We're crushing on Chewy and how they improve the customer experience

4 Things Your Contact Center Can Learn Now From Chewy on How To Improve Your Customer Experience While Still Keeping Your Agents Happy and Productive

Every time my pet supplies arrive on my doorstep in the big, cardboard Chewy box, I get excited to unpack them. I know what you’re thinking. It’s just cat food. Why would you be so eager to unbox some crunchies for your cat?

Well for me, every Chewy shipment means one less errand I have to run. It means I have extra time to plan what I’m eating for dinner, and I won’t fall into the trap of seeing and saving more tiny animals at the pet store. (Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to rescue more, but I’m out of room.)

And, it’s also a reminder of every positive experience I’ve had with the brand. I think back to the holiday card I got in the mail three years ago. I remember the lovely and encouraging messages I got during pandemic shipment delays. And, I smile at the fact that the package showed up on my stoop with no surprise bank transaction. Chewy has my back through every step of my journey.

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Pet retailer Chewy transcends the typical customer experience. From the call center floor to the service customers get, employees and Chewy advocates alike know the brand has created something spectacular. 

Customer service agents praise the attitudes of the customers they help, and they tout the fun and lively work environment that makes Chewy stand out from the pack. Story after story shows that Chewy’s customer service agents love their jobs (yes, really). And all the positivity Chewy employees exude reflects in the experiences they deliver to customers, too.  

That’s why this month, we’re crushing on Chewy – an eCommerce leader paving the path to a better customer experience. We’re unpacking four strategies from Chewy’s service playbook and giving you actionable tips on how to use them to improve your own customer experience. 

1. Prioritize a positive work environment for your people.

Having fun at work isn’t just about the feel-goods. It has widespread impacts that reach from employee retention to customer satisfaction and loyalty. You see, humans are inherently social and playful. So, when you add these characteristics into the workday, you’re actually helping their productivity – and your bottom line. 

Here’s the deal: People who have a positive mindset are 31% more productive than their peers. And those with low life satisfaction stay home an average of 1.25 days more per month. That’s 15 days of lost productivity each year, per unhappy employee.

At Chewy, they’ve built fun into their day. Employees get meaningful work in a nurturing environment, filled with growth opportunities underpinned by supportive managers and trusted leaders. They skip the one-off events and gimmicks, like cheap pizza parties, that feel more like “forced fun” (that are literally never fun). And, they give their employees trust and space to make judgment calls that will create a happy, loyal customer. Then, they train them on what more of those moments might look like in the future. 

Leadership at Chewy has done a fantastic job at driving home the message that they care for the people who make Chewy successful – not just the success of the bottom line. And the customers can feel the difference. 

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How to use this method to improve your customer experience: 

Build recognition into your call center culture. Coach your agents frequently, and loop them in on their performance goals and metrics. 

Even consider setting aside a “fun budget” for each customer service rep to surprise and delight customers. Offer agents $10, $25, or $50 a month (whatever makes sense for your contact center) to do something special for a customer. Whether that’s delivering a pizza or a slice of key lime pie, you’ll drum up positivity for your customers and your agents. The more happiness you can conjure, the better your call center experience.

2. Build brand trust with personalization and consistency.

A few years back, my coworkers and I, all of us pet owners, got handwritten notes from Chewy during the holiday season. Turns out, we all use Chewy to get food and supplies for our furbabies. 

We brought our cards in and compared them, and we thought, “how on earth did they scale this process?” Chewy has 15 million customers. Back then, their customer base was albeit smaller, but still in the millions. And we all got a handwritten card signed, sealed and delivered. 

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What’s more? Each card was a bit different. The message wasn’t copied and pasted, it was unique. The ink on my coworker Jason’s card was smudged, and each note had different handwriting and a varying level of legibility. In that moment, we felt like Chewy really knew us. And, that level of personalization clued us in on something more important: not only did Chewy know their customers, but they used that knowledge to make our experience better.  

It’s these small but impactful moments that earn customer trust. And this year, Chewy earned the label of most-trusted brand in America. They beat out Amazon for first place in the Pet Food & Supplies Category of Newsweek & BrandSpark’s list of trustworthy brands. 

How to use this method to improve your customer experience: 

Use the customer data that lives in your contact center to personalize service conversations to your customers. Give your agents access to customer history, so they can approach every interaction with knowledge about each customer’s needs, wants, and past service experiences. And, encourage small moments of connection. Coach agents to use a customer’s name during conversations. Even motivate agents to take a few extra seconds to ask questions and check-in with the customer. What you may lose in efficiency, you’ll gain in loyalty.

3. Eliminate effort in the customer journey. 

Have you ever had a hungry pet? What about a hangry pet? There’s nothing worse than approaching dinner time and hearing whimpers from your beloved, furry housemates only to be met with an empty bag of food. Then, you have to scramble to get to the store and find some kibble, all while the whimpers play on repeat in your mind.

Chewy figured out a way to eliminate this pain point for customers. Enter Autoship. Chewy’s automated shipments have amassed a loving fan base (like me!) of busy pet owners looking for convenience in their customer journey. I can get my cat food and litter shipped to my home on a schedule that works for me. And as I’ve rescued more pets, it’s easy for me to head to Chewy.com and change my shipment schedule to keep up with more appetites. Instead of a six-week shipment, I can opt to get food shipped to my doorstep once a month. 

Even better, Chewy proactively communicates about every shipment. They send out an email when a customer’s order is ready to ship (and when it’s delivered) so no one’s surprised by a new charge to their bank account. And, if an item’s out of stock or they’re experiencing delays, the Chewy service team reaches out with plenty of notice. When Chewy saw a massive spike in online orders at the start of the pandemic, they reached out to customers to keep them in-the-know about delays. 

Chewy proactively communicates about shipment delays

How to use this method to improve your customer experience: 

Eliminate effort for your customers, and you’ll create raving fans. Do your customers complain about long wait times in your customer surveys? Do your agents tell you that it’s common for customers to reach out three times to solve the same problem? What kind of experience does your current suite of contact center tools support? Can your customers find self-service answers to their questions, or do you offer reactive support instead of proactive? Dissect your customer journey and create a set of action items to reduce friction based on what you find. 

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4. Put customers first, not your bottom line. 

I promise, your bottom line will thank you in the end.

Chewy offers 24/7 service, 365 days a year to make sure every pet parent can reach out for help if and when they need it. 

I may or may not have included this pic from Chewy's site because of the cute cats and dogs

Not only that, but they have extensive FAQs on their website and clear and concise instructions to give customers self-service options, too. 

Chewy offers 24/7 customer service

They’ve built a network of engaged customers who aren’t afraid to tout Chewy’s greatness to all their friends and colleagues. 

Take this outpouring of support on LinkedIn, for example. Chewy posted a simple graphic on their LinkedIn page to celebrate Customer Service Week back in October. One simple message opened the floodgates. Happy customers poured in, showing their support for the brand’s impeccable customer experience. 

Chewy's customer experience creates raving fans.
And more raving fans.

Some customers even shared specific instances of the moments that bonded them to Chewy for life. Like this customer, who lost her pet and received flowers from the Chewy team when she called in to cancel her autoship subscription. 

Chewy's customer share heartfelt stories about their brand experiences

How to use this method to improve your customer experience: 

Don’t just talk about putting customers first, do it. Work with other contact center and operations leaders to prioritize outcomes over vanity metrics. While speed and accuracy are top priorities for modern customers this year, efficiency shouldn’t outweigh other important pieces of your customer experience. 

Ask for more feedback from your customers, your agents and others on the frontlines in your organization (like sales and marketing) to learn what they really want. Offer up more ways for your customers to get the help they need, like an FAQ section on your website or with a live chat option to connect to a live agent. 

Gather intel to learn your customer truths, then deliver the experience they expect. Now, as Chewy customers said in the comments above, they compare every brand to Chewy.

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