The Online Pet Products Company Is Making Friends Who Can Help in a Crisis
7/26/21 – – Of the seven elements measured by the Crisis Preparedness Quotient (Reputation, Culture, Allies, Voice, Digital Diligence, Leadership Trust, and Planning & Practice) to predict a company’s preparedness for crisis, allies is most often undervalued. But making friends who will stick up for you in hard times is critically important to effective crisis response.
Hopefully, a company’s customers are among its most loyal allies. It takes hard work, in a world where outstanding customer service and excellent products are expected by consumers, to nurture such support. It takes a higher level of satisfaction for customers to come to a company’s defense when it’s under fire.
Chewy.com, the online pet products company, is building such friendships and support through practices not taught in most business schools or valued by management consultants: kindness and compassion.
Whenever Chewy customer service people learn of the passing of a customer’s beloved pet, they email a note of condolence:
With deepest sympathy on your loss of (name of pet). We’ll always be here through the sad times, and to remember the good memories (name of pet) left on your heart. Love, (name of Chewy representative) and the Chewy family.
Bereaved customers may even receive a bouquet of flowers from the company. Equally important, Chewy cancels future orders (customers often opt for monthly deliveries of food and medicine) without the hassle normally associated with stop-order requests. They even refund payment for delivered products no longer needed and suggest customers donate food to area animal shelters.
According to Kelli Durkin, Chewy’s vice president of customer service:
We don’t feel we’re talking to customers. We are talking to pets’ parents. We want to hear the good and the bad. We are part of their families.
Chewy may not be demonstrating this level of kindness and compassion to build an army of allies ready to go into battle should a crisis develop. More likely, senior management understands the importance of repeat business and the loving nature of pet owners. They share the emotional aspects of having a pet in your family. I guess you can call that authenticity.
So, how are you treating your company’s internal and external stakeholders – – your potential allies? In addition to creating a welcoming and productive work environment, operating with kindness and compassion will assure that you’ll never be alone in the midst of a reputational storm.