in today’s climate, clients are more receptive to digital mediums such as email and texting. So, even though client communication tools can be free, it doesn’t mean they’re the right ones for your practice or clients. This is especially if true if a practice is looking to grow appointment compliance, loyalty, and practice profits.
Text messaging and SMS reminders are always an add-on service and will require an investment. Furthermore, we know that clients are more inclined to be responsive to text messaging and SMS reminders.
Text cell phone messages do, for example, have a 100% delivery rate and a 70%+ open rate. AND with success rates like that, the ROI (return on investment) becomes pretty clear.
What’s the Difference Between Text Messaging and SMS Reminders?
The most obvious difference between text messaging and SMS reminders is that SMS reminders are one-way. A client has limited interaction with an SMS reminder sent to their mobile device. If there is an option to reply to the SMS message, usually, it is “call this number to confirm”, “press 1 for YES 2 for NO” and so on.
So, SMS reminders are very limited.
It is a reminder service for an appointment. A quick reminder to encourage a client to book again or have their pet seen.
It is just a reminder.
Text messaging in Hippo Manager (using Zipwhip) is two-way and goes beyond just reminders. It can be used for reminders, but it’s really a superior communication tool. That means that tailored messages can be sent (not just reminders) to clients, and clients can text back and take immediate action, two-way communications can continue in the same thread.
The client who is more engaged with your veterinary practice communications is more likely to come back and become loyal.
Not only does text messaging in Hippo Manager produce more loyalty and thus practice profits, but text messaging can also improve patient care. Easily send a photo of a pet post-op to the owner. Utilize text messaging and MMS as part of telemedicine and receive patient photos and videos to help diagnose a health issue and streamline appointments.
Text messaging in Hippo Manager enables veterinarians to gain a better work-life balance, manage patient care and business functions from anywhere and on any device. Text messaging is interactive, encourages two-way communication and offers opportunities for better patient care and from anywhere.
TO SUMMARIZE: Text messaging goes beyond just reminders, it is personal and more interactive, you can send and receive photos and videos and text messaging functions as a chat between the veterinary practice and client. SMS reminders are typically one-way, offer limited options to engage the client and don’t assist in better patient care (can’t send and receive patient photos and videos).
Choosing Between Text Messaging and SMS Reminders
When it comes to making the choice between the two, what is it that your veterinary practice would like to “get out” of text messaging or SMS reminders?
- HIgher appointment compliance?
- Client loyalty and better engagement?
- Better communications about patient care?
- Ability to perform duties without being tied to the clinic?
- Provide new services like telemedicine to clients?
Well, if it’s any or ALL of the above, the answer is text messaging with Zipwhip in Hippo Manager. If it’s just generally higher appointment compliance and maybe a little more client loyalty, SMS reminders can probably do the trick.
But, in an ever-evolving veterinary industry and world where consumers demand the latest and most personalized experiences, your veterinary practice is best set for success with two-way text messaging.
(our faces when we get texts of our cutie pets at our vet)
The Benefits of Text Messaging VS SMS Reminders
Text messaging in Hippo Manager when used by veterinary practices include the following benefits:
- Ability to practice veterinary telemedicine.
- Aid in achieving work-life balance – work from anywhere, communicate anytime.
- Streamlined appointments – communicate client needs via texting, photos, and videos prior to the appointment.
- Better patient care – get footage and images of patients sent to the clinic, store unlimited in the patient file with Hippo Manager. Use for reference for ongoing care.
- Enhanced client communications – chat to clients back and forth, use alongside images and video to get a clearer understanding, two-way like a chat.
- Autoreplies and automated messages – saves staff time.
- Scheduled messages – send reminders more than just once, send in bulk.
- Higher client engagement = higher appointment compliance = stronger loyalty = repeat business = more profits.
- Better response rate than SMS reminders, highest open rate of any client communications strategy (phone callbacks, email reminders, SMS reminders, patient portal etc..).
- Ability to send satisfaction surveys and evaluate veterinary practice NPS score.
- Personalized interactions for better follow-ups.
Hippo Manager offers text messaging through Zipwhip to all partner practices. No cell phone is needed and unlimited texting with photos, video, up to 10 users and with scheduled messages is included for one flat price per month. Get a free trial here.
Compared with SMS reminder benefits:
- Can boost appointment compliance when used alongside another service like postcards
- Scheduled messages – can send in bulk
- Limited engagement – “press 1 for yes 2 for no” versus actual two-way chatting
- Automated, limited reply options
So…..What’s the Vote then?
Phew! We definitely sorted through all the pros and cons of text messaging versus SMS reminders!
AND, drum roll, the vote is in!
It’s pretty clear then that text messaging is a more efficient and cost-effective solution for veterinary practice client communications. Drive engagement and loyalty and elevate your veterinary practice through telemedicine options with text messaging in Hippo Manager.
Get a free trial of Hippo Manager text messaging services here. Contact our team for more information by calling or texting us (we use Zipwhip too!) 877.819.1059 and email us here.
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