The Pet Resort prides itself on delivering awesome service to its customers. During Christmas of 2004, at the Pet Resort’s busiest peak, we cared for over 500 pets per night.
Unfortunately for their customers though “customer service”, particularly bookings and phone calls, were ordinary. The biggest complaint was people not being able to get their call answered. The way the Pet Resort reception ‘used to work’ pre Greymouse outsourcing model, was a Customer Service Team responsible for check-ins and check outs, phone calls and emails. There were quite a few bottle necks in the system. Firstly if a customer came to reception, we couldn’t answer the phone and secondly, if a new customer was on the phone (new customers typically takes about half hour), then we couldn’t serve the customer at the reception desk.
The number of online bookings i.e. customers creating their own bookings via the internet was also on the increase.
Our reputation for prompt response however, was not good. People would almost always have to ring back and follow up with us. It appeared that although the Pet Resort was an awe-some pet care service provider, it was woeful at traditional call centre functions.
It was not that the Pet Resort hadn’t invested in trying to do a great job. They had spent money on work stations (there were 2 of them), network cabling, a state of the art telephone system, on hold messaging and customer service training. They were committed but always seemed to waver. The opening hours of the Pet Resort were 7.30am to 5.30pm 7 days a week and they were spending about $100,000 per year on keeping the reception desk “open for business”.
Throughout 2006 and 2007, the Pet Resort had proceduralized the business systems after working with a business system training called Red Day Coaching. This system encouraged small business owners to seek a bigger life by having more growth, more control and more time. Sam, the CEO and co-owner, set about writing the “BIG BOOK” of service delivery. She wrote every procedure necessary to fully train any customer service or operations team member. This meant that the management controls, reporting and KPIs were established. Even though the manuals were excellent in training new team members, the service delivery processes were still producing bottlenecks, with customers on the phone and customers on the front desk needing service at the same time.
A rather funny incident occurred, along with some divine timing, which meant that the Pet Resort and Greymouse ‘came’ together in February 2008. Jo Hassan, one of the owners of the Pet Resort, attended a business breakfast where Kelvin Davis was delivering an educational session on outsourcing. Mean-while at the office, Sam was in the process of sacking 2 customer service team members because they were engaging in illegal activities (no more to be said here). Sam hadn’t been happy with the way things were being run and she was at the point of “stepping back” into the role to sort the mess out.
Jo was listening intently to Sam’s complaints and she made the statement “Oh that’s easy we’ll just outsource all that stuff to Greymouse”. And then the seed (idea) was planted. It only took a month from that day, for that seed (idea) to grow and germinate. Transition into actual remote support was very quick because the procedures had already been written, allowing faster training then self-improvement.
In the beginning Greymouse simply answered the phone and took basic bookings and processed online bookings. They managed about 1,000 contacts per month. Over the next 4 years their scope has grown to a huge list of tasks including: personal assistant support, general emails, quoting, and invoicing, weekly re-porting, finance data entry, IT support and cloud provision and they even jump in and help with new customers if we were busy to give quick service. The Greymouse virtual support team is called the “Pethub” and they are instrumental and pivotal in their role. The Pet Resort has ridden the wave of the GFC quite well but clearly understands that without the outsourcing model in place, things would have been dire.
Today the number of phone calls handled each year is above 9,000, the number of website online bookings is 3,500, general emails is 5,000, web site chats online web site talking has just started making a total of over 17,500 customer contact points per year. The Pethub then processes about $1,300,000 in bookings each year from these contact points.
The Pet Resort now has cameras which stream live video to the Pethub so that calls are not ‘put through’ when the Caloundra-based team are busy with other counter based customers. The teams linked with live video feed allow seamless service, with real time answers just as if they are inside our office.
Sam, the CEO and co-owner of the Pet Resort, treats her Pethub like any other team members. They attend meetings, participate in discussions contributing ideas. She prides herself on the role of the Pethub and values them deeply.
Sam occasionally does get a comment regarding issues such as the accent and the ethical dilemma regarding offshore service delivery but she fiercely defends her position. Person-ally the accent doesn’t bother Sam, there are team members looking after pets based at Caloundra who have thicker accents than the Pethub team. The Fiji accent is clear and enjoyable. Ethical issues surrounding offshore service delivery is clearly debatable. Firstly the Pet Resort employs 25 team members who equate to 15 full time equivalents. The Pethub represents 2 full time team members so the outsourced percentage is 13% of the Pet Resort’s work force.
The other interesting fact is that the owners of Greymouse happen to live at Caloundra, and were even Pet Resort customers before this business arrangement – how’s that for a coincidence? Sam’s desire is to ‘deliver an awesome service and answer every call’ and if the business survival depends on outsourcing to Fiji, then all is good and outsourcing off shore is ok with her.
Greymouse delivers the Pethub and IT services for about a third of what it would cost in Australia resulting in a 60% saving. At the end of the day the Pet Resort holds its head high and it is very proud of the service it delivers to its customers and without outsourcing the virtual call centre systems to Greymouse, Sam is not sure of whether the Pet Resort would have survived recent economic times it if it were not already implemented.
The Pet Resort has expansion plans to triple the turnover in the next 2 years and the Pethub is a big part of achieving this goal. Without the Pethub it would simply not be possible or ec-nomically viable.
As business owners we no longer work in the business, unless we choose to. We have a team doing all the tasks for us as part of a system. We are now free to travel, explore new business opportunities or grow ourselves.
Jo Hassan, Pet Resort
Phone Number: 1300CATDOG