Our clients; without them we’re nothing
To state the obvious, we are a service business, meaning we are here to serve our clients. And without them, we wouldn’t have a business. Building and maintaining a good relationship with our clients makes our days more enjoyable, keeps business steady, and even grows our company as happy clients are always our biggest advocates. Our clients are entrusting us with their furry family members whom them love and that’s a big responsibility. It is up to us to ensure that the entire experience, both for our clients and their pups, is as positive and transparent as possible. To do that, let’s look at why they hire us, the importance of trust, and our promise to them.
We went over our ‘why’ but what about the clients? Wether they realize it or not, for the most part, our clients do share our why. They love their pup and want what’s best for them, want to provide them with a life of joy, exploration, and puppy friendships. For some, our service is a luxury, for many, it is a need. So many clients contact me because traditional walks or daycare aren’t working for them. They have busy lives and don’t always have hours a day to properly exercise their pup or they have a particularly high energy pup and the walks they do get in don’t cut it. Some of our clients have tried daycare but found the environment overwhelming or their pups were picking up bad behaviors. And some of our clients are a bit lazy and prefer to pay us to tire their pup. Regardless their reasons, they all love their pups and deserve our appreciation, respect, and to receive the best service we can provide.
“happy clients are always our biggest advocates”
THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE — They may have found us through yelp, a google search, or a recommendation from a friend, but their experience begins the moment they pick up the phone or send that email. On my end, I welcome them, thank them for their interest in our service, and begin the intake process. I go over what exactly we offer, letting them know hike options with pick up and drop off time windows, explain the permitting system and 5 dog limit, and answer all the questions they have. We schedule an interview and go over all the details of their pup, their personality, and life experience to get a good idea of where they will best fit in the group and what issues we may need to look out for. I get to meet the pup first hand to assess their energy, body language, and be sure it matches with what the clients are telling me. And during this process I let them know what they can expect from us: reliability, consistency, compassion, caring, professionalism, guidance and structure for their pup, exercise and fulfillment, honesty, experience, and knowledge. This intake process starts us off on the same page with clear expectations and begins the essential process of building trust.
ALL ABOUT TRUST — This business is ALL ABOUT TRUST. Dog’s cant talk, they can’t tell their moms about their day and wether their walk was positive, negative, stressful, cut short, or the most amazing day of their lives. They can guess by the way their pup is behaving, how tired they are, etc, but it is up to us to bridge that gap, give them report of how their pup is doing, what they’ve been up to, share photos and videos, prove that we are living up to our promises and establish that trust. If we broke that trust, gave cause for clients to doubt we are providing the service they are paying for, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild that trust and we risk loosing clients, damaging our reputation, and bringing down the business. We have a stellar reputation and happy clients who are our biggest advocates. To keep that, it is essential that you continue keeping our promise to them and providing the best service in your power.
“Raising a pup can be confusing, and our clients will often turn to us for advice and tips”
What exactly is our promise to our clients? How do we keep them happy?
First off, we promise to show up! I can’t tell you how many times I hear stories from clients who hired companies to walk their pups only to have them never show. I simply can’t understand running a business like that. It should go without saying but our clients should never have to doubt we are coming or doubt their pup received the hike they paid for.
Be on time. It happens to all of us once in a while. We overslept, lost track of time, got stuck in unexpected traffic, etc. It happens, we are all human! And our clients understand things happen once in a while, but regular lateness is a serious issue and impacts how clients view our service. Obviously with the nature of our business, the daily route and pick up/drop off times are going to fluctuate so rather than give a client an exact time, we give a pick up and drop off window of time. I give these times to our clients at the outset and often have to remind them of the windows at the beginning. I cannot tell you how many times I get new clients texting me at 9:47 to be sure their pup is still getting picked up. I have to ensure them that, yes, one of us will be there shortly, and remind them of the time windows. If we promise pick up and drop off within a certain time, then they know what to expect, and when we reliably show up during that window we prove we are trustworthy and are coming as promised. If we are late, the client worries their dog will be stuck inside all day, needs to potty and is uncomfortable, is bored and will become destructive, etc. And if we are continually late, we are breaking our word and giving cause to question wether we are actually doing the rest of the things we have promised. And likewise with lateness, if we are returning afternoon pups early, the clients question why that is. Maybe the traffic was just light and it was a less busy schedule. But from their perspective, their pup was home earlier than expected which causes them question why, and if they got their full trip in? They are paying a premium for our service and we never want them to question if they are getting their money’s worth.
Be Respectful. Remember we are coming into our client’s homes, their personal spaces, and they are trusting us to be respectful of their houses, belongings, families, and their privacy. And of course, always being respectful when interacting with our clients directly.
Love their pups as our own. We have to remember that owners always see the best in their pups and not all of our kids are going to be on their best behavior at all times. It is good to remember these pups all mean well and treat them with the love and kindness we would afford our own pets.
Be helpful. Raising a pup can be confusing, and our clients will often turn to us for advice and tips. And after more than a decade in the dog world, we have a wealth of collective knowledge. If a client has a question you can’t answer right off, let them know you will check with the team and help get them the info to help their pups lead their best lives.
Give them the benefit of the doubt. It is easy to make assumptions and pass judgement on who our clients may be and how they are raising their dog. And while they may not all be perfect, and may make decisions different from our personal opinions, it is important to know our boundaries and give clients the benefit of the doubt. Always assume they want what is best for their pups. If you have any concerns, be sure to let me know, many times we can help educate our clients to make better choices.
Communicate. Our daily notes offer a quick check in after the hike to let our clients know how the hike went. It’s a quick check in but try to add in a descriptive detail about the day and mix it up a bit so they don’t get the same note every day. If there is something that happened that is more serious, or requires more explanation than just a quick note, be sure to let me know. You may just need to turn the paper over to write a longer note, or that may be something that I would email or call the client about directly. Sharing any issues a pup is having with me and in turn with the clients can help address things before they become a serious issue and can help make our lives easier. Most of our clients wish they could be out with us on the hikes and are very curious about how their pups behave and what they do on our adventures. The more info we can give them via notes, and photos we can share via social media and our own site, the better the clients can see what their pup is up to. It helps them appreciate and value the service we are providing when we are able to share and communicate with them clearly.
We have some amazing clients, and through them, we are able to provide a wonderful, fulfilling service. When dealing with clients, you represent A Dog’s Life, you embody our mission and values, and your integrity, customer service, and professionalism will make up their experience with our company. By following these guidelines we can ensure we are providing the best possible experience for our clients, keeping in mind that we are lucky to know and serve so many wonderful pups!