Virtual Assistant to the Rescue

May 2022 |

Solving the problem of clients on hold and no one to answer the call.

Veterinary practices are struggling to cope with high call volume due to staff shortages and increased client demand. Likewise, clients are experiencing long hold times as they try to schedule simple appointments or have prescriptions refilled, resulting in frustration, dropped calls and lost revenue.

We turned to Jerry Savage, CEO of VetPawer, for insights on how AVA, which stands for automated virtual assistant, can help.

How can artificial intelligence help veterinary practices answer a high volume of calls in a timely, effective way?
VetPawer’s AVA, a virtual assistant equipped with advanced voice recognition technology, connects the practice’s phone system and practice management systems and allows clients to opt in to speak with her, or they can choose to speak directly with your customer service (CS) team. Although you may have an online scheduler, well over 90% of appointments are booked by your CS team. With AVA complementing your CS team, she can serve your clients with no hold time and can immediately transfer to your CS team if necessary.

AVA catches the flow of scheduling demand where it happens: on the phone, instead of online. Many practices offer an on-line scheduling (OLS) option for their clients, but only about 5% of appointments are actually booked that way.

Explain how AVA assists a typical veterinary practice.
AVA is like adding several new members to your team. She’s available to assist your clients day and night by answering your phone to schedule appointments, process prescription refills and other important services. On the very first day AVA joins your team, she instantly saves your practice enormous amounts of time. Plus, she helps build your pharmacy revenue. And clients love her. It’s easy for her to join your practice—there is no I.T. involvement and the processes your staff members follow stay the same.

How does AVA handle emergencies?
If AVA senses there is an emergency by tone of voice, or key words like “bleeding” or “hit by car,” she immediately transfers the call to your customer service representative.

What is a typical payoff in terms of increased number of appointments, improved staff efficiency and enhanced customer service?
Practices have told us:

  • “We were planning to replace a FTE that left and decided not to hire.”
  • “Customer service has more time to handle in-clinic clients and perform other duties.”
  • “AVA is helping to increase patient compliance and improve our pharmacy revenue.”

AVA books an average of 180 appointments per month. The savings utilization varies from practice to practice, but if we use a fully loaded cost of an FTE at $38,000/year, our customers say that AVA saves an average of $19,000/year (½ of FTE) in salary/benefits per location.

AVA also helps with prescriptions. AVA will ask for the prescription refill every time (if appropriate), while a human may not have access to the refill data or may not have time to ask the client. When callers are proposed an Rx refill, 32% of the time they accept the proposal. The ratio of AVA Rx Refills/Appointments is two times the ratio of non-AVA appointments, increasing pharmacy revenue with an average of 20 more refills per month.

Discover more about how your clients can make appointments by phone without waiting on hold: