Costco, another company offering top-notch customer service, also sees it drive marketing and sales messaging along with the bottom line.
So, why doesn’t everyone follow this model? Two reasons come to mind: a) many companies are still entrenched in the traditional advertising and promotional model that advocates big claims, whether or not they’re actually supported – the “don’t let ‘em see you sweat” mentality; and b) it’s a lot harder to invest the resources needed to create stellar customer service than just talk about it – and hope no one notices what’s really happening.
Clearly, Chewy walked the talk. Noted the Forbes article, “Chewy selling to Petsmart for a reported $3.35 billion surprised a lot of people…it was still a multi-brand e-commerce site selling similar pet products to other companies in the category, including Amazon. And its price-to-weight ratio made free shipping very expensive…Chewy hangs its hat on phenomenal customer service, going above and beyond to make customers happy. The strategy clearly paid off.”
Florida’s Sun-Sentinel points out that Chewy “endeared itself to customers with personalized service, including surprising them with hand-painted portraits of their pets.”
Paraphrasing the famous line in “Field of Dreams,” “Build customer service and they will come.” Increasingly, monetary success at a company is tied both to offering a quality product/service and ensuring that customers are impressed. As reported in the Forbes.com article, Kelli Durkin, Chewy’s VP of customer service, emphasizes, “We want customers to be so wowed by the interaction they can’t help but share their experiences.”
Bottom line, create superior customer service if you don’t already have it – then let the world know about it on everything from labels and packaging to your digital footprint and other marketing. That, in and of itself, makes for a powerful branding statement.
Here are a few tips about how to get there from Chewy’s Durkin, as related in the Forbes.com article:
Impress from the get-go. Notes Durkin, “My goal is wowing the customer from the minute they call us. Our customer service reps have good energy and staff is excited to delight the customer. We service customers 24/7 across phone, email, chat and social – holidays and weekends. I encourage the team to think about what they can do to ‘wow’ the customer.” One way to translate this idea onto labels and packaging is to publish stories (or at least excerpts) from very happy customers.
Get creative and committed to how to do it. Durkin notes that every customer gets a handwritten “Welcome to the Chewy family” postcard. She adds, “If customers email a photo of their pet (cat, dog, horse, fish), we have an artist create an oil painting of their pet.” Chewy could include a copy of that oil painting – when logistically feasible – on (or in) its branded packaging containing the items ordered. Think about how to enhance and entrance customers by doing something personalized with labels and packaging.
Listen, learn and leverage. Durkin notes,“ We train our agents to actively listen and tap into their empathy. If the customer mentions a wedding, we send a wedding present. Our customer service agents are trained to delight the customer. We’re not optimizing customer service to save money… Onboarding is a 2-3 week process. New agents learn the systems, but we also teach them how to make decisions rather than relying on scripts. We teach them how to problem solve. We also train on projecting their voice and smiling on the phone.” Obviously, this requires expending time and money to achieve. But, look at the payoffs in terms of marketing and sales value, and profitability.
Translate customer input into innovation. Using the customer experience as on-the-fly research to improve processes is another powerful satisfaction-generating tool. “In customer service, we consider it our responsibility to listen for ways to improve the customer experience overall. We’ve built operational processes to collaborate with agents,” says Durkin. “If multiple agents hear the same ask or need, it gets bubbled up. For example, we received feedback regarding in-app shipping. We then made changes to the auto-ship feature so it’s easier to use.”
Making and keeping customers happy requires an ongoing commitment. Benefits accrue, however, in ways that go far beyond the customer experience itself.
Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.