The Veterinary Voice: What Can We Count On?
People are turning to their pets for comfort. With many outlets claiming to be trusted sources of information for pet owners, helping the veterinary voice be heard above the noise is critical.
I find myself more aware of political and social upheaval, and the polarizing differences being conveyed through mass media outlets and social media platforms in recent years than ever before. I’ve made it a habit to ask people of older generations if they can remember such a divide. Many report that they’ve never seen anything like what seems to have become the norm for the last few years.
Is it that more people can convey their thoughts in real-time? Maybe it seems more intense since more of us have access to public forums than we have in the past? I’m not certain how today’s issues compare directly with those of the past due to real-time information and the easy access for everyone to express their own views. I’m certain that it makes many people feel a bit unsure and uneasy. When people feel uneasy or unsure, they tend to look for something that they can count on. Something that provides comfort and a sense of stability.
People are turning to their pets for comfort more now than in recent years. Pets are a comfort and a constant that humans can rely on to be unbiased and loyal during turmoil. People need that inner escape from the outside world, and pets can give unconditional love and support without any agendas or hidden attitudes. With more and more of us spending more time in our homes, we have increased our interactions with our pets. Pet ownership has also increased during the recent pandemic. What better way to relax or forget about the outside world than a snuggle from a furry friend?
Pet owners have reported spending more time with their pets, by choice or by circumstance. This has also created a trend toward more purchases of pet-related items. Pet owners don’t seem to be spending with reckless abandon. There’s an increase in per-pet spending, but there seems to be some judicious spending on the part of the pet owner due to uncertainty with the pandemic and the economy. There’s been an increasing trend toward online purchases versus purchasing products directly from the veterinarian. This trend has been amplified as people cannot readily access the regular brick-and-mortar establishments due to restrictions and safety precautions.
The veterinary voice
In uncertain times people tend to gravitate toward stability. They need something that they can consider a constant. One such constant is the power of the voice of the veterinarian. The veterinarian is the No. 1 choice for animal health recommendations.
However, there are many emerging rivals to the veterinary voice due to the amount of online information and opinions that exist. That library continues to grow. I call it Dr. Google. Helping the veterinary voice be heard is something that we should be focusing on as an industry. There is no replacement for veterinary services delivered by a veterinarian and the veterinary staff. Dr. Google cannot perform diagnostics, procedures, or provide services. The internet collection of information can only attempt to answer questions, educate, and supply recommendations that are solely based on the information that’s provided by the pet owner. Diagnosis of anything is often not recommended without an actual physical examination. Many ailments can be misdiagnosed by non-professionals only looking at the symptoms. Many ailments have similar symptoms. Diagnosis by symptoms only can point to many potential causes, which creates a trial-and-error approach for the pet owner relying solely on Dr. Google.
We should be partnering with our veterinary community to make certain that their voice continues to resonate as the single best source for animal health information and services. Our focus should be that of partner and coach to the practice. Animal health manufacturers and distributors alike have started to create and provide access to platforms that will allow veterinarians the ability to reach through that digital realm and become one of the many choices that pet owners can find as they consult the internet for their pet’s well-being. Pet owners are looking for things that they can trust in this world. The veterinary industry has always been a credible source for everything from the world’s food supply to the health of the individual household pet.
Providing your veterinary customers the absolute best possible customer service is one way to establish yourself as a true partner. Know what you have to offer from your company and other companies that you may be affiliated with. Take the time to get to know your customer and their needs. Ask them what trends they’re seeing during these days of social distancing and increased safety awareness.
Find out if your customers have plans to expand their digital outreach. What are they doing to be relevant in the face of more online pet owner research? Being a quality partner can also position you as a much-needed constant for the practices that you serve. They need to know who they can trust and rely on. Providing quality service and knowing your industry are some of the most fundamental and impactful areas of focus for you to become a trusted source.
Your veterinary customers are also becoming more judicious with their spending. More and more items are being ordered online by pet owners. This trend will not reverse any time soon. It’s more important than ever to know what the needs of your customers are and to make proactive recommendations so that they can provide the immediate responses needed to keep their clients satisfied. Do your homework to know what your customer uses, when they use it and why they use it. Veterinarians often make the first sale on medications and animal health items. The current trend is for the reorders to be placed online and not through the veterinarian. Help your customer to be more relevant in the pet owner’s search for advice and animal health items.
Be that constant that we are all looking for during these times of uncertainty. It will pay dividends for their business and yours!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
President of Same Page Consulting Inc.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/Eva Blanco