Why One of the Country’s Leading Veterinary Clinics Text-Enabled Its Number

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Learn how Dr. Keith Hnilica made it easier for his clients to make appointments, request prescription refills, ask questions, receive reminders, and more.

Dr. Keith Hnilica is a board-certified veterinary dermatologist and the owner of The Itch Clinic, an animal clinic with three locations across Tennessee. Hnilica wrote the book on small animal dermatology, literally. After earning his veterinary degree at the University of Tennessee and master’s at Auburn University, he completed a fellowship at the University of Georgia—then went on to earn his MBA at the University of Tennessee.

As he explains, “I was interested in how veterinary clinics could optimize the marketing and communications side of the business, as opposed to just the medical side.”

While the focus is always on animal care, there is significant competition in the veterinary industry. A Yelp search for vets in the area comes up with 178 in Knoxville alone. To be successful, veterinary clinics need to provide excellent care for pets, and great customer service for their owners.

That’s why Hnilica decided to text-enable his clinic’s number.

“It’s common sense. So many people are texting now. Even my grandmother prefers to text than call. It’s a very easy form of communication,” he says.

One Number for Texts and Calls

The Itch Clinic already had an 800 number which they used for phone calls. SimpleTexting allows businesses to text-enable their numbers, which is exactly what Hnilica did. Calls are still directed through his clinic’s voice provider, and texts are routed to the SimpleTexting platform.

Today 3:20 PM
This is Joe Anderson. I need to schedule a follow-up allergy test for my dog, Nalu.
There is an opening tomorrow at 2 p.m. Does that fit your schedule?
Yes, thanks!

Next, Hnilica and his staff needed to inform customers about this new option.

“When we have a new client come in, we give them a contact information orientation. We briefly explain that you can call, email, or text us. We also updated our website and business cards, and sent out a text blast to current and past customers letting them know they can now text us.”

A Harris Poll found that 51% of Americans prefer texts to calls for customer service experiences. This is backed up by The Itch Clinic’s overwhelmingly positive feedback from pet owners.

“Our clientele has embraced the service. They’re clearly excited about the option of texting rather than having to play telephone tag,” says Hnilica.

Everything from Thank Yous to Emergencies

Customers can now text The Itch Clinic for all of their needs, whether they want to make an appointment or provide Hnilica with an update on their pet’s status.

Today 1:15 PM
Maxie is feeling a lot better after the treatment and has stopped scratching herself. Thank you so much!
We’re very happy to hear that. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything else.

The Itch Clinic has a staff member in charge of replying to messages. However, Hnilica jumps in if there is a medical question. This has been especially beneficial, he says, during off-hours.

“From a medical energy standpoint, it’s been very useful. If a client is having an emergency or postoperative complication, they get instant access to me.”

Hnilica has the SimpleTexting app on his phone. If someone texts the clinic’s number, he’s alerted right away. He also has SimpleTexting open at his computer terminals.

“This way, I can always glance at what’s coming in and out and jump in if necessary. I can have real-time monitoring in an incredibly simple, user-friendly way.”

Texting Isn’t Just Convenient, It’s Good Business

A report from American Express found that U.S. consumers are willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, up from 14% in 2014. Service isn’t a cost, it’s a sales opportunity. Business texting is one way to turn new clients into advocates.

As Hnilica puts it, “It’s important for me to run my practice as a successful small business that’s customer-focused. Texting helps us do that.”

Are you curious about how you can use text messages to delight your customers? Sign up today for a 14-day free trial. We’ll set you up with a complimentary toll-free number which you can keep if you decide to upgrade! Or, of course, you can text-enable your number just like The Itch Clinic.

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