Can an answering service be utilized to give your veterinary practice team meetings a boost? With a well-planned strategy, remote team meetings will improve your internal and external communication.
Great communication means client satisfaction, employee engagement, and top-quality animal care. Although there are many solutions for a ringing office line, utilizing an answering service is one that can provide great results.
Navigating Remote Veterinary Teams
Being on the road is not new for some veterinary practices. With house calls, farm visits, mobile vets, and an increase in telehealth and telemedicine, many aspects of veterinary practice can lend themselves to working remotely.
In a time of national or global crisis, the need to work remotely may increase. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced veterinary practices to several realities all hitting at once:
- School closures.
- Employees caring for sick family members.
- Staff safety and health concerns.
- More home and car visits.
- Remote office staff.
These challenges can arise with any type of crisis or natural disaster. Business continuity plans must include a strategy for improved communications.
Communication Is Key
“So much of what veterinarians do involves communicating.”Dr. Emily Nielsen as quoted in 8 Things People Don’t Realize About Being a Veterinarian | PetMD
Right now, veterinary practices are faced with unprecedented communication challenges:
- Coordination with remote staff
- More home monitoring of patients and more calls from clients
- Need for assessments and triage in light of remote work
- New procedures for office visits and house calls
- Client calls to clarify changes in how business is conducted
- Less office traffic, resulting in more calls and questions from clients, staff, vendors, suppliers
- Improving business continuity plans to prepare for additional contingencies
- Incoming calls about pet health during a global health crisis
- Collaboration with other practices during staff shortages
With employees working remotely and so much in-office change, coupled with the inability to predict outcomes, stress levels may increase for managers, employees as well as clients. Pet parents have strong emotional bonds with their furry family member. When communications are most challenging for your practice, that is exactly when your clients most need to feel heard and understood and have their fears assuaged.
When your clients and employees are worried or confused, they will look to you for answers, assurance, and stability. Any seeming disorganization makes clients likely to look elsewhere. And a lack of communication with employees makes them discouraged and likely to quit when you need them most.
Remote Team Meetings Improve Communication
With a well-planned strategy, remote team meetings will help your veterinary practice provide seamless client interaction, even in the midst of a crisis. Effective remote meetings will keep your employees focused on what they do best: working together to provide top-notch animal care.
When so much extra daily communication is needed, it may seem there is no time for remote team meetings. Your tendency may be survival mode. But remote team meetings are not a luxury. They are an integral part of communication strategy for your veterinary practice.
Why Hold Remote Team Meetings?
Remote team meetings improve communication, accountability, and productivity for your veterinary practice. Through recurring team meetings, you create a unified and organized public face that aligns with expectations of clients.
With staff working remotely, it often seems that nothing is where your employees expect it to be. How do they stay productive and not give in to chaos and frustration?
Remote team meetings help with the vital work of team-building and navigating remote work:
- Acknowledging everything is a little bit harder when staff is dispersed.
- Reminding everyone to over communicate
- Helping the team stay on task.
- Finding solutions to any areas of confusion.
- Fostering collaboration.
- Giving team members a chance to voice their feedback
- Keeping the team hopeful and productively engaged with the business.
- Staying on the same page regarding client interaction.
- Encouraging employees take care of their own mental and physical well-being
Well-being Is Worth The Effort
Your employees love the work they do. But veterinary work can be stressful. The veterinary profession actually has one of the highest suicide rates.
“It’s not all puppies and kittens and wonderful experiences. There’s a lot of pain involved.”Lisa Stewart-Brown as quoted in Here’s Why Suicide Among Veterinarians Is A Growing Problem | Time
No matter what job your employees have, whether they are directly involved with animal care or remotely handling office management, they can be overcome with compassion fatigue. It is vital for your entire team to invest in self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance. If your team isn’t physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy, they cannot help pets and pet parents with their health and care needs.
Remote team meetings give you an opportunity to check in with your staff and make sure everyone is practicing a healthy work-life balance. Self-care is an important topic of remote team meetings. It is a great way to establish accountability for work-life balance among your team.
6 Tips For Successful Remote Meetings
If you are new to remote team meetings, you might find them challenging and even awkward. But with some planning, your veterinary team can meet successfully. Here are some tips to help you design productive remote meetings:
- Set meetings for the full team and smaller working groups on a regular schedule.
- Establish a concrete goal for each team meeting, to enhance productivity and to create a sense of value for the meeting time.
- Give everyone a specific role or contribution for the meeting.
- Encourage collaboration in the meeting and create ways to support collaboration beyond the meeting.
- Remember that people interact in different ways, so include different types of interaction in each meeting.
- Value the face time – don’t use the meeting to discuss items that can be communicated through other media.
If your veterinary staff is not acclimated to remote team meetings, you will need to find ways to minimize awkwardness and create meetings that seem natural. Think about times when your team has met or interacted in person. What contributes to good interaction? Identify those keys to successful in-person meetings and find ways to create a similar environment remotely. Ask your staff to contribute ideas for how to make remote meetings seem more natural.
Make sure some of your team meetings focus on items beyond survival. Talk about old and new ways to achieve growth in your practice. Collaborate on creative ways to use resources and time for preventive medicine, for researching and identifying solutions to challenges you or your clients have faced. Use one of your meetings to allow your team to brainstorm ideas for sharing helpful information (breed profiles, animal behavior, etc.) via social media.
With a little thinking outside the box, your remote meetings can foster team building and the growth of your practice while also creating a dynamic atmosphere for engaging with more immediate matters.
If Everyone Is Meeting, Who Is Answering The Phone?
Remote team meetings are not a luxury. They are a key part of your veterinary practice success. But they do pull staff away from incoming calls, at a time when the need for answering calls has increased.
It is possible to designate someone to miss the team meeting, so they can answer calls. But do you really want anyone on your staff to miss out on that valuable interaction with other team members?
Perhaps a staff member could sit in the meeting but take calls as they come in. But that would be distracting for everyone. And they would be so focused on anticipating calls that they would feel disconnected from the meeting.
How do you include every staff member in your remote team meetings without missing any calls? Have you thought about how an answering service can help?
With the highest quality answering service trained especially for the needs of your practice, you have a whole team backing you up. They can handle all incoming calls that occur during your valuable remote staff meetings and throughout the rest of your busy days, nights, weekends, and even holidays.
What Could The Highest Quality Answering Service Do For You?
With a professional answering service on your team, you won’t have to worry about missing any incoming calls. You can invest your time in the patient care, project, or team meeting right in front of you, and all your calls will be answered by professionals trained especially for your practice. Imagine a whole backup team who understands the needs of your clients and your veterinary practice.
The right answering service understands that it takes time and effort to run your business. Emergency care, advice about breeds, food or behavior, pet parents who are new in town, unexpected needs – so many people need your attention. You and your team cannot talk to all of them at once, especially when you are giving your attention to the patients in front of you.
How often do people call in for a quick need that you could fit easily into your schedule? Or maybe someone else on your team could handle it? You won’t know unless the phone is answered live. Otherwise you will waste time on voice messages and returned calls. Or the client will hang up and try elsewhere. People make decisions based on whether the phone is answered live, especially where the well-being of their pet is concerned.
The Right Answering Service Will Always Have Your Back
What if you had an answering service that worked seamlessly as an extension of your business, assuring you that every client, every inquiry will be given personal and professional attention of the highest quality? What if this answering service was trained in your unique business practices, processing calls and messages by your exact specifications? What if your answering service team cares about your clients and pets as much as you do, and are able to communicate in ways that make your clients feel valued and honored?
The highest quality answering service can help you gain new clients and new business, as well as provide quality communication with existing clients, showing how much you value them and that you are part of their pet care team.
When you know your incoming calls are handled by trained professionals who care about your business, your employees can concentrate on their work without multitasking to cover incoming calls, and without heading toward burnout. When you and your employees are covering weekend or evening shifts, extended hours or emergencies, you will know a whole answering service team is backing you up.
Demand for services in the veterinary industry is increasing, resulting in the need for greater capacity of interacting with clients. During times of uncertainty, clients expect and need even more communication. With staff working remotely, the need for internal communication is growing as well. This may be the right time to consider what the highest quality answering service can do for your veterinary practice.