Taking on the big guys is no easy task - unless your strategy is to excel where they simply can't.
Anna Brose's dog, Gus, died suddenly while she and her husband were away on a trip to Alaska.
The loss of Gus was understandably heartbreaking for Anna.
In addition to dealing with the loss of her dog, she also needed to see how she could return an unopened bag of expensive prescription dog food to the company that she had bought it from, called Chewy.
Returning to Wisconsin meant coming back to an empty home with an unopened bag of expensive prescription dog food. Not thinking she’d be able to make it through a phone call without crying, Brose opened up Chewy’s chat function last week and explained how she wanted to return the dog food since Gus died.
“I didn’t even say his name, but the person must have gone and looked at my profile,” she said. “They got back to me right away and said, ‘I’m so sorry about Gus.’ It was so touching.”
Brose thought Chewy had done enough when she was told she’d get a full refund and was advised to donate the food to a shelter.
But then to her complete surprise...
On Tuesday night, Brose returned home late from watching another friend’s dog when she saw a box of flowers on her porch. She was floored when she saw the note was signed by Jordan, the Chewy employee with whom she chatted about Gus.
Chewy's unbelievably emphatic response to Gus' passing wasn't a one-off.
Having posted the story on Twitter - loads of pet owners shared similar stories of the thoughtful customer service that they also received from Chewy.
Chewy even paints portraits of their customers and sends them to their owners as surprise gifts.
The business strategy that Chewy chases is to focus on customer-loyalty rather than chasing a far more costly strategy of customer-acquisition.
Really caring about customers is not something that you can easily scale. It's not an approach that you can automate. Truth be told customers can smell if the sense of care is just another process or if the intent behind it is authentic.
It requires team members to physically roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, doing in the moment problem-solving. This is something bigger retailers are simply not able to replicate.
Caring for your customers is however a very powerful practice to adopt as a culture.
Yuppiechef embarked on a 'one-at-a-time' customer loyalty strategy more than 15-years ago in South Africa, which worked out pretty well for them too.
Because CX is so universally poor, great customer service is a significant brand amplifier and one that only smaller players can feasibly perfect.
It's always been a power-play and continues to be a simple, yet highly-effective way to gain people's trust.
If you think your company could be better, but are unsure as to where or how to improve its strategy - then give me a shout to chat about how your strategic approach can be tweaked to unlock new growth and opportunities.