Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pet sitters: customer service and the phone

The best way to keep your customers is by providing good service, and the lifeline to your clients is the telephone. I have many customers I never see after the initial consultation visit. So we communicate by telephone.

There are times when I want to blow the thing up. When someone calls at 10 pm, I want to run screaming into the hills. But after they leave that message, the onus is on me to return their call first thing in the morning (at a reasonable hour). I have never set “hours” with my clients, because most of them are very thoughtful. Those late night calls are usually someone new who wants me to sit their pets tomorrow. No can do.

BUT, if the client’s flight was cancelled, they may need you to make another visit. Call them back to reassure them you got the message and will take care of it.

The way to build a good relationship is to return calls promptly. I am guilty of getting busy and then find myself sitting there at 9:30 at night with a pile of messages I haven’t answered. Bad dog.

If you can’t accommodate someone, they need to know so they can make other arrangements. If you have some contacts, be sure to recommend another pet sitter in the area whom you trust. Yes, you may lose the client, but if they were happy with you, they will usually come back. And either way, you’ll get some positive word of mouth for being helpful.

Follow up after pet sits with a phone call. People usually call or email to let you know they are home. If not, call them. Let them know you care that they got home okay and everything was satisfactory.  

In this era of text messaging and email, communication with our clients is easier, but less personal. I don’t text people unless I know they use text messaging. If they don’t have a texting plan, receiving my messages gets expensive.

If you are on a pet sit and have a question, clients usually appreciate a call. I rarely use the client’s phone; I always have my cell in hand. They are reassured that you are at the house and everything is okay. They feel like they’ve checked up on you, even though you were the one that called. Now they have an idea what time you make your visits.

Although sometimes the phone can be a pest, it is also a vital tool in your pet sitter’s toolbox. Return calls promptly and keep in touch with your customers by phone. Hearing your voice adds a personal touch to your communication.

Photo above: One of my clients, Rylee, a goldendoodle, learns to surf.

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Blair Sorrel said...

Greetings, Terry! Unfortunately, some dog walkers discover a danger, only sadly when victimized and so I wanted to inform you of StreetZaps, a timely and useful tool intended to reduce the year round risk of injury and fatality from contact voltage. Just so you know, I confer with Con Edison's Stray Voltage and Public Affairs Units and contribute to Wet Nose Guide and New York Dog Chat. It is my firm wish that Dear Labby will disseminate this vital public service as quickly and as widely as possible to preclude more tragedies. We will post a much safer walking film soon.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you.

In appreciation and with best regards,

Blair Sorrel