Kansas City—Generation Y is going to change the world—including how veterinarians will interact with their clients and team members, says Heather Lewis, AIA, a veterinary architect with Animal Arts in Bolder, Colo., who addressed attendees during the Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Conference held in conjunction with CVC Kansas City.
Lewis, a Gen-Xer herself, says the up-and-coming group of clients, team members and veterinarians born between 1982 and 2000 are the first generation to grow up with technology. E-mail is too slow for them. Gen-Yers prefer instant communication, such as texts, interoffice IM and social media posts. Good luck getting them to return your voicemail messages, Lewis says.
"Generation Y likes immediacy or face-to-face communication," she says. "They also like amenities. Gen Y team members may ask, 'Hey, can I come in late?' or 'Hey, can I work from home?'"
So how will this blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, Pinteresting generation change veterinary medicine? Lewis has a few guesses. She predicts Gen Y clients will expect the following services:
• Online consulting with a veterinarian
• Online appointment scheduling
• Online pet prescription refills
• Automated billing
• Text reminders about appointments
Lewis says these clients will also expect patient-tailored care, so veterinarians need to be sure to screen for breed-specific illnesses in their pets and use current technology, like an iPad, to show them all of their options in the exam room. "They'll be impressed with your sophisticated practice and staff," Lewis says.
Lewis also expects that clinics will continue to look less like a hospital and more like a spa. This is good for Gen Y clients because they're looking for a concierge-type relationship with your front desk staff. "These clients will be expecting anticipatory care," Lewis says. This means veterinary staff members need to be aware of each client's needs and greet them by saying, "I can see it's hot outside, can I get you some water?" It's ideal for the waiting room to feature comfy seating and maybe even a dining room table so clients can virtually wait in a living room.
"Clients who can tweet their experience to 500 of their closest friends shouldn't be treated poorly," Lewis says.