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In 2019, Steve Merchant, a former veterinary clinic owner, was searching for an opportunity to use technology to solve day-to-day problems for veterinary clinic owners around New Zealand.
After owning and operating veterinarian clinics around New Zealand for over 30 years, Steve recognised that pet owners had become more demanding in wanting answers to their questions and concerns quickly. He learned that increasingly, vets and their team members were feeling stressed and worn out from the growing pressure.
While looking to start a tech business that supported vets, Steve conducted a market research project, interviewing vet practice owners. “I asked them what were the 20 most commonly asked questions they received from their customers.” Steve identified a familiar trend – pet owners were asking a lot of the same questions, which took up a lot of unnecessary time for the vets.
A chatbot could solve a lot of these vets’ pain points.
“The veterinary market didn’t want an enterprise software solution to solve this problem, and there wasn’t much available tailored towards vets.” Steve knew that in order for his product to be successful, the automated conversations would need to satisfy the needs of pet owners without using a human to help them.
In 2020 when the COVID-19 lockdowns struck New Zealand, Steve found himself at home with little to do. Without the help of developers, Steve began building Digital Employees specifically for vets using Ambit’s no-code AI chatbot platform.
“I’m a vet. I’m a boomer. I’m not a developer. However, I was able to start building conversation workflows myself, and in a few months, I had something to roll out to the market.”
Steve named the product Virtual Vet Nurse (VVN) - an intelligent chatbot that answers routine queries and makes bookings easy for vets. Steve was able to sell his product immediately and he has continued to grow his business through the Ambit platform ever since.
VVN runs a B2B2C model, which means vet owners are satisfied when their customers are satisfied. With reporting tools in place, pet owners have reported an overall NPS score of 80% when engaging with a Digital Employee - a great result for the vets.
Since launching in 2020, VVN Digital Employees are used on 15% of vet clinics in New Zealand and have started to expand globally into the USA, Australia, UK, South Africa and more. Steve contributes a lot of the Digital Employee’s success not only to being a chatbot that responds to customer queries, but the Digital Employee is now an important tool that automates and streamlines business processes, saving plenty of time for vet owners and their staff.
“The satisfaction of our customers has increased over time because of the integrations we put in place to improve their business operations. Customers are seeing endless potential with their Digital Employee,” said Steve.
Vet practices are now using Digital Employees to:
• make booking appointments seamlessly
• rate their experiences
• scan items through QR codes
• automate pre and post visit surveys and forms
• earn additional revenue through drop shipping integrations.
VVN has partnered with Storbie, an ecommerce platform for buying pet goods and medication. Based on customer queries in the Digital Employee, vets can sell items on-demand directly through the Digital Employee in an automated way. Vets also earn a percentage of the sale without having to physically stock and send the products.
“Customers get a wow factor when they see it for the first time, they see it as an extra pair of hands. We then spend a lot of time listening to customers and can do practically whatever the customer needs done over time through the Digital Employee,” explained Steve.
From saving time to streamlining business operations, VVN has been able to use Digital Employees to solve day-to-day problems for vets worldwide.
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