In five months, the world has changed dramatically. Today, face masks are de rigueur, handshakes are taboo, and “lean in” has been replaced with “maintain a distance of at least six feet.” We are now focused on adjusting our behaviors and business practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and businesses are rushing to adapt to the new normal and implement measures to remain viable. Many are expanding their social media and online presence.
During the pandemic, we’ve been using the Internet more extensively and broadly than ever before. Need supplies? Order them online! Had it with home cooking? Order from a dinner delivery service! Wondering if a cut is infected? Schedule a telemedicine appointment with your doctor! This experience is teaching us that when a website is outdated, difficult to navigate, and lacking essential information, users become frustrated and may even sever ties with the business.
If you haven’t invested energy into improving the practice’s website or establishing a social media presence, it’s time to step up your game. If you didn’t modify and update your online presence during the pandemic, you might be driving business away. A current, comprehensive website in this time of uncertainty can be a significant resource to your clients and potential clients.
Your online presence matters
When a colleague wanted to find out more about the procedures airlines and hotels had implemented to ensure safety during the Coronavirus, she went to the websites. Her daughters, who were traveling to Colorado, were weighing the risks of driving---which would include several hotel stays and comfort stops---with flying. She found extensive information about cleaning schedules, disinfectants, sanitizing procedures, seating policies, industry collaborations with experts, check-in, boarding, face mask policy, and more. The sites also included videos demonstrating the use of electrostatic sanitizing sprayers and disinfectant wipe downs. Her daughters decided to fly. Although Mom was still uneasy---but she would have been with any decision other than the decision to stay home, the website information increased her comfort level.
We are currently operating in an environment where speculation, disinformation, and heightened anxiety are rampant. People are tired and hungering for accurate, timely information. Businesses, such as veterinary clinics and practices, can better engage with clients when their websites and online presence are responsive to the changes that are occurring on the local, state, and national stage and address how current services, resources, and programs are handled in light of restrictions.
To ensure that your clinic is adequately promoting its services and allowing clients the opportunity to use these them during shelter at home, limited hours, and a slow return to operations, review your internet presence:
- The website should clearly contain information about changes, including business hours and access to the building. If the practice is allowing only curbside visits, let clients know and perhaps include a brief video on the website to show how the visit is conducted. Use additional platforms to get the word out.
- Be sure to explain the practice’s cleaning and safety protocols. Post information to the website, Facebook, and social media. Good information and lots of it will reduce client anxiety and also let them know what is expected of them.
- If the practice is seeing patients for check-ups, preventive healthcare visits, and other non-emergencies, share this on various platforms. Again, when sharing this information, include details about your safety procedures.
- If the practice is allowing clients to enter the building with the pet, include photos or a video that demonstrates how social distancing is maintained. Again, these tools will make for a more informed client who is more likely to understand and adhere to the guideline of the practice.
Speaking of guidelines, although they may be posted in the building as well as on the door, it is instructive for clients to be familiar with them ahead of time. Go ahead and include the information on the website. Perhaps consider posting a humorous, yet informative video to further client understanding.
As you move to improve your social media presence to reflect a changing situation. Consider the following:
- Refresh your homepage. This does not require a complete overall. Go ahead and add some current photos, update hours, and procedures. For example, while clients may have been reluctant to follow-through with preventive care visits, post reminders that these visits are to the pet’s continued good health.
- Remove old information. If the practice has discontinued events and large gatherings that are usually listed on the site, eliminate that info, and possibly include a statement that reads, “Regular meetings and events have been discontinued due to COVID-19 restrictions.”
- Consider delivering content differently. Your business’ online presence may be one of the most important ways to get information out to your clients for the foreseeable future. Brainstorm, have fun and decide how you can deliver fresh and engaging content that keeps your clients coming back. Use videos to pull clients in.
- Incorporate calls to action. Add a call button or a chat feature so that clients can contact the office immediately.
- Take a second look at historical content. Although some of the content on the site may seem dated due to changing times, consider a simple refresh to make the content more current.
For more inspiration, be sure to explore the Partners for Healthy Pets suite of tools and resources that are designed to help practices create a dynamic online presence and become more media savvy. These resources can be implemented to promote preventive pet healthcare and better compliance, especially during challenging times.