The concept of customer service is well-recognized, but you might not realize how vital customer service is for your pet business. Solid customer service helps pet owners feel understood and important, and builds trust so they feel confident choosing your doggie daycare or boarding business when they must leave their pet behind.
Why is customer service important for doggie daycare and boarding businesses?
Customer service is a vital part of any business, but it carries even more weight in the pet services industry where people are entrusting their furry family members to your care. Properly executed, good customer service helps your clients feel informed, comfortable and confident about choosing your business for their pet care needs. Doggie daycare and boarding businesses can attract and retain customers by implementing great customer service practices.
What are the key components of good customer service for pet businesses?
Good customer service centers on providing excellent communication, demonstrating that you and your staff understand and care about the pet, and offering helpful value-added services.
- Timely Communication
Clear and effective communication is one of the best ways to provide excellent customer service. Communications may be delivered electronically (via text or email), visually (through signage in your facility), and in person.
- Empathy & Care
Demonstrate that you see and hear the client, and care deeply about them and their pet. Ask questions, use direct eye contact and practice active listening. Communicate how you run and maintain a safe, healthy environment for their pet.
- Value-Added Services
Text or app updates about how pets are doing, live video feeds, daily report cards, streamlined online self-scheduling and engaging social media communications help customers feel comfortable, engaged and connected to your business.
Communication: What Updates Do Pet Parents Expect from a Doggie Daycare?
Clear and prompt communication is an extremely valuable customer service tool that can win and retain a customer for life. Many pet owners feel worried or even guilty about leaving a pet behind. Pet updates via text or email let clients know their dog is receiving exceptional care and comfort, giving them peace of mind. Knowing their dog is happy and well looked after will make them want to use your services again and again.
Keep all messaging consistent, whether delivering it in person, electronically or visually through signage in the facility. Use the same language, with consistent words and phrasing. Allow clients to opt into the types of messaging they prefer, including SMS (short message service, otherwise known as texting), email reminders and eblasts, and app messaging.
During face-to-face communication, staff should speak clearly and politely, remembering to look clients in the eye (despite those cute dog distractions!).
Some common pet parent communication updates include:
- Wellness Updates
Let the client know if the pet is feeling good and having a great time. If the pet is still acclimating, share what you’re doing to help them to feel more comfortable. For instance, “Max is feeling shy in the play area, so staff members are spending extra time with him there to help him feel more confident.”
- Feeding Updates
Is the dog eating their meals normally? If not, offer suggestions or ask the client for any tips to entice the pet. It can be normal for some pets to lose their appetites somewhat when boarding, but if a pet isn’t eating at all, notify the client immediately.
- Training Updates
How is the pet behaving? This is especially important in group daycare and boarding settings. If any issues come up, share them with the client and explain the steps you’re taking to address them. For instance, pet anxiety management
- Health Notices
Is the pet displaying any health concerns? Communicate your company’s protocol for handling illness, and let the client know if the dog needs care outside your facility. If a health concern is observed, notify clients as soon as possible.
- Emergency Notices
Nothing strikes fear in a pet owner’s heart more than turning on the news and hearing that wild fire, tornado, flood or other emergency has affected the place where their dog is staying. When emergency situations arise, promptly keep your clients apprised about the status of the facility and pets via texts and emails. They will breathe a sigh of relief when their hear their pet is safe, or be able to make arrangements to pick the pet up if evacuations are necessary.
Empathy: How to Connect with Customers When They Drop Off and Pick Up Pets
Drop off and pickup are often hectic times at doggie daycares and boarding facilities. The dog might be exuberant or nervous, and the pet owner might be feeling apprehensive or confused about their pet’s stay. Connect with your customer by using direct eye contact, actively listening, communicating important information, and asking if they have any questions for you. If possible, schedule a tour a few days before their stay so the client can see the facility, meet staff members, learn about your company’s health and safety protocols, and ask any questions they might have. Unless you plan to conduct a dog group play assessment at the same time, it best to leave the pet at home for these tours, so no one is distracted.
- Tour the Facility
Show clients where their dog will stay, eat, and play with a dog facility tour. Doggie daycare and boarding facilities are innately loud and aromatic, so it’s best to schedule tours immediately after the morning or afternoon deep cleaning, preferably while dogs are out playing.
- Review Schedules
Let the client know what times their dog will be eating meals, playing in the group play yard and in the kennel for rest periods. This is a good time to ask if their dog has any special needs, such as alternate meal times, or extra rest.
- Review Health & Safety Protocols
No one wants to leave their dog in a place where they might get sick or be injured. Knowing how you keep your facility and animals clean and safe gives your client peace of mind that their dog is in an excellent environment. Review your dog safety measures and cleaning protocols, and explain how you handle any health or behavioral concerns.
- Introduce Staff
Who will be caring for the pet? Take a few moments to introduce your staff members, sharing any special skills or traits they have, such having pet first aid certification or being especially knowledgeable about dog behavior.
- Demonstrate Familiarity & Understanding
Pet owners like to feel that staff members understand what pets need, and specifically, what their pet needs. Ask customers questions about their dogs, and keep notes about their likes, dislikes and any special accommodations the pet needs.
- Offer Special Accommodations
Although your facility will have standard procedures and schedules, do what you can to offer pet special accommodations for dogs with special needs or clients with specific requests. If these can be reasonable and safely met, providing customer service that goes above and beyond might win that client for life.
Value-Added Service: How Do You Differentiate Your Doggie Daycare?
Pet owners have plenty of options for doggie daycare and pet boarding these days, so stand out from the crowd by offering more value to the customer. Value-added services like these are a big draw for pet owners:
- App and SMS (Text) Updates
Real-time text or app updates, and timely appointment reminders help clients feel connected and engaged. Remember not to over message, which can be overwhelming or annoying, and cause people to delete messages unread or unsubscribe from messaging.
- Live Video Feed
Pet owners love the ability to check in on their fur baby while they are away. Seeing their pet having a great time brings peace of mind and might make them more likely to return.
- Daily Report Cards
Providing a daily report card does two things. First, it demonstrates to the customer that staff are paying close attention to their pet, which is a feel-good moment of connection. Second, the client can see how their pet did during their time away; if any issues popped up, they can be addressed for next time.
- Online Transactions
Many clients value the ease and simplicity of being able to schedule or cancel their own appointments without having to get on the phone.
- Social Media
Social media is an excellent way to connect and engage with customers (and potential customers), as well as communicate. Most pet owners love seeing photos and video of their dog playing and having fun at daycare or boarding, and social media is a great place to blast non-urgent messages.
What Software Can Doggie Daycares Use to Enhance Customer Service?
Pet business software offers many tools for your business, including your customer service efforts. Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions integrate and streamline many aspects of your business so you can focus on your customers and their pets. Great pet business software offers features such as:
- SMS/text, email and app messaging
- Automated reminders for package renewals, vaccinations, and appointments
- Consolidated notes and advisories about pets
- Customized report cards
If you’re considering trying PetExec for your dog daycare, dog grooming, dog boarding, or dog training business, you can try our software risk-free. PetExec can offer a one on one where you can walk through the entire business suite with a friendly staff member via a webinar, or on your own time in our free demo. Head to https://www.petexec.net/demo-and-webinar to find out more.