This is why phone anxiety is the next big communications issue for veterinary clinics

Veterinary clinics are facing an encroaching silent enemy. No - I mean it, quite literally a silent enemy.


Does anyone else share this anxiety? #millennial #millennialsoftiktok #anxiety #phonecall #socialanxiety #genz #boomer #nurse #appointment #ineedmymom

♬ original sound - daquan

People hate talking on the phone. With hundreds of clinics using the telephone as their main source of pet owner communications, there’s a worrying trend of anxious phone users that ignore a pet’s health issue out of fear of contacting their local veterinarian.

Pet owners prefer messaging services over the telephone

Despite spending most of our time within arm’s reach of our phones, many among us (particularly millennials) hate actually using them to call people. In a damning study by BankMyCell, it was discovered that 81% of millennials get apprehension anxiety before summoning up the courage to make a call. It’s no wonder that news outlets have dubbed us as ‘generation mute’.

I hate using the telephone and prefer texting so this app is ideal for me. You get to chat to a real person and nothing is a problem for them. - Sara Fuller, 5* PetsApp review, August 2021

This doesn’t look set to change, as a similar survey by App Annie on Gen Z (those born after 1997) found that their engagement is deeper in apps than any other medium, with 20 percent more sessions per user in top apps than older groups.

In both studies, researchers found that both age groups preferred to use messaging apps - where communication can be typed without any face-to-face interaction.

Why? One explanation might be shame. As Dr. Lindsay Scharfstein ph.D explains in an interview with Headspace: “what people are typically afraid of is the evaluation or judgment that may happen when they’re on a phone.” And on a call, there is no way to hide or mitigate that shame. It's you, the other caller, and infinite time to embarrass yourself.

Uncertainty can make pet owners nervous about calling you

As veterinary professionals, we are more comfortable talking around some of the… shall we say, biological functions of animal health. I’m talking pee, poo, vomit, blood, nipples - for some, it’s the bread and butter of our profession. For others less well-versed in such intricacies, it can be easy to feel a little embarrassed over asking for help over a runny poo or peculiar lump. Saying the wrong thing or discussing something cringe-worthy can lead to us feeling overly self-conscious.

This persuades a worrisome pet owner to hope for the best, and pray that a problem might go away. "Certainly better that then pick up the phone and deal with cumbersome social anxieties," they might think. However, as we are sadly aware, it is well known that such issues could indicate a greater need for expert examination.

Similarly, pet owners worry about articulating their pet’s exact issue. They can imagine the panic of trying to explain something they don’t fully understand - without someone reading body language, reaching for the wrong words, or allowing the receptionist to see the pet in question. No one enjoys feeling stupid, so again put off the phone call for another time.

Pet owners don't want their enquiries to be a burden to their veterinary team

Comparably, we’ve seen that pet owners are worried about bothering their vet over something they perceive to be minor - and are thankful that their vets offer a service like PetsApp to make communicating with their much loved veterinary teams a little easier.

Great to ask a question without adding to the surgery's phone line traffic. - Anna Web, 5* PetsApp review, Nov 2020

Makes it so quick & simple to contact the vet about non-urgent issues… frees up time for staff to focus on the animals needing them. - Tracey Equestrian, 5* PetsApp review, Oct 2020

Millenials are so anxious, they now worry about your workload. Using a messaging service, they can flick their query across to you when they like - comfortable in the knowledge that you will come to it when you have the time.

The solution involves moving away from telephones to include easier messaging services

Not to state the obvious, but we are all in this to see that every pet gets the help they need, when they need it. If this is how the upcoming pet owner generation feels, we have a responsibility to respond to their needs and adapt the way that we work to accommodate.

Enter messaging platforms. They allow nervous pet owners to:

  • Send messages when it suits them
  • Minimise perceived ‘awkward’ small-talk
  • Include supporting evidence (like photographs or videos) of their pet’s ailment
  • Organise their thoughts in to a cohesive message
  • Understand how to best contact your clinic's team

This is supported by the BankMyCell study that demonstrated 88% of respondents preferred unlimited data (allowing them to message, or use apps) over unlimited call time.

PetsApp - developed specifically for the veterinary profession - allows your customers access to quality veterinary care on terms that suit them whilst also opening up a wealth of resources for your team. Recently, British group Pennard Vets discovered they saved three hours of inbound call time a day.

Learn more about PetsApp

Book your demo with us to find out how PetsApp can help your clinic today.

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