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Creating Unforgettable Experiences at Every Paw Print

Featuring: Shelley Parnell, Chief Experience Officer at Dogtopia

February 29, 2024


In an industry where the clientele encompasses both furry friends and their loving owners, Dogtopia stands as a testament to transforming pet care into an exceptional customer experience. It’s not just daycare for a dog; it’s the entire well-being of a family member. Shelley Parnell, the Chief Experience Officer at Dogtopia, has been pivotal in steering this transformation. Her career journey is marked by a diverse background in the marketing world, where she credits her success to her decade of agency experience, her willingness to learn as much as possible, and her desire to put herself out there toward endeavors she’s passionate about. We had the amazing opportunity to chat with Parnell about the behind-the-scenes of the pet care industry and what goes into providing a seamless customer experience, to both pets and their owners alike. 

Jack of All Trades: Parnell’s Career Path

Parnell's path to her current role is a testament to the power of versatility and resilience. Starting in an agency, moving through freelance consulting, and navigating strategic roles across various industries, Parnell's career is rich with lessons on adaptability and broad-skilled knowledge. "I always used to say, I knew a little bit about a lot of things," Parnell shares. This ability to adapt and learn across different fields has been invaluable in her role at Dogtopia, emphasizing the importance of a broad skill set and an open mindset for career growth.

A Tail of Care: Dogtopia's Family-First Approach

At Dogtopia, the essence of customer experience surpasses what's traditionally expected. Parnell refers to it as "everything from the very first time someone hears about you through the entire lifecycle of the customer." This holistic approach, which attentively caters to both furry clients and their humans, has been groundbreaking. Under Parnell's leadership, Dogtopia has evolved from a typical boarding service to an all-encompassing daycare solution, setting new standards with meticulous safety protocols, engaging activities, and proactive communication strategies that enrich a pet’s stay, ensuring it’s as rewarding as it is secure. Parnell warmly describes Dogtopia as “an extension of their (the pet’s) family,” a reflection of the underlying philosophy driving their customer experience strategies. Integrating this vision, Dogtopia aims to place the customer’s experience directly in the palm of their hand, bridging the gap between the pet owner and the care provided within its walls.

Adhering to the belief that “it takes a village to raise a kid,” Dogtopia applies the same principle to dogs, striving to ensure pet parents feel fully supported with the necessary resources for their dog’s care. The emphasis on building an emotional connection with customers is paramount; Dogtopia recognizes the significance of this bond, treating it as a cornerstone of their service. In doing so,  Dogtopia offers a supportive, family-like environment for every pet and their owner.

Unleashing Success in A Franchise Model

Dogtopia's franchise model introduces an exciting dimension to its organization, empowering entrepreneurs to open their own Dogtopia locations. This dimension of the organization, while fostering business ownership and growth, also requires skillful harmonizing of both the franchisee and customer expectations. Parnell has found the right balance by putting the client at the forefront of the decision-making process and integrating the overarching goals of the business into each innovative practice. Deep knowledge and understanding of the wants and needs of all who place their trust in Dogtopia enables the company to have a unified and customer-centric approach across all franchise locations.

Caretakers Reimagined

Dogtopia's ascent as a leader in pet care is as much about empowering its team as it is about exceptional service offerings. Parnell highlights the pivotal role of comprehensive training and a strong organizational culture, remarking, "We provide a lot of training...and we're pretty closely connected from a messaging and culture perspective." To actualize these values, Dogtopia provides a comprehensive library of over 600 training modules for employees, ensuring the team is well-equipped to meet and exceed customer expectations. 

At the core of this training, Parnell observes, "The emphasis we place on emotional connection with our customers is tremendous...that relationship is very important." This dedication to forging deep, meaningful relationships with pet owners is key to Dogtopia's success, cultivating a loyal community that treasures not only the services offered but also the heartfelt care and understanding they experience.

Charting a Course for Career Excellence

For those eager to carve out a successful career in customer experience, Parnell champions the power of public speaking, the agility of prioritization, and the art of multitasking, as essential skills for navigating the diverse landscape of customer experience. She also notes, “Learn as much about business as you can.” Her strategy for team leadership? Cultivate a culture where enjoyment and passion are inherent, ensuring the team is as invested in their work as they are in the happiness of their customers. Parnell's narrative proves that, with the right mix of skills and a dash of joy, professional growth and impactful service go hand in hand.

Parnell's journey and Dogtopia's philosophy serve as a compelling guide for aspiring leaders, showing that true innovation in customer experience comes from a blend of strategic vision, team empowerment, and an unwavering commitment to service excellence.

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