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30 April 2019

A Master Class in Customer Care

Today’s newsletter comes to you with some awesome information from two great ball python breeders: Mike Wilbanks of Captive Bred Reptiles, and John Dague of JD Constriction. Although both of these gentlemen are best known for their excellent ball pythons, the examples they set here can be applied to any species and definitely to any business, both reptile and aquatic. 

Sometimes you're shipping to an old pro that has received many animals and has no questions about how to handle them once they've arrived. But often, you may be shipping to a first-timer, or at least someone new enough to the hobby that they may not know everything that seems obvious to you. 

One of the best things you can do for your customers is include a document in every shipment that explains some basic, but critical information about their new animal. 

The information you choose to share may vary from species to species, or even season to season. It may include information regarding the immediate care of the animal once it has arrived, what to expect from the animal upon being removed from its shipping box, what to do and/or who to contact if something has gone awry, or any number of other useful facts. The document should be well-written, professionally presented, and easy to read. 

Here are two great examples from Mike and John. Below, you'll find a snapshot of their documents, with the text typed out for you to read. 

The first is an extra document that Mike includes in all his winter shipments. 

What to do if the Box is COLD

  • Sometimes if a shipment is delayed or if there is an unforeseen temperature drop, the shipment may arrive cold. 
  • Reptiles may be alive but appear DOA
  • Remove the bag(s) from your box and allow the animal(s) to acclimate to room temperature. This will take 30-60 minutes.
  • Never put an animal which is cold on arrival under a heat lamp, in hot water, or on a heat pad. This can cause the animal to go into shock and create a more serious issue than if the animal was allowed to come around with gentle warming. 
  • Once the animal has warmed up, it may be moved to its enclosure.

And here is John's "New Arrival Checklist" that goes in every shipment. 



Thank you so much for your business! In order to best help both experienced and new ball python owners, I have made this checklist to ensure that I do my best to fulfill my customer’s needs as best I can and that they have a smooth start with our animals. Please help me to keep my quality standard high and my customers extremely happy by going through the following steps. Any issues, questions, or anything I can help with at all, feel free to contact me! 

VISUALLY INSPECT THE ANIMAL. Double check to ensure that the animal you received is what you were expecting. Verify the animal looks healthy and overall is in good condition. Finally, verify that the animal you received is the gender that you had requested. (If you are unable to do this yourself, I suggest having a qualified person check this for you.) 

SET THE ANIMAL UP in an enclosure that is appropriately sized, with fresh water, bedding or newspaper, and at least one appropriately sized hide. Ensure that the temperature gradient is in the appropriate range (75-85 cool side, 87-92 hot side). Lastly, make sure that the animal is in a quiet and secluded location. The less noise/vibrations/movement, the better, as this will help the animal settle into its new home. 

DO NOT DISTURB THE ANIMAL FOR A MINIMUM OF 5 DAYS. The animal needs a few days to settle into a new home. A lot of times feeding issues result because the animal isn’t given enough time to settle in and is handled too frequently after it arrives. While I myself know how difficult it is not to handle a new snake when you first get it, it really is in the best interest of the animal to get it relaxed and feeding in its new environment first. After it has successfully fed, mildly regular handling can be performed. 

AFTER A MINIMUM OF 5 DAYS, ATTEMPT TO FEED THE ANIMAL. Offer the animal a live small mouse in the animal’s enclosure/home, in the evening after dark (~8pm or later), leaving it in overnight with the lights off in the room, undisturbed (no staying to watch). Check in the morning after sun-up to see if the rodent has been eaten. If no such luck, then please wait another 5 days and repeat this process to a “T”. After the first successful meal in a new home, feel free to switch the animal to a prey item of your choosing.

We’re not suggesting that you copy Mike or John word-for-word. Using your own design and your own words, with information specific to the species you work with and the circumstances of your transactions, this kind of documentation included in all your shipments may have the following effects:

  • Give your business an extra degree of professionalism
  • Give your customers a boost of confidence
  • Polish your customer service
  • Impress your customers and increase loyalty
  • Give one more avenue to build brand awareness for your business. 

If you don't already have this kind of after-sale documentation for your customers, give it a try!

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