• Causal Engines

Using customer love to grow: treating customers like humans

Stand out and be human. Many software companies fall into the trap of doing things that make them look like a big company. If you do the same things big companies do, it is extremely likely customers won’t remember you. Sometimes it helps to go beyond the basics.

There are many ways to be unique. A very powerful way to differentiate is by doing things that may seem irrational, but actually make intuitive sense.

Chewy, founded in 2011, has become the Amazon for pet food and products. During its early growth stage, it wrote each purchaser a hand-written card with a specific and kind message. To date, it often sends thoughtful holiday cards thanking its customers for their loyalty. Chewy also compiled users’ social media posts about Chewy and created canvases of the posts that were sent to those customers for free.

Their customers were pleasantly surprised that a firm would spend time and money doing this. A little bit of gratitude helped build trust and created immense loyalty. In 2017, Chewy was acquired by PetSmart for $3.4 billion, the largest-ever acquisition of an e-commerce business at the time. Despite initial criticism, PetSmart’s purchase paid off, resulting in a $10 billion gain when Chewy finally went public in June 2019.

Zappos is another great example. As an online retailer of clothing, there is an inability for shoppers to try on new clothes. So, Zappos decided to double down on their customer service. It created a team dedicated to reducing the friction that arose from comfort, design, and aesthetic concerns about its inventory.

Unlike many other companies, Zappos's support line is managed by real people-- not an automated machine. It takes one minute or less to connect with a support representative and they don’t rely on scripts.

Also, Zappos goes the extra mile to offer customer service agents $2,000 to leave the firm, ensuring that they have a truly dedicated team. This extremely friendly support group at Zappos continues to convert leads.

Find your edge. More often than not, it ends up being something simple but non-obvious. Treat people like humans. 😊

We would like to thank Amelia Forczak at Pithy Wordsmithery and Miriam Gottfried at The Wall Street Journal for their inspiration.

This article is a collaboration between Archit Bhise and Sebastian Duluc, and Grant Sobczak.