Time well spent at a Pet Cafe

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Hello readers!

I usually write my articles about concepts related to the field of User Experience. For a change, I decided to write about a wonderful, memorable and wholesome experience I witnessed at a Pet Cafe. 

Before I go ahead, let me just give you a definition of what ‘Pet Cafe” means. 

Wikipedia defines Pet cafes as:

“An animal cafe, also known as a pet cafe is a place where people can see and interact with various animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, owls, or sheep while they enjoy food and drinks.” As per history, the first pet cafe was established in Taiwan in 1998, starting initially with cats and later on adding other pet animals.

Interesting, right? Let’s say that I cannot have a pet in my apartment or can’t afford the expenses of taking care of one – all I need to do is go to a pet cafe, pay some cash on hourly basis (which is affordable in most cases) and spend some quality time with a pet of my choice. Apart from petting animals, pet cafes provide a “cafe ambiance” as well, where you can sip your favorite coffee/drinks and nibble on some sandwiches and other refreshments.

I currently reside in Japan and during summer vacation, my kids and I visited a Pet cafe, specifically a Dog cafe in Harajuku, Tokyo to spend some quality time with dogs. It was a really hot and humid day and despite the weather, we decided to go as my kids love dogs and many of our friends gave good reviews about their services and hospitality. Being a Japanese cafe, they had English assistants to help foreigners.

To start the day, we took two trains from home with the help of Google map and reached the cafe which was less than a kilometer away from the railway station. It was a small place and they had two floors – the first floor for hamsters and second floor for dogs. We took the stairs, but they had elevators for accessibility to disabled customers.

As soon as we entered the cafe, the receptionist greeted my kids politely and offered them juice, anticipating our need, as they knew the hot outside would make my kids thirsty. She then offered me a drink of my choice and knowing that we were foreigners, she took us to the English assistant who was very friendly and informative. She mentioned all the hourly rates including food and drinks provided within each package. 

She told me that since my daughter was only 3 years old, they would offer her a specific puppy that wouldn’t bite her, so that she wouldn’t miss out on a chance to pet.

After the payment procedures were done, we were taken to a room with dogs of many sizes who were very well trained. You can see the collage below to see the smiles on my kids when they were with the dogs:

Apart from that, refreshments were provided for kids and adults while we were petting them. Dog foods, combs, and other accessories were given to us as well to make sure we had a homely environment.

When the time was up, they gave chart papers to kids with their names and the footprints of the dogs that they petted. Photographs were taken as well so that we could cherish those moments. We were then taken to the washroom to wash our hands with septic lotion, just to ensure that allergies don’t come up. The employees then sent us out with a smile and told us that on birthdays, we would get special services to pet the dogs and we could take them out walking in parks, malls, etc. To remind us about these services, they would notify us via email or SMS.

After wonderful noon, we reached home with a positive mind and inner peace. Many months later, my kids wouldn’t stop talking about their experience at the dog cafe to many of our relatives and friends, even though we had visited other famous tourist attractions (I am talking about the ‘Legoland’, ‘Disneyland’ etc).

In a previous article “A memorable restaurant experience” written by Devi Ravindran, she wrote that Customer experience is an area that requires constant nurturing and care. This will have a positive impact on customer loyalty and thereby increase revenue. 

In another article – “Xperience: The sum of all interactions” written by Malu Nair, she wrote that “User Experience is also about how you treat your customers in the whole process from onboarding to offboarding.” Both these quotes mentioned by my friends are true and this is one such example to prove it. 

We being UX Designers need to keep in mind the following quote by Jacob Nielson – “User Experience encompasses all the aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and it’s products.” From the beginning till the end of this specific event, everything was anticipated as per our expectations, the services provided were impeccable and of course, the dogs were simply adorable.