Customer Service at Derby’s Pet Fence Blog (perhaps a bit of a rant)

Today I tried to order a part for a piece of equipment for the business.  I had the experience that I have had many times over the years and I am sure you have also.  I called the company with what I was told was the needed product number.  I called the phone number I found with an on-line search.  I was so happy that I was able to find a phone number as so many companies tend to hide it (if they even have one) and force all interaction to be electronic.  I got the man’s name (Jeff) and proceeded to ask for the price of the part I needed.  He said I also needed a serial number.  So, I hung up and did more research and got the number.  When I called back and asked for Jeff – that wasn’t possible.  Why not I asked?  Because there were nine Jeffs at the company and I would need his last name or initial.  O.K. – Perhaps you can help.  This was Ben.  I gave Ben the two sets of numbers I now had and he said I needed a Model number…

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Before I lose your interest with the rest of the infuriating experience, I’ll give you the quick summary:  7 phone calls, never able to speak to the same person, couldn’t even speak to the same location since the phone calls get routed to various locations across the county.  Part is not in stock and no estimate as to when it will be in stock – so they said “two to four weeks”.  Under pressure, they admitted they actually have no idea and they are instructed to say “two to four weeks” in that situation. Other common customer service experiences are:
  • Telephone jail
  • Being forced to ask questions of a computer
  • Being told you need to look for answers on their website
  • Leave a voice mail and no return call is ever received
  • Calling a local number and speaking to an over-the-top polite person in a foreign call center.
  • Getting a real person who is local to answer (Hallelujah), but they aren’t knowledgeable and can only forward your call to someone’s voicemail.

My experience today, affirmed why we do things the way we do at Derby’s Pet Fence.  What I have described above will never happen at my company.
Michelle Lawson team Derby1
Michelle Lawson team Derby1

We have a different process. You call our number – a knowledgeable person named Michelle answers the phone. If she is on another call – she will call you back (usually within the hour).

In the spirit of full disclosure, there is a little more to it:

  • If it is after hours – Michelle will call you the next day.
  • If she is sick or on vacation, one of our other employees will switch roles and answer the phone (Robert, Scott, or Denise).  Robert and Scott are senior installers and dog trainers and Denise is the office manager who has been with me for 11 years.
  • If it’s the weekend – guess what?  Michelle will still answer or call you back the same day.  On weekends it might go to voice mail more often (Michelle does have a life 😉), but she will still respond the same day.
  • If Michelle wants the weekend completely off – Robert, Scott, Denise or Steve (me – the owner of the company), will cover the phone.  

We have a different process. You call our number – a knowledgeable person named Michelle answers the phone. If she is on another call – she will call you back (usually within the hour).

In the spirit of full disclosure, there is a little more to it:

  • If it is after hours – Michelle will call you the next day.
  • If she is sick or on vacation, one of our other employees will switch roles and answer the phone (Robert, Scott, or Denise).  Robert and Scott are senior installers and dog trainers and Denise is the office manager who has been with me for 11 years.
  • If it’s the weekend – guess what?  Michelle will still answer or call you back the same day.  On weekends it might go to voice mail more often (Michelle does have a life 😉), but she will still respond the same day.
  • If Michelle wants the weekend completely off – Robert, Scott, Denise or Steve (me – the owner of the company), will cover the phone.  

In short, we treat our customers the way WE like to be treated.  Does it cost us more to stay “old school” and ignore some technological opportunities.  I doubt it.  We have been amply rewarded with a loyal customer base, numerous outstanding on-line reviews, lots and lots of customer referrals, and many wonderful daily interactions with some very cool dog owners.

I am seriously thinking about changing our tag line from “We’re the Ones With the Rechargeable Collars” to “A Knowledgeable Person Will Answer the Phone”

And we don’t just have great customer service when you call.  If you ever have to come to the house to pick up a part (we don’t really have a location since we are a service company), these three receptionists are also on the payroll: Luna, Stella and Casper

They will make it a point to make you feel welcome.

Pictures of Luna Stella and Casper
Pictures of Luna Stella and Casper
Stephen Baralt team Derby

If you are in Louisville, Lexington, Southern Indiana, or any of the surrounding areas, Stephen Baralt is the owner of Derby’s Pet Fence and will be happy to help you with your electronic pet fencing.  We are a local and independent company.  We have a real live person answer our phone 7 days a week!  We give free quotes right over the phone.  In addition to installation of new fences, we are happy to service and repair any brand of fencing, regardless of who installed it.  Call or text us at 502-314-7398 / 859-327-7760, or visit our site at www.DerbysFence.com.  Prefer email?  [email protected]

Bonus Rant:
I was in the corporate world when the position of receptionist faded away. I never understood the excitement of the executive that was so proud to have eliminated someone’s job. The elimination of this position saved them pennies in the scheme of things. They didn’t eliminate the person who answered the phone and pointed people toward their destination, they INTRODUCED frustration and took away the first step toward making a customer feel welcome.

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