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20 February 2018

How to Blow Your...

customers away with awesome service!

Great customer service is a cornerstone of every successful business. A business might seem successful on the surface after a year or two of high profit turnovers, but without consistent, excellent care for its customers, it will quickly rot from the inside and collapse on itself.

Of course, entire books could be written on all the myriad of details involved in superb customer service, but we’ll try to touch on a few key points here. 


Good communication is key to the best customer service. It’s not the only thing, but it’s a really big thing. Clear, concise, and precise communication will allow your customers (and potential customers) realistic expectations about what you can and will deliver. 

  • Be Responsive

Customers and potential customers will reach out to you at all hours of the day. You shouldn’t have to be tied to your phone or computer and answer every inquiry the moment it comes in. That isn’t realistic or healthy. But you should respond within 24 hours, or by the next business day if it’s a weekend or holiday.  

If the wait will be longer than usual, have a quick note ready to send along the lines of, “I’m currently out of the office/shop/facility/zoo/funhouse, but your letter/note/IM/telegram is important to me and I’ll get to it as soon as I return on x-date.”

If you can, set aside a very specific block of time that you can commit to as your “business hours.” Not everyone has a regular and predictable job schedule to work around, but if you do, you should try to set up consistent hours of operation for your breeding business. It will take some discipline to stick with set hours, but if you can spell those out on your website and/or Facebook page, business cards, cell-phone and email signatures…that will give your customers a very good idea of when they can expect to hear back from you and when the best time to reach you might be. That kind of predictability makes customers very happy.

  • Be Concise

Use as few words as reasonable to get your message across, while still ensuring every important point is covered clearly. Your customers shouldn’t need to wade through long rambling paragraphs to find out the animal they are interested in will cost $xxx. 

  • No Excuses

It’s human nature to want to explain ourselves, even for simple failures like a delayed response to an email, text, or vmail. Try not to fall into that trap. Most people really don’t care if you had to work surprise overtime and then your car broke down on the way home. They’re just glad to be hearing from you. A simple acknowledgement of the failure, with an apology, is sufficient in almost all cases to reassure them that you haven’t intentionally neglected or disrespected them. “My apologies for being so late in getting back to you, I appreciate your patience. Now, to answer your question…” 

For larger failures, such as a promised shipment not going out on schedule, it seems these days that excuses are the only way to handle them, because that is all we ever see or hear around the social media water coolers. Between scammers (people intentionally setting out to defraud another person with false promises) and flakes (people with good intentions, but unable to follow through with business transactions due to lack of discipline and attention) we’ve seen every excuse under the sun. Most of them involve hospital stays and/or deaths in the family--always very personal and dramatic stuff. 

This has become so commonplace that even if you DID have a death in the family that caused you to put your latest business transactions on hold, if you tried to explain that to your customer it would send up immediate red flags. It’s really a no-win situation, because you can’t pretend the problem isn’t there. You DO need to communicate with your customer about the failure, but you want to be sure to do so in a way that keeps their confidence and maintains their trust. 

So what should you do? If at all possible, get out ahead of the issue before it occurs. Let your customer know the shipment won’t be coming BEFORE they take a day off of work and spend hours pacing in front of the windows watching for that FedEx truck. If you can’t take care of that personally, then designate someone to do it for you. Don’t share all your personal details and drama. Just tell them flatly and honestly, “Something has come up and I won’t be able to ship out your package. I am very sorry about this and will do all I can to make up for the inconvenience. I’ll be in touch again on x-date to set up a new delivery time. Again, my sincere apologies for this.” 

And then figure out what you can do to make up for that inconvenience. Perhaps reimburse them for the shipping costs, or offer a free animal or other product that could be included in the delayed shipment. 

What if you discover the animal you were going to ship out has become ill or even died? Just be honest. Not dramatic. Not emotional. Just honest. “Look man, I was about to box up that snake and I saw it blowing bubbles. I don’t know how this happened, but I will make it right. We can wait until I’ve had it treated by a vet and it’s all better before I send it, or I can send you another animal of comparable value, or I can issue a full refund.” State the problem. State the possible solutions. NO EXCUSES are necessary! 

Lastly, never, ever promise what you know you can’t deliver!

  • Be Professional

As mentioned in the previous point, leave the excuses, drama, and emotions out of your communications. If your customer makes you angry with unreasonable demands (and we all know they can do that with shocking regularity) keep your replies brief and to the point. “I’m sorry, I can’t send you any more pictures of that animal. If you’d like to purchase it, I’ll be here to help.”  

Part of being professional is being easy to read. Plenty of businesses succeed without perfect spelling and grammar in their communications, but it IS a subject that should be taken seriously. You don’t have to be perfect, but you should pay attention. Use spell-check features. Double-check your messages, letters, and texts before you send them. The more attention you pay to spelling and proper punctuation, the better chance you have of your customer understanding exactly what it is you’re trying to say, which will help avoid costly misunderstandings and angry customers. Spelling and simple, proper sentences also make you look smart and professional and will build confidence in your customers. 


  • Product

Whether you’re selling snakes, frogs, fish, or yo-yos, make sure the stock you send to your customer is of the absolute best quality. Do not send them out sick, injured, underweight, or covered in parasites. While this seems like a no-brainer, I’m constantly surprised at how taken aback a “business person” acts when they are confronted about mites or half-starved animals they’ve sent out.

  • Packaging

Your packaging is the first thing your customer often sees if they’ve purchased animals online. Make sure it leaves a good first impression. Use clean, new, or like-new sturdy cardboard with clean, solid ¾” insulation on the inside. Snake bags, deli-cups, fish bags and liners, all are inexpensive to buy in bulk and there’s really no excuse for using a dirty old sock to ship a snake or turtle in. You can get all the professional supplies you need directly from ShipYourReptiles and ShipYourAquatics.

  • Paperwork

For best impressions on your customers, include a professional looking invoice with a picture of their animal(s) printed on it. Feeding and growth records are always a good idea if you can provide them. Your contact info and a copy of the shipping label are important as well. If the exterior label gets damaged or falls off, it’s of tremendous help to FedEx if there is a copy of your records inside! Lastly, it never hurts to include a colorful business card, flyer, and some cool stickers. 

After Sale Service

The most stressful part of any business transaction that involves shipping is the actual shipping process. 99% of the time, everything goes great. But every once in a while, a package gets mishandled. FedEx is run by humans, and humans are notoriously imperfect creatures. Mistakes happen. Packages might miss the last truck to the airport, or get tucked away out of sight at a transitional hub and “lost”. Sometimes unexpected storms cause massive shut-downs and delays along the FedEx infrastructure.  

What can you do for your customer when this happens? CALL US! If you’ve shipped with us, then our job does not end with the printing of your label. That is where it begins. Call us with your tracking number and concern and we’ll take over from there. We’ll track down packages, get them back on track, re-route them if necessary, and otherwise do all we can to ensure your animals arrive at their destination safe and sound. You don’t have to spend hours on the phone arguing with FedEx employees that may not know anything useful. We go straight to upper-level management and we do all that legwork for you.  

Then YOU get to be the hero to your customer! 

Whether you want to quit your day job and support your family with a business of breeding and selling exotic animals, or if you just want to produce and sell enough babies to support your beloved hobby…taking care of your customers will be one of the main keys to your success.

Here at SYR/SYA, we feel it is part of our job to help you be successful in as many ways as we can. 

You can always reach our Customer Service here:

Mon-Fri 7am-6pm MST

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