My wife came downstairs this weekend and proclaimed “We are only buying from Chewy from now on.”

We have a one-year-old dog named Russell. Russ. Rusty. Russellmania. I should stop. Rustoleum. Okay that’s it. Russtaurant. I…I need help. He is my wife’s child. I’m still not willing to admit that publicly, but I have grown accustomed to his face.

These past eight years, it has been our post-Christmas tradition to head to a cabin in the North Woods of Wisconsin on frozen Pipe Lake with our friends, where it has routinely been -20. This year we are bringing Rust Belt.

And that Russet potato needs something to keep warm. This thing my wife bought is not as bad as you are picturing:

It is actually this thing.

Well it was too big for him.

My wife was hunting for the return label for Chewy. She was a bit put-out that you could not print it from the site or an email. She headed upstairs to make the call and print the label.

Back to the beginning
The customer service rep, we will call her Denise, asked my wife if she had followed the directions on the website for sizing? (I had seen her with the fabric measuring tape on our confused Tim Russert the week before.) My wife said that she had. Denise asked if she used all the various straps and cinches? She had and in fact we both had.

Denise then proceeded to enlist my wife’s help in editing the website for this particular product so that they had the sizing correct going forward. She mentioned that the changes would be live on the site soon. #RealHeroDenise

But we still needed this coat. My wife explained that we had to have it by Dec 20 and expressed concern that the new (smaller) one wouldn’t arrive in time with a traditional exchange. Denise said she would ship a new one, then credit the big one when it arrived, and throw in a 10% discount. (Why are discounts always thrown?)


I Know, I Know
This is all very tedious, one-off stuff that makes its way into content all too often but is rarely the experience at scale. Well first, yes it is tedious, but I’m not convinced it was an isolated incident. If it was, then that lovely, problem-solving hero CSR—Denise, if you remember her from earlier—went rogue and probably hates that we have written about the incident. But I’ve been at this long enough to feel out what is policy and what isn’t.

And full transparency, we have been buying stuff from Chewy for right at about a year, but mainly chew toys and such. We haven’t spent much money, which is to say we aren’t any version of gold star loyalty members.

In looking closer at Chewy, their CEO, Sumit Singh, was GM of Amazon Fresh before taking the leash at Chewy. We have written extensively about how incredible Amazon is at customer experience.


Don’t Deny These Children
Our pets have become or have been said to be our children (even when you have children). A trip to the Pet Store, online or off, is closer to a trip to the pharmacy or the pediatrician than with expendable income spent on hobbies. And Chewy understands that they are solving crises with our children, and they have aligned their customer experience to match the psychological state that many of us bring to the conversation when the issue is with our pets. Chewy is building loyalty one customer interaction at a time. And it’s going to work for them.

And it’s going to make it hard for anyone else who doesn’t live up, to keep up.