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Chewy's Unique Customer Gifts Win Over Loyal Pet Owners

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Brooke Lynch

Pet Owner

Personalization has become second nature to customers; they’re used to receiving ads for product recommendations and emails with discounts just for them. But personalized advertisements don’t always feel personal, and some customers feel frustrated when companies use their personal information in ways that feel invasive. 

Including personalized elements, while still giving a human touch can go a long way with customers. Online pet supply retailer Chewy is being applauded for its highly personal customer service tactic: sending pet portraits to loving owners. The company, which started the service in 2013, now sends over 1,000 commissioned paintings each week to surprise its customers. 

One customer shared his experience with the retailer in a viral Facebook post last year. After losing his beloved dog, he contacted the Chewy customer service team to return a bag of expensive prescription food. The agent promptly refunded his money and asked him to donate the product on the company’s behalf. After the initial phone call, Chewy followed up with a sentimental handwritten card explaining that the team is always there for him and included a painting of his dog. His post showing the card and portrait, received hundreds of comments and thousands of likes, with users sharing condolences and praising Chewy’s kindness.

The portraits also aren’t limited to customers who are going through difficult times. Chewy sends paintings to so many different customers, often just to make their day. Since customers cannot request a painting themselves, the company uses the gift to surprise each pet owner. This is often unexpected, one customer said that she was shocked that such a large company would do something so personal and that she, “just wants to buy everything from them.” 

In addition to the portraits, the customer service team sends handwritten notes to new customers and even holiday cards each year. This personal element does not go unnoticed, and customers consistently rave about the brand.  Owners have continued to share their paintings on social media, giving the retailer organic shout outs whenever they can. 


Personalization and Intent

When looking at this example, it’s easy to see why customers are so excited about the brand. Chewy’s customer service team makes pet owners feel special; like the agent actually knows them. This level of personalization is a product of the brand’s emphasis on customer intent. In the above example, we see that the customer wasn’t simply returning the food because they were unhappy about the product or purchasing experience, the motive was more complicated. 

By uncovering his intentions, the agent was able to provide him comfort and support during his grieving process. Rather than have him go through the hassle of mailing the product back during this tough time, the agent simply refunded him and told him to donate it. The portrait and card added the additional customer service ‘wow factor’, but all of these personalized elements of support were employed because the agent understood the customers’ intention.

Chewy’s success in understanding customer intention is completely relevant to 2021 customer standards; after an emotion-heavy, difficult year, customers are looking for more human support. By focusing on meaningful customer interactions, Chewy is able to connect with their customers on a genuine level. Additionally, all of the handwritten touches feel even more personal because the agent already established a relationship with the customer. Chewy’s success in personalization then, is not just the fun home-made aspect, but a continued focus on the meaning behind their customer interactions.