Animal Writes
© sm
13 June 1999 Issue
"The Customer Is (usually) Wrong!"

by Kate Myers, [email protected] 

(If youíd like to be on Kateís mailing list for catalogues, seminars, and
newsletter, send your snail mail address to the e-dress above)

Customer service. It brings to mind that old saying, "The customer is always
right". Well, in animal welfare the customer is usually wrong! The challenge is
to communicate the bad news in a way that our clients will hear. The
relationship we develop with people is much more in line with the social
services client-centered model than the retail customer service model. We
are attempting to build relationships and change behavior, not just provide a
product or service. One of the most frustrating and stressful aspects of animal
care and control work is dealing with our human customers. Every animal that
comes through our doors has had a human attached to it somewhere in itís
past. It was a human who didnít know how to properly care for their pet; a
human who didnít understand the impact of breeding their dog; a human who
didnít have the advantage of a compassionate upbringing. These are our

If you havenít already, your organization (or you personally) might look at
establishing client relationship goals, because without communicating with
humans, there is no hope of helping animals.

My client relationship goals are to:

1) understand my own style, behavior, history and motivations and how they
effect communication with clients

2) be compassionate, professional and helpful in my interactions

3) promote the humane ethic and responsible animal care and control in a way
people can understand

4) meet my customers at their needs

5) provide resources within my abilities for all who need them

6) model healthy habits and behaviors

K8ís Communication Tips

ListeningÖthe key to understanding

a.. Act like a good listener. Be alert, sit straight, lean forward if appropriate,
let your face radiate interest. Believe the other person is important.

b.. Listen to understand. Do not listen for the sake of listening -- listen to gain

c.. React. The only time a person likes to be interrupted is for applause! Be
generous with applause. Nod, smile, comment and encourage.

d.. Ask questions. Clarify with thoughtful questions -- don't ask questions that
intimidate or put them down.

e.. Concentrate. Actively focus on their words, ideas and feelings.

f.. Smile. But, donít overdo it!

g.. Leave your emotions behind. Put your worries, fears and problems away.

h.. Get rid of distractions. Attempt to tune out noise by focusing on the other

i.. Share the responsibility for communication. As a listener, you play an important

j.. Respond to ideas, not the person.

k.. Use the difference in rate. Speech rate is 100-150 wpm -- listening rate is
500 wpm. You can listen faster than anyone can talk!

l.. Listening is fun! Make a game of how well you can listen!

Go on to Mad Cow Disease Warning
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