I don't know if it's my degree in Psychology, my 5 years working as a waitress through college, or just what I've learned through owning Pawtropolis, but my main focus, and what I'm best at, is providing amazing customer service. There are ways to go above and beyond with customer service in just your day-to-day interactions that I hope you are all doing, but the real time to shine? When bad things happen.
You know what I mean by bad things; a dog boarding with you starts coughing, a dog gets sick shortly after being picked up, a dog gets a scratch from rough play, a dog gets an injury from an altercation, a reservation wasn't scheduled correctly, the client wasn't informed of an overdue vaccine, a scheduled perk got missed, a bath was forgotten...shall I go on?
The normal reaction to both staff and daycare owners is usually "oh crap" as they scramble to make the bad thing just go away. They cross their fingers that the incident won't show up later in an online review. They hope that the client comes back. It took me 15 years to let go of that reaction. Bad things caused me to get a knot in my stomach and sometimes even physically sick as I waited for the owner to return my call. I held my breath. Would this usually kind client handle this situation easily or would this show their true colors of being an un-trusting, un-loyal customer? Would they see through the incident all the way to my heart and know that I always strive to do my best, as does my staff, yet things can still happen? Would they know that I wished it hadn't happened as much as they didn't? I'd wait and hope.
My reaction now, and what I teach my staff, is much different. I now train my staff that when a bad thing happens they should ask themselves, "How can we WOW this client?" The "bad thing" becomes a challenge to all of us. What can we do that will impress the client even more than if the bad thing didn't even happen? What can we do that will actually strengthen our business-client relationship? What would turn this incident into a 5-star online review? By this simple change in perspective, it takes away that knot in my stomach. It's no longer a negative that I just try to get through. No. It's a challenge to me and my staff. We have to really use our brain. We have to put ourselves in the clients' shoes. We have to go above and beyond what they are expecting. We have to WOW them.
A dog starts coughing while boarding
If a dog starts coughing while boarding or in daycare we immediately separate her. Most of the time that means the dog goes into a crate in an isolated room and goes for walks for potty breaks instead of group outside time. We now have to tell an owner that their dog has gone from being in fun happy playgroups to being confined in a crate in isolation. Not cool, right? What makes it better? What if the phone call went something like this?
Sounds like a lot of extra work for less money than you were getting before right? So what. Remember, your goal is to WOW the client. Your goal is to make sure the dog has a good stay. If you go above and beyond this time you'll end up with a happy client. You'll turn what could have gone bad into something good.
Playgroup injury that requires a vet visit
Ugh, you've got a happy playing group of dogs when all of a sudden an altercation breaks out. Now you have a dog to dismiss and a dog with an injury that requires a vet visit. How would you feel if you were the owner and the phone call went something like this:
So you take him to your vet only to notice the seemingly small puncture starting to swell. Oh no...infection is setting in. It gets worse as you get to the vet. They have to put in the dreaded drain. This is the worse. Not only does it make the injury look and seem like so much than it really was when it happened but it is very difficult for a client to deal with at home. Bad to worse. How's the next phone call going to go?
Is it your responsibility to pay for all of these vet expenses? If you've got a good liability waiver form it isn't. But at this point should you care what is legally your responsibility or should you care about the best way to make this client happy and help the dog? The money you'll continue to make from this client and his referrals and recommendations will far outweigh the cost of the vet visit or any free visits you give the dog. Also, the peace you'll have by interacting with a happy client instead of an angry one will be priceless.
Client shows up to drop off dog only to find out vaccinations are overdue
Your mistake, right? You should have notified the client of the overdue vaccines when they made the reservation. So either you didn't, or maybe you did, and the client is standing there with a panicked face because they are headed to the airport and have no other options. Relieve their panic as fast as you can.
Are you starting to see a pattern? We do A LOT to make our clients happy. This doesn't mean that we lose money for things that are clearly the owner's "fault" or "responsibility" but we gauge each situation to determine what is the best course of action to make this particular client and dog happy. At first this might be hard to do. "But isn't this why we have liability waivers and say that the owner's are responsible for injuries?" Yes. But again, you have to ask yourself what your main goal is. I'm not okay with even one bad review online, even one unhappy customer. I can have 200 Facebook reviews and if even one of them is negative I'm going to reach out to them personally. If it doesn't get resolved and the review removed, it's going to bug me. In this day when doggie daycares are popping up everywhere, just normal good customer service isn't going to cut it. You have to go above and beyond each and every time in order to stand out.
So the next time something bad happens what are you going to ask? "How can we WOW this client?"
I'd love to read your comments on times when you WOW'd a client when a bad thing happened. Please share below.