It’s human nature to enjoy hearing about great examples of customer service. These memorable instances take place between people, and cement the idea that there is still good in the world. Outstanding customer service can involve the little things, or it can be stuff that is out-of-the-ordinary.
In an environment that is increasingly automated and digital, customers appreciate those personal moments that they get from customer service staff. It’s the humans that work for your business who create these unforgettable stories and make your company look good.
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What all of these customer service stories have in common is that they are truly inspirational. They will motivate you to raise your customer service game.
1. A hotel alarm clock
Our first story is an example from a mother called Christina McMenemy who was attending a conference held at the Gaylord Opryland resort. Over the past three years that she had been staying at the resort, she had fallen in love with the clock radio in her room which played soothing spa sounds. It caused her to have the best sleep ever and she wanted one for her very own.
She made a note of the model number, and tried to find the exact model but the only ones she could find did not play spa sounds. It seems that particular model was produced only for the hotel. During her time at the last conference, she sent a tweet about the alarm clock to Opryland and after a short exchange, didn’t hear anything back.
She finally returned to her room at 11.30pm and discovered that the hotel had gifted her clock radio along with a handwritten note, which said:
“Christina, Thank you for following us on Twitter. We hope you enjoy these spa sounds at home. If you need anything, please let us know. Sincerely, Elizabeth, Nick & Tori.”
Christina was so overjoyed that she posted about the incident on her blog. Christina says:
“I would have been happy to pay for one of the clock radios, but the staff at Opryland took notice of just how much I loved this thing and went out of their way to make sure I had the best experience ever.”
The takeaway: Gaylord Opryland was under no obligation to help their customer. They had provided a pleasurable experience and Christina enjoyed her stay. But by supplying her with the alarm clock she so desperately wanted, they earned a customer for life and some good press in the process.
2. Delaying the flight on purpose
Our next story is a truly unforgettable customer service situation that made the news. We all have experiences of flying with airlines that can be stressful when a disruption occurs, but none more so when you have a very serious reason for getting a flight.
One customer called Kerry Drake was catching a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Texas, with a stopover of only about 40 minutes. He was on his way to see his dying mother, whose immune system had been compromised by all the medication she was taking for her rheumatoid arthritis.
As you might have guessed, Drake’s flight was delayed and he became visibly upset at the thought he would not make it in time to see his mother before she passed away. The flight attendant, Sofia Lares, did her best to comfort him and brought him extra napkins to dry his tears. She promised to do everything she could to help him.
When Drake arrived at his stopover, he thought that his connecting United Airlines flight had left the gate. However, as he was running up to the gate, the attendant said they had been expecting him and waved him through without checking his boarding pass. United Airlines had held the flight for Drake, so he was able to make it on board.
Drake arrived in Texas in time to say goodbye to his mother, and so did his luggage. This is a sad story with a heartwarming ending.
The takeaway: Airlines are evaluated on their ability to keep to a schedule. It wasn’t in United Airlines’s interest to delay a flight for one passenger. But they went above and beyond for Kerry Drake so he got to be with his mother, and delivered customer service so good that it made the national news. More people will consider flying with United Airlines after reading that story.
3. Renaming tiger bread
When a company receives customer feedback about their products or services, they are under no obligation to take it on board. However, there was one story where a three-year-old customer wrote into Sainsbury’s about her thoughts on one of their products.
Lily Robinson, with a little help from her parents, wrote into the supermarket chain commenting that their tiger bread actually looked more like giraffe bread. Her letter said:
“Why is tiger bread called tiger bread? It should be called giraffe bread. Love from Lily Robinson age 3 and 1/2”.
Customer services team member Chris King wrote back saying:
“I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it?
“It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a looong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.”
Lily’s mother posted the letters on her blog and the story got a lot of attention on social media. It wasn’t until several months later that the popular demand caused Sainsbury’s to rename their tiger bread to giraffe bread.
The takeaway: this story is a testament to the power of the customer. Sometimes it takes the sense of a three-year-old to make a company change its products. It showed that Sainsbury’s doesn’t take itself too seriously and is willing to listen to feedback from customers.
4. Delivering food in a storm
Taking care of your customers is second nature for some companies like Trader Joe’s. In this next story, 89-year-old grandfather and retired engineer was snowed in at his Pennsylvanian home where he lived alone. The problem was that he had no food in the apartment and no supermarkets were delivering due to the snow and the impending storm.
His daughter called around many places and finally got through to Trader Joe’s, who never normally deliver food. In this case, they said that they could deliver and took a large order from her. When she asked how she should pay, they told her the delivery would be free, and even kept suggesting more items that would fit with her father’s low-sodium diet.
Within 30 minutes, the order had arrived and the grandfather ended up with several day’s worth of food. Trader Joe’s helped ensure that an elderly man was comfortable, all for free.
The takeaway: your company will really stand out if your employees are empowered to go above and beyond for customer service. Although deliveries were not normally part of their policy, Trader Joe’s was willing to make an exception in this case to help a customer in need.
5. Sending a boy a Halo helmet
Companies who do more than what is expected of them to help customers in difficult situations deserve their place in the customer service hall of fame. Bungie Studios is a game developer who received a communication from a father whose son was having liver transplant surgery. To make matters worse, it was Christmas time.
The reason the father had reached out was because, due to the surgery, his son was unable to play the new release of his favorite game, Halo. He wanted to know if Bungie could help.
Bungie’s response was far more amazing than the father could ever have expected. They sent his son a signed get well card from their entire team. Even better, they also gave him a custom-made helmet based off the game’s main character along with shirts, toys, and custom art from the game’s designers.
Bungie’s team made a Christmas day visit to bring the gifts, putting a huge smile on his son’s face.
The takeaway: tough situations are an opportunity for brands to show exactly how much they care about their customers. Bungie could have sent a card and stopped there, but they wanted to make a little boy feel truly special. This customer service story shows sympathy and humanity, and a business that values more than just making money.
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6. Above and beyond at a bookstore
Although newsworthy customer service incidents can earn you good press, sometimes it’s the little things that really win you customers for life. Bookstore B. Dalton had one employee who was determined to help a customer who was picking up a book requested by her son for Christmas.
While the store’s inventory said the book was in stock, when the employee went to check she found that there were no copies available. This employee didn’t want to let her customer down, so she called the competition (Borders) to find out if they had any copies in stock.
Not only did the employee reserve the book at Borders, she also printed out directions that the customer could follow to the store. Needless to say, the customer picked up their book and had a happy son for Christmas.
The takeaway: Making sure the customer is happy should be a priority for customer service-focused businesses, even if that means not making that particular sale that day. When you go the extra mile to satisfy customers, they will become loyal to you and seek you out whenever they have a purchase to make.
7. A surprise steak at the airport
Sometimes customer service stories can be whimsical, especially when businesses rise to the challenge that customers present to them. Morton’s steakhouse was one such business when a customer at an airport, Peter Shankman, jokingly tweeted to them about delivering a steak.
Shankman had a long day of flights and meetings, and he didn’t want to just grab fast food at the airport. Before his flight home took off, he sent out the tweet to Morton’s and then settled in for the ride.
Although customer service speaker Shankman never expected them to deliver, one Morton’s employee drove 23 miles to bring him a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous bread, two napkins, and silverware. Shankman was amazed!
Even though Shankman has been a long-time customer of Morton’s, he will now be a die-hard customer for life after this amazing service. As Shankman says:
“Customer service is no longer about telling people how great you are. It’s about producing amazing moments in time, and letting those moments become the focal point of how amazing you are, told not by you, but by the customer who you thrilled. They tell their friends, and the trust level goes up at a factor of a thousand. Think about it: Who do you trust more? An advertisement, or a friend telling you how awesome something is?”
The takeaway: it was no easy task for Morton’s to organize a steak to be ready and waiting for Shankman when he got off the plane. This stunt shows a commitment to a long-term customer and fantastic coordination from all the teams concerned at Morton’s.
8. Helped a teen with an interview
Often it’s down to individual customer service employees to identify situations where their business can go above and beyond to help the customer. Target is one such company, with an employee who rose to the occasion when one young man entered the store looking for a clip-on tie.
Unfortunately, Target only sold regular ties so they were not able to offer the customer what he needed. Instead of just going back to work, the employee stopped what he was doing and gave the customer a lesson in how to tie a tie. He didn’t stop there, however – he also went so far as to practice handshakes with the customer and do some practice interview questions.
As the customer left the store, the team at Target stood there cheering him on. This story went viral on social media because other customers witnessed the event and were really moved.
The takeaway: Often the best moments in customer service happen when the employee has the presence of mind to work out what a customer really needs. It certainly isn’t Target’s obligation to help a customer with a tie, but the employee wanted to help the young man prepare for a job interview. It was a gesture of kindness that didn’t go amiss.
9. Toilet paper to a customer in need
What if you’re a customer and you experience, well, an embarrassing moment while using a company’s service? This is exactly what happened to a passenger who was traveling on one of Virgin’s trains from Euston to Glasgow.
The unfortunate passenger was in the toilet doing a number two and realized too late that there was no toilet paper left. Being slightly amused by the situation, the passenger sent a tweet to Virgin that said:
“I’ve just had a reasonably large poo and there is no toilet roll left on the @virgintrains 19.30 train from Euston to Glasgow pls send help.”
The tweet was meant as a joke, but to his surprise Virgin replied with:
“@AdamPlaysYT Which coach, Adam?”
As a result of this exchange, Virgin quickly sent someone down to the cubicle with more toilet paper, and won themselves a very satisfied customer.
The takeaway: Coordinating someone to bring the passenger toilet paper requires communication between the team that manages the company’s social media customer service and attendants who serve the train. Virgin knows how to put the customer first and respond to a humorous situation.
10. Replacement glasses for train passenger
The small gestures can really make a difference when offering customers superior customer service. Surprising customers with thoughtful customer service is often the way to their hearts, as this executive from Warby Parker demonstrated when he replaced a customer’s lost glasses.
Passenger Michael John Mathis was on board the Acela Express, which is the Amtrak service running between Boston and Washington, D.C. When he disembarked the train, he didn’t realize that he had left his pair of Warby Parker reading glasses behind.
Without any hope of getting his glasses back, Mathis replaced them the very next day and thought no more about it – that is, until a package arrived in the mail. When he opened the package, he discovered two pairs of Warby Parker reading glasses, one being his original pair and a brand new pair.
It also included a note that said:
“Hi Michael, This might be odd… but you sat across from me on the train ride from NYC to Boston a few weeks ago and left your glasses on the train! As luck would have it, I happen to be the GC of Warby Parker, and there is nothing I like more than a good mystery… I hope these find you in good health! (Also, we noticed your lenses were scratched so we made you a fresh pair!) Sincerely, AK.”
AK was Anjali Kumar, the general counsel of Warby Parker. They had worked out where to send the package through Mathis’s order the following day, his prescription, and the unconventional style of reading glasses.
The takeaway: this is an example of customer service that shows truly exceptional attention to detail. It also highlights how customer service isn’t just the responsibility of one department. Warby Parker is a company dedicated to its customers who will go the extra mile to make them happy.
11. Helping with tech support
“Sorry, it’s not our policy” are some of the most disheartening words a customer can hear – especially an elderly user of technology whose laptop is broken. Luckily, this didn’t happen for one elderly client who called tech support about her defective Netbook.
The customer service rep who answered the call found out the woman had already suffered from two strokes, and was totally reliant on her Netbook to communicate with her daughter and son-in-law in Hawaii. Usually in this kind of case, the service rep would have to recall the broken item for repair, but when the woman found this out she began to cry.
Instead, the service rep sent out a new Netbook straightaway, helped her set up her new accounts and even installed Skype for her. The woman was immediately back in touch with her family, and so grateful that she sent the service rep a teddy bear with a hula skirt as a thank you.
The takeaway: It’s rare to encounter such sensitivity from service reps when dealing with vulnerable customers. It’s critical that employees are allowed to bend the rules for customers in special circumstances, and create these moments of customer service delight.
12. The adventures of Joshie the Giraffe
Some brands have a world-renowned reputation to maintain when it comes to customer service, and the Ritz-Carlton hotel is one of them. So when a young customer of the hotel left his favorite stuffed giraffe behind called Joshie, he didn’t expect the lengths the staff would go to to make him feel better.
The boy’s father told him that Joshie had gone on an extended vacation, and relayed his story to the hotel’s Loss Prevention team. The hotel staff obliged by documenting Joshie’s adventures with a binder of photos along with sending Joshie back.
The photos included Joshie sunbathing by the pool, receiving a massage, and making friends with other stuffed animals. The staff even made Joshie his own ID badge so he could become an official member of the team.
The takeaway: Companies like the Ritz-Carlton have built their business on their ability to provide exceptional customer service. They could have just sent back the giraffe, but instead they took advantage of an opportunity to delight their customers. It shows that the management at the Ritz-Carlton fully supports their staff to take care of customers.
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Some might think of it as a cynical ploy when companies go out of their way to create share-worthy moments with their customers. But as long as their focus is in the right place, it doesn’t matter if customers take to Twitter and Facebook to shout about the service that they have received.
These stories demonstrate that exceptional customer service is not dead. If you’d like more inspiration, check out these customer service quotes that will motivate you to provide the best customer service that you possibly can. Memorable customer service stories earn you loyal customers and the kind of positive press that money can’t buy.
Your goal should not be to go viral but instead simply to go above and beyond the call of duty to make your customers happy. If you earn extra customer engagement that’s simply a bonus for providing a culture of exceptional customer service.