Remote Customer Service

Customers can reach the organization quickly and easily using remote technologies like text, phone and web chats.
This is a living document. Please share your feedback, ideas and stories.

What is HASS Remote Customer Service?

Remote customer service is all of the ways that animal services can provide support for the community without requiring an in-person interaction between the animal care organization and the customer. These no contact services can be provided via telephone, texting, web chat, email, or video chat. By increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction, organizations can assist more people and animals, provide solutions and resources earlier, and return lost pets to their homes quicker.

What problem does HASS Remote Customer Service solve?​

Historically, in order to get help from an animal shelter, community members had to come, in person, to the shelter. This is often inconvenient, especially for people who do not live in close proximity to the shelter or do not have reliable, pet accessible transportation. Additionally, many services can be delayed while community members are awaiting appointments, finding time to get to the shelter, or awaiting a response. Using technology to increase remote customer service often reduces these delays.  

Remote Customer Service Success: Olivia

Olivia had been eating out of a dumpster near a cafe when someone spotted her. She was spooked and ran down a ravine, getting caught in some briers. The cafe owner called the after hours line for Greenville County Animal Care and staff headed over quickly to help this scared dog. Olivia was taken to the shelter for medical care and she quickly found her new family. Thanks to the availability of an after hours support line, Olivia made it off the streets and to her new family in just one week. 

How Organizations Can Begin​

1. Conduct an inventory of what services you currently provide only in-person vs. those that can be provided remotely.

If you need a starting point, here is a remote customer service checklist a list of services that you could provide remotely, or in person.

2. Choose one or more areas or programs you want to begin piloting. Here are some ideas for starting points:
3. Choose your technology solution from the variety of available options in the Human Animal Support Services Technology Catalog.

This is a partial list so please contact us if you have something that should be added to our technology library! Some technology platforms are very inexpensive at just a few hundred dollars per year, while others are more costly so you’ll want to consider how you will pay for technology you need. Eventually, using remote technologies will result in a decrease in staff time, so you should realize either cost savings or a neutral budget impact.

4. Make a plan for who, what, when, where and how you will offer this new service.

While most remote customer service options will save time in the long run, they may require extra staff and/or volunteer hours while you are getting started. Animal shelters are already complicated operations and a change from in-person to remote customer service can impact multiple areas of the shelter.

5. Pilot services on a small scale to identify challenges.

6. Communicate with all internal stakeholders so there is widespread awareness of the change in service provision and people have a place to voice questions or concerns and get a response.

Communicate proactively and positively, letting people know you are working to streamline and improve your services to the people and animals who need your help.

7. Track your data to determine the results of implementing remote services.

Most technologies will allow you to see time spent per interaction (so you can potentially show a reduction in time per service) and the outcomes of the interactions.

Ideas to Increase Remote Options for Your Community

Website
  • Basic shelter information (hours, locations, and phone numbers) listed online
  • Instructions for what to do if you have lost or found a pet that include options other than “bring pet to shelter.”
  • Lost and found resources like links, forms, templates, social media pages, etc. listed on the website
  • Photo and location of lost and found animals on website
  • Pet owner resources online – behavior tips, information about public services, microchip and fence assistance information, etc.
  • Online reporting of complaints and concerns including neglect, cruelty, safety issues
  • Online live chat with staff or volunteers 
  • List of all animals in your care, regardless of their ‘available status’
Telephone Service
  • Scripts and FAQs for staff and volunteers answering phone calls
  • Non-emergency phone lines answered during business and/or shelter hours
  • Emergency phone lines answered by someone who can help most or all hours
Volunteers
  • Can sign up and complete initial orientation online through an automated system
  • Can log hours, share notes, read animal information, access records from the shelter and home
Adoption and Foster
  • Customers can schedule their own appointments online or via telephone
  • Fosters can schedule medical and other appointments online
  • Updates and important information automatically sent to foster caregivers and adopters  on a scheduled and automated basis
  • Fosters can access 24/7 remote help for emergencies 
  • Telehealth services available for adopters and foster caregivers. 
  • Access to important information available online and fosters and adopters know how to find it
  • Resource: Remote Adoption/Foster Protocol

Resources

The following documents are free for you to download and use as needed.

Key Benefits

Decrease length of stay in shelter
Grow volunteer support
Improve customer satisfaction
Increase adoption and/or rescue placement
Increase public safety
Increase the number of animals returned home
Keep more people and animals together
Move animals through the shelter system faster
Pet owner education and support
Reduce intake
Reduce number of animals housed in shelter
Save money
Save staff time

Get Involved with HASS

Do you want to make sustainable change for pets and the people that love them? Join our movement.