What a Millennial Pet Owner Wants

Millennials are now the largest pet owning demographic, and the recent crop of pandemic puppies are only accelerating this shift. However, while Baby Boomers tend to describe veterinary products and services as relatively accessible, the majority of Millennials believe veterinary care to be inaccessible.

That said, the news isn’t all bad. Millennials show signs of being highly compliant with veterinary recommendations - they are more likely to agree to routine dentistry for their pets, for example. This makes sense when you consider that they are, by and large, the first generation to grow up with pets as siblings. Their parents were among the first to truly see pets as part of the family.

It’s dangerous to generalise but it seems we’ve got a sizeable population of potentially highly compliant pets owners who describe our products and services as inaccessible. This strikes me as equal parts challenge and opportunity.

Millennials are used to being able to organise their lives without waiting on a congested phone line. They want to delegate items from their to-do list as they encounter them, rather than as dictated by opening hours and staffing patterns. Theirs is a digital-first, always-on culture.

In general, Millennials tend to want to be proactively involved in decision-making, and can require more touchpoints in the process than we might otherwise be used to. They are less deferent to expertise, and keener for a concierge style service tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

This has a number of consequences for your veterinary clinic. You need to review your customer corridor, and potentially some of your success metrics. For example, in a world where pet owners value high touch, digitally-augmented service - first-contact-resolution in the strictest sense is probably not the be all and end all that it once was. You will also want to more thoroughly explore the customer experience that occurs before the pet owner ever sets foot in your clinic, accepting that almost every interaction now has an online-to-offline element.

To some clinic owners this will all sound like a nightmare. Veterinary professionals are stretched enough without having to offer even higher touch service across multiple channels with extended opening hours, all while wrapping their heads around whatever the latest newfangled technology requires of them.

However, this misses the point, and beyond that - it misses the opportunity. Technology, deployed appropriately, can provide much of what the modern pet owners wants and needs, while reducing the pressure on the veterinary team.

“5/5: Using the message function meant I could clearly communicate with my vet when I wanted without phone queues.” Pet owner review of PetsApp

Think about it. How much do you love the ringing telephone yourself? It shouldn’t be such a surprise then that your clients don’t love it either. They don’t think the drop-everything and answer within three rings mentality is any more reasonable than you do. It’s not serving either side of the interaction terribly well. It’s just up until recently there was no obvious alternative.

App-based, always-on, asynchronous text chat provides the logical alternative that Millennial pet owners (and veterinary team members) are looking for. It allows pet owners to reach out when they need you and when that need is front of mind. It also allows your team to prioritise inbound requests at a glance, giving them longer to respond to non-urgent queries - something a telephone simply cannot achieve.

For anyone still ostriching - it’s time to lift you head out of the sand and confront the opportunity. Because, guess what? The lockdown, with its Zoom weddings and Google Hangouts with the grandkids, has made Millennials out of us all.

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