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Candace D'Agnolo

Why You Shouldn’t Just Improve the Customer Experience at Your Pet Business

Instead, focus on innovation!




AT THE HEART OF every business lies a crucial element often overlooked — the customer journey. In our industry, we have the opportunity others don’t to merge pets and people into a unique customer experience. Understanding, optimizing and innovating this journey proves key to thriving in a world where inflation and convenience are competitive challenges.

Innovating the customer experience differs from improving it because innovation involves exploring new experiences or making recognizable shifts, rather than updating existing ones.

Understanding Your Customer Journey

Have you ever mapped out all the moments during which a customer engages with your company? It should encompass the complete experience of a pet owner and their pet, from the initial awareness of a need, to how they are greeted by phone or in person, to purchases of products or services, to how you reconnect so the customer may engage with your brand again. In the pet industry, emotional connection heavily influences this journey, with many moments to help you build a relationship over the lifetime of the pet owner, not just the pet.

I recently attended the Pet Industry Leadership Summit in San Diego, CA, and had the great opportunity to hear restaurateur Will Guidara, author of “Unreasonable Hospitality,” give a keynote. He shared that his entire team mapped out their customer’s journey, identifying moments where there was friction, and Guidara encouraged his team to explore how to make it a better experience. They created moments of surprise and delight in ways I’d never heard of before! I definitely recommend getting his book.


Recognizing Its Importance

Focusing on this journey is not just about making sales; it’s about creating experiences that lead to loyal customers. Satisfied pet owners often translate into repeat business, referrals and a strong positive reputation for your brand. By understanding and enhancing each step of the journey, you can create a loyal customer base that values your offerings beyond price or convenience. You will see tangible results such as increased sales, engaged employees and more overall joy in your business.

Innovating Along the Way

Some obvious ideas to consider are hosting pet-friendly events, offering an app for convenient scheduling of services, implementing a loyalty program, ensuring your website is user-friendly, and considering an e-commerce option for convenience.

A more interesting approach would be to embrace “hospitality,” seeing yourself as a concierge and treating as many customers as possible as VIPs.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Provide complimentary beverages and snacks in a comfortable seating area to grooming clients waiting for their pets.
  • Give a small welcome gift each time a customer joins your loyalty program.
  • Call or text to check in after a purchase or service.
  • Mail a gift when you hear a customer has a big life event.
  • Call around to other stores to see if they have what you’re out of stock of.
  • Hire a Customer Success Manager.

Endless opportunities exist within your customer journey! You can create an experience that not only meets their needs, but also builds a lasting relationship based on trust and a little bit of wow factor! Embrace the work you may need to do here to analyze and implement. It will cost money, but it’s way more effective than traditional marketing dollars and will enhance your company culture at the same time!



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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