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Online Retailer’s Customer Service Department Understands Pet Loss
Out to prove that businesses aren’t faceless shells, a popular Internet pet store is reminding its subscribers that they feel their pain when a furry family member passes.
Dallas resident Sheree Flannagan lost two of her beloved pets at the beginning of the holiday season. On December 22, 2016, her sweet dog Zoe died. Those days were spent processing grief, only to be met a little over a month later with new grief as she and her husband, Army Reserve Sgt. Corey Flanagan, lost their 15-year-old cat Thor.
The Flanagans were members of Chewy.com, a online pet-product company based in Florida that offers subscription options for automatic pet food delivery. After Thor died, Sheree called Chewy.com’s customer service department, hoping to return unused food she’d purchased for Thor.
Ashley, the Chewy’s customer representative, not only comforted Sheree in her grief, but encouraged her to tell her more about her pets. In addition to a shoulder to cry on, Sheree received a full, no-questions-asked, no-documentation-needed refund for the purchase of the food.
But on February 8, 2017, the Flanagans were amazed by a special delivery of flowers from Chewy.com, who wanted to send their condolences over the family’s loss. Sgt. Flanagan’s gratitude for the company’s exceptional kindness prompted him to write to the company, telling him he’d no longer go anywhere but Chewy.com for any pet-related needs.
The Flanagans are not alone in this special treatment. I’ve personally seen four friends who have lost pets in the last few months receive (and then share on social media) similar kindness and compassion from the company!
When Sue and Bruce Stack of Edwardsburg, Michigan, lost their dog Jake, Sue called Chewy.com to end automatic food deliveries. By the end of the day of the call, Sue had received a note expressing the company’s condolences, a full credit for unused food that had recently been delivered, and a request from the company to donate the food to a local animal shelter. Two days later, the Stacks also received flowers from the company. Sue was motivated to post a picture of the flowers and card to her social media accounts, where the pictures went viral.
Chewy.com’s Vice President of Customer Service Kelli Durkin said that the company was started by pet lovers who just wanted to create a unique, personalized service. When they received the first call about a pet dying and the need to stop an automatic shipment came in, Chewy.com knew they needed to do something to show customers that they felt the loss of furry family members.
That first call about the loss a customer’s pet prompted Chewy.com to develop a “WOW” department that is responsible for helping customers deal with the life moments of their pets. The department sends out bereavement cards and packages, as well as other thoughtful gifts that cater to different life events like illnesses and weddings. In 2016 alone, the company sent out 2 million holiday cards, saying they don’t feel like they are sending cards to customers, but to the parents of pets–just like they are. Chewy.com says it wants to be a turn-to company in the good times and the bad, and considers itself part of every fur-family they have the privilege of serving.
I have a feeling their ‘family’ is about to get larger, thanks to its “WOW” factor!