Author's note: Please note that I have no business affiliation with the company featured in this post. This information is based solely on my personal experience.

It was disheartening to have three very frustrating customer service experiences within one week, but that's exactly what happened to me last week. It really made me think; aren't organizations paying attention to the evolution taking place in the world of customer service? Don't they know that customer service that includes empathy and solutions that satisfy must be a priority within every company, large and small?

Customer service used to be just that--a service process that answers questions, collects complaints, and facilitates returns and exchanges. The crabby lady behind the desk was only a means to an end, and that's all we expected from the system. Today, as companies seek to build relationships with their customers, customer service is a top marketing strategy and priority.

Luckily, I ended my week with an extraordinary customer service experience with the online pet supply company, Chewy. Below is the exchange I had with the company when I had difficulty figuring out how to cancel my account for a very unfortunate reason. This is how customer service is done in 2019.

My initial message:

Hi,

Sadly, we had to put my beloved dog to rest last week. After years of being a Chewy.com auto-ship customer, I'm afraid I must cancel my account. I don't want to leave my credit card information out there unnecessarily. I cannot figure out how to remove this information, can you help?

Thank you for years of outstanding service.

Chewy's response:

Hey there Marla, (They spelled my name right, great start!)

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. We can absolutely help. I've removed all sensitive information from your account, and you're all set. (They actually did the work for me.) Your account can be reactivated at any time by calling us at 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx and confirming a few details.

Here at Chewy we are all pet parents and can completely understand how hard this time might be for you. We know our animals aren't just pets, they're family. We know it can help to talk to other folks who can relate so always feel free to reach out. We're here for you now and we'll be here in the months and years ahead. As your heart heals and you have time to consider opening your heart and home to a new furry blessing in need, know that we'll always be here for you.

May the furs be with you. (This made me smile.)

Clay M.
Customer Service
Chewy

My response:

Thank you for the thoughtful response, and for seeing to my account. I appreciate it, Clay. Yes, it is indeed a very difficult time. 

Perhaps another pet is in my future, but I'm going solo for a while. I'll certainly be back if that changes! (And, I meant it.)

They didn't stop there. 

Hi Marla,

It's our pleasure! We just want you to know we are always here for you and that we truly do care. It's not always easy losing a friend, but please know there are better days to come! Have a wonderful Thursday and let us know if you need anything at all.

Naturally, I shared my experience on social media.

As a result of this touching experience, I posted the company's response on my Facebook page. Many people commented, some adding that their experience with the company has been outstanding as well. One said she actually received flowers from this company when her pet passed. Others, who had never used the online service, said they would look into it. I became a vocal advocate and Chewy has likely gained some customers because of it.

How can a small business like yours provide such great service? Here are four points to consider. 

1. Your employee experience becomes your customer experience.

Great customer care begins with your culture. When your employees have a great internal experience, it will be echoed in how they treat your customers. When your team is educated on company values, goals, and mission you will have a cohesive approach to customer service, which becomes a powerful part of your brand.

2. View customer satisfaction as an investment.

Small business owners worry about the expense of replacing an item or otherwise meeting a customer's needs, but that's not what should influence your policies. Instead, consider the long-term value of providing exemplary service. Every expense involved in meeting a customer's needs is an investment in your future success.

3. Empower your employees.

When a customer calls for help, they don't want to hear about your restrictive policy. Nor do they want to be passed along to someone else, or wait days for the answers they seek. Give your employees the power to meet your customers' needs. Also, hire employees whose personality fits within your culture and reflects your company's values.

4. Make it easy to connect.

Chatbots (also referred to as customer care bots) and other forms of artificial intelligence will satisfy basic customer needs and desire for convenience, but a great company offers an omnichannel experience. Twitter recently reported that, according to Sprinklr, 80% of consumers engage with brands online, and 54% of customers prefer social messaging channels for care instead of phone or email. Don't forget that a large percentage of your customers are using their mobile device to connect, so make sure every form of connection is mobile-friendly. Also, remember that voice contact is not dead, people still want that personal touch.

As you build upon your marketing and sales strategy remember that customer service now falls into this category. There's nothing as powerful as super fans to spread the word of your brand.

Published on: Feb 25, 2019