A How-to Guide From Hallmark for When a Client Loses a Pet


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Being there. It’s a vital step toward building stronger relationships between businesses and their clients and customers, particularly when they’re struggling. Regardless, being open, vulnerable, and available can be tough to master — especially when customers lose beloved pets.

If you’ve ever adopted a pet, you know the deep, emotional attachment that’s possible between humans and other species. Today, those bonds are stronger than ever as more people eschew traditional family arrangements, get married less often or later in life, choose to remain childless, and consistently embrace “pet parent” status. In fact, many households elevate their pets to full-fledged family members (not to mention adding them to holiday cards). Of course, when those cherished pets pass away, the grief is real.

Most people understand that they’re likely to outlive their furry, finned, and feathered friends. However, that doesn’t mean their mourning can’t be profound. Research shows that plenty of people respond to the death of an animal as they would the death of a relative or friend.

If you’re serious about being there for clients and customers, you have the opportunity to connect with them on an extremely intimate, empathetic level when you learn they’ve lost a pet. Not only does showing a little compassion immediately help them feel less isolated in their sadness, but it also shows that your company cares about more than data points, conversions, and profit margins.

Sending Heartfelt Concern Through the Mail

How can you take advantage of these “being there” occasions to illustrate your commitment to customers, even during troubled times? One way is by enabling all personnel to proactively react when they learn a customer is going through the loss of a pet.

For example, imagine that one of your client service employees is troubleshooting a problem with a customer. During the small talk that inevitably happens during conversations, the customer drops the news that they’re having a rough day because they lost their four-legged best buddy a few days ago. Whether your brand’s pet-related or not, wouldn’t you want your service representative to do something unexpected and relevant? Of course you would! But you shouldn’t assume that your employees will know how to proceed.

Authentically caring for someone else — even a customer who’s pouring out their heart on the phone — isn’t always automatic. Instead, your employee might need some prompting to take action. Otherwise, you could lose the chance to truly be there in a way that no customer would expect: by sending the grieving customer a card in the mail.

But can a pet sympathy card sent “just because” make much of a difference? Absolutely. Pet families are often surprised and touched when they receive unexpected notes in the mail. Additionally, statistics indicate that the majority of people hold onto cards for months. That means your brand could become known for seeing customers individually, and not just as anonymous buyers.

A Quick Formula for Writing Pet Sympathy Cards

To be sure, you can’t just tell your employees to start writing and sending sympathy cards to customers who lose pets or whose pets are very ill. They’ll need guidelines and perhaps even a tool kit complete with greeting cards and templated sentiments. Also, make sure they know the basic three-step formula that works like a charm when creating any type of sympathy card to mail to a pet parent:

    Start with the basics. Beginning any sympathy card with “We’re so sorry to hear about the loss of…” always works. It might sound trite, but it’s a no-miss opener when the right words are hard to find.
    Acknowledge your recipient’s grief. Use your second line (or next few lines) to show the pet parent that you realize how much their animal meant to them. If you’re unsure how to spell the pet’s name, conduct a little research on social media so you get it right. Then, remind the owner to make time for self-care.
    End with compassion. At your signoff, be sure to express your sympathy for your recipient’s loss. Remember: You don’t have to use a lot of words to say something meaningful. Just keep the pet sympathy card authentic — and let the emotions do the rest.

Put together, your message might look something like this:

    Dear __name__,

    We’re incredibly sorry to hear about the loss of Bella. The bond that comes from spending so many years with a beloved pet is a strong one — and we understand how much Bella meant to you. Please take the moments needed to care for yourself during such a difficult time.

    We send our deepest condolences to you and the loved ones who knew her.

    With care,___Your team____

Being there for customers isn’t an exact science. Nevertheless, making it a priority can differentiate your company from the competition, so be sure to keep some pet sympathy cards on hand.

Rhonda Basler
With more than two decades of marketing and operations experience, Rhonda Basler is currently the Head of Operations & Agent Experience for Compass in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Nashville. Throughout her career, Rhonda has held the customer in the highest esteem and intimately understands the relationship between employee satisfaction and customer experience. Rhonda's career has spanned both B2B and B2C companies including Dot Foods, H & R Block, Hallmark, and Compass Realty Group.


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