It’s a challenge to make a statement that captures the stress of this Spring. In a few words, it’s a crazy time. And if ever there were a time to celebrate successful customer service stories, those that make a difference, even a tiny one, in someone’s day-to-day, in how much they spend, or in the ease of picking something up from the store or being able to receive something you ordered online (what was once so simple…), goodness, let’s share.
Unlike my pal The Remaniac, my dog has not enjoyed the ease of a regular dog food service. We actually used Chewy years ago because of really solid prices, but our bags always came damaged, dog food rolling around in the giant box on our porch. While I know now that this company really seizes on opportunities to make customers happy, at the time I just thought that the method simply didn’t work for me.
For a couple of years now, our dog food journey has been sporadic, based on our location, sales, coupons, or a very dire need to replenish our last few kernels of food at the bottom of the bin. No loyalty, no real preference, a general avoidance of very high-end stores that get away with charging exorbitant prices, and a real hesitation to commit.
Enter pandemic, stage right, and it’s suddenly very inconvenient and in fact, dangerous, to just pop into any old store to pick up any old thing. The dog food bin got low, then dangerously low, then we were passing our dog leftovers with just a few decorative kernels on top (she did not complain).
There have been a lot of lessons learned by both consumers and businesses about the new-temporary-mandatory “curbside pickup” option. My family learned quickly what restaurants and stores in Milwaukee had the process down, which needed work, and which to avoid. It was on our way to pick up a curbside dinner when we stopped outside of a pet store, one we had visited during our noncommittal pet food adventures sometime before. I didn’t have an appointment, I hadn’t called ahead, I just knew we were out of dog food and maybe they could help me. In these times, under the circumstances, there was no guarantee I’d walk away 30 pounds heavier. I, in fact, didn’t.
I walked away with probably 15 pounds of free samples and a pig’s ear. The store owner, totally accepting of us not having ordered ahead, and sympathetic to our pathetic lack of pet food loyalty, just gave us food to try for our dog to see if she liked it. I said how kind, we’ll be back, we’re grateful, but she insisted I needn’t come back if I didn’t want to; she was happy to help.
Naturally, we went through the free samples quickly enough and made the phone call to that pet store to order our large bag of dog food (and a pig’s ear) for pick up.
This isn’t really about the fact that I got something for free. I just needed to get some dog food and it was simple generosity which got us through the next week. My dog did in fact like the food and it was such a pleasant experience in a time of fewer and fewer in-person interactions, that I concluded there was no other way to proceed but to indeed order dog food from this store going forward. We found our dog food place.
I think what drives loyalty is more than routine. Both Eric and I found our forever dog food places. Whether online or in-store, it was the human, the kindness that made the difference. How do you show your customers (or potential customers) that you care, even behind a mask?