A day in the life at our customer support centre
Hannah tells us what it's like to work at a DT customer support centre, where no two days are ever the same.
Meet Hannah, who has been one of our customer support centre advisors for five years.
My name is Hannah and I have worked in the Dogs Trust Customer Support Centre for just over five years. The job involves responding to enquiries across different platforms, and as I’m a fully trained agent I can be put on lots of different areas, from post-adoption follow up calls, responding to emails or taking calls.
Every day – every enquiry – is so different, and when I log-in at the start of my day, I have no idea what type of enquiries I am going to get. Some of the stories…. you couldn’t make them up!
But what I do know is that we are busier than we have ever been, and it’s really taking it out of us all.
Until a few months ago, it felt like there was time in between calls, and we mainly took calls from people interested in rehoming a dog from us. These were mixed in with people calling to donate to us or just ask general questions.
Now it’s handover after handover; sometimes we do six or seven in a row. It’s emotionally draining. There’s no respite any more of people calling to enquire about rehoming or to make a donation.
But that is what we are here for. We want to help people, and for me personally that’s why I like my job. I feel like I am able to help people, and try to do all I can to support them.
You can tell the difference in the types of calls we are taking now compared to a year ago.
The cost-of-living crisis is mentioned a lot, and more people are calling us to hand over their dogs. We’re speaking to people who have tried to do everything they can to keep hold of their dogs, and they are absolutely destroyed that they are having to hand their dog over.
It’s not just the cost of dog food that’s the issue. I’ve taken calls from people living in their car because they can’t afford to live in a house. They absolutely do not want to give their dog away, but they cannot afford to keep their dog.
I think the cost of medical treatment is a big one. People are skipping meals to be able to afford to feed their dogs, but then they simply cannot afford the medical side of things, whether it be neutering their dog, buying flea and worming treatment or paying for insurance.
People are needing to take on second jobs because of the cost of living so are out of the house more, and the dogs are being left for too long. I took a call from one lady who was leaving her dog more than 24 hours at a time as she was going straight from a day job into a night job just to make ends meet. Sometimes the issue is property related. I took a call today from a lady who needed to hand over her two dogs as her landlord had, out of nowhere, changed the tenancy agreement and was not happy for her to keep her dogs in the house any longer. She’s a single mum, with no one close by to take on the dogs, so she’s had to call us.
Some of the calls we have taken are really emotional, and this hits us all, sometimes harder than we first think. I took a call from someone who needed to hand his dog over because he couldn't afford to pay for the treatment he needed. The dog was the same breed as mine and going through the exact same medical issues my dog was. I had to take a few minutes to myself after that call as it hit me so hard; I felt so sad for the caller.
Sometimes I go home and think that all I have done all day is deal with sadness, and it’s emotional. It does affect me. Some callers literally pour their heart out.
We have to be incredibly empathic with every caller; every person’s situation is completely different, and we have to approach every single call as if it’s the first of the day. It’s our job to make sure every one of our callers know they are doing exactly the right thing for their dog. Lots of the people calling us are struggling with mental health issues, so we have to be really sensitive.
When you hear all these people’s circumstances it does make you think “How lucky am I?”. I have a job where I am stable, my partner is financially stable. We can afford to look after our child and our dog, but there’s people out there struggling to feed their children. Many of the callers are having to choose between supporting their family or their dog, and unfortunately, in that circumstance, it is the dog that has to go.
When I first started this job, I used to get so angry because it felt like people were just giving their dogs away. But I learned very quickly that people are actually doing the right thing by contacting us. They are looking for help and support for their dog.
Dogs Trust doesn’t judge anyone calling us to rehome their dog. You don’t know what’s happened in their lives, or how their circumstances may have changed.
We'll help you make the right decision for your dog.