Inspiring Examples Of Customer Service Excellence Across Industries

In today’s world of technological advancement and aware customers with a host of options available, just a click away – customer service excellence is crucial for an organisation’s survival and growth! A happy customer is the best form of advertisement. Businesses today value the importance of customer service, and some companies go the extra mile to make their customers feel special. 

“Well done is better than well said.”
– Benjamin Franklin.

Here we take a look at some inspiring anecdotes of excellent customer service from around the world.

Zappos Saves The Day

Jay was the best man at his friend’s wedding. As the best man, he knew he had to look dapper. After all, it was one of the most memorable occasions for his friend. He ordered his shoes from Zappos, an American online shoe and clothing retailer. He opted for 3-day shipping to ensure that his shoes arrived on time.

However, all his plans went down the drain when the courier company UPS sent the package to the wrong location. Jay called up UPS hoping that they would hold the package at the shipment centre. But that could not be done. With just one day left for the wedding, a frustrated Jay called up Zappos to see if they could help him. Zappos rose to the occasion, and how!

They upgraded Jay’s account to a VIP account so that he could get free overnight shipping. Zappos even gave him a full refund for his shoes! Jay wrote about his customer service experience, saying that Zappos had earned a customer for life. When a company allows its team members to give out perks to its customers, it can prove costly. However, it results in a great customer experience, which, in turn, earns you customer loyalty. Many would say, a small price to pay.

Flipkart Goes The Extra Mile

Rajagopal Natarajan had his train tickets booked and wanted to take the best companion for any travel with him – a book. Since he was supposed to travel the next day, he decided to order a book online from Flipkart, one of India’s largest e-commerce websites.

The address was in Bangalore, and according to Flipkart, the delivery time was three days. However, if you have shopped online in any of the Indian metros, you would know that delivery happens almost within 24 hours. Even though it said three days, Rajagopal’s previous experience made him order the book. Now, Flipkart had doubled its logistic team, but the new changes had some initial teething problems. It caused delays and other inefficiencies. The same happened with Rajagopal’s book. 

It was the day of the travel, and the book had not yet arrived. Rajagopal looked up the app, and it still had two days to go. Nevertheless, he decided to call up Flipkart, and what happened next was something he never expected. Despite the horrible Bangalore traffic, the delivery in-charge travelled for more than 15 kilometres to deliver the book right on time for his travel. Going the extra mile for something like a book may seem trivial for some. But it did set a great example of excellent customer service.

Sainsbury’s Accepts Feedback From A 3-Year-Old

A 3-year-old named Lily Robinson, visited the Sainsbury supermarket, the second-largest supermarket chain in the UK.  She was there with her parents and was quite confused by one of the products on display. It was the popular “Tiger Bread,” which she felt did not look like a tiger at all. Instead, it looked more like a giraffe.

She wrote a letter to the Sainsbury Customer Service Dept with her mother’s help. She wrote that Sainsbury should rename the tiger bread as giraffe bread because it did not resemble a tiger at all. Customer Support Manager Chris King agreed. He wrote back to Lily saying that the blotches on the bread indeed looked like a giraffe’s spots instead of a tiger’s stripes.

Sainsbury ended up naming the product Giraffe Bread. They put signs around the store stating the same and also noted that only the name has changed, as suggested by a customer. The bread still tasted just as wonderful as before. Lily’s mother posted the correspondence on social media, which was an instant hit.

The customer service guys at Sainsbury took advice from a little girl to do something fun. In turn, it became an example of what great customer service looks like.

Singapore International Airline ‘Takes Care’

Naomi Abraham was travelling on an SIA flight along with her husband and daughter. Her daughter was unwell and vomited after having some food. It was a huge mess. Anyone who looked at it would have been disgusted but not the SIA steward. He asked Naomi to take care of her daughter while he brought cleaning equipment to clean up the mess. He changed the seat cover and even apologised for not being able to change the belt as it was attached to the seat.

He remained calm throughout and did not seem to be bothered by the mess. Even after he was done cleaning, he would come to them from time to time, asking if everything was all right. He even put some coffee bags under their seat to mask the smell. Naomi and her husband were more than grateful and appreciative for such great customer service. The SIA steward went beyond his normal duties, and it showed that he cared.

Target guy helps a job seeker improve his chances.

This story comes from Raleigh, N.C. in US, which incidentally, I loved to visit as it happens to be an important HQ for my previous organisation.  The story is a simple one with a teenager visiting a Target store to buy a clip-on tie for a job interview. He was disappointed to find that the store only sold regular ties. Imagine his surprise when an employee from the store sensed his disappointment and offered to show him how to tie a regular tie!  Then two then exchanged several practice handshakes and even ran through mock interview questions! As he exited the store, several Target employees supported him with cheers. An observing customer recalled, “I was in Target while the employees were helping this young man. This picture cannot convey the warmth and kindness in their voices as they worked with him.”

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Gaylord Opryland wows a repeat customer.

Christina McMenemy was a regular at the Gaylord Opryland hotel, staying there three years in a row for the annual BlissDom conference. During her stays, she loved the alarm clock in her room that played a light music, the kind you’d experience in a spa. She had never slept better than she did while using it. She tried hard to find the exact model clock but to no avail.

She had nearly given up hope and just messaged the company’s Twitter page during her most recent trip to Opryland. She attended the conference and upon returning to her room guess what she found? She was surprised to find not one but two spa clocks and a nice letter with her name on it.  No wonder, she quoted:

“You reaffirmed that there are still companies out there focused on great service, and you’ve made a lifelong fan out of me.”–Christina McMenemy!

Mahindra Resort receptionist saves the day for a family.

This one is from India and often very fondly narrated by the storyteller Indranil Chakraborty, who himself had a long career at Mahindra.

A receptionist at the Mahindra Holidays resort in Coorg, Karnataka, received a call from a guest who was stuck in traffic on the way to the resort. He was worried that he would not be able to check-in before the resort’s restaurant ended its lunch service. He did not want his children to go hungry. So he requested that some food be kept aside for his family. As the receptionist relayed this message to the restaurant, a colleague asked, ‘Hey! Did you check with them about the route they were taking?’When the receptionist told him which route it was, his colleague jokingly said, ‘Pack some tea and cake with the lunch, they will take a long time to reach. That road has been blocked anticipating the arrival of the chief minister to inaugurate the local flower show.’ The worried receptionist muttered, ‘There are kids in the car.’ Half an hour later, when his shift was over, the receptionist loaded four lunch boxes on to his motorcycle. Revving his bike through small lanes for about 1.2 km, he kept calling the member’s mobile phone until he finally reached the car. He handed over the packets and said, ‘Your children must be very hungry!’

Miraculous Bungie!

A father whose son had to receive liver transplant surgery around the holidays, to keep his son in good spirits, reaches out to his favourite video game franchise Bungie. The response he received from Bungie went far beyond what he ever expected!

First, the entire Bungie team signed and sent a card with get-well wishes.

Then the team built him a custom helmet based on the main character and sent it — along with shirts, toys, and custom art from the game’s designers. The father later posted a thank you thread and a collection of images on Christmas day, which was when Bungie visited his son in the hospital and brought the gifts.“ He was absolutely shocked when he saw the custom helmet from Halo Reach! Bungie, you have played a huge part in making this smile! My family can’t thank you enough!”

Trader Joe chooses to do “the right thing”.

Much like the lockdown days, an elderly man was snowed in at his Pennsylvanian home around the holidays, and his daughter was worried that he was not going to have access to enough food due to the impending storm and bad weather in the area.

After calling multiple stores in a desperate attempt to find anyone who would deliver to her father’s home, she finally got hold of someone at Trader Joe’s. Now Trader Joe didn’t deliver to that place too but given the circumstances they said that they would deliver directly to his home and even suggested additional delivery items that would fit perfectly with his special low-sodium diet.

After the daughter placed the order for the food, the employee on the phone told her that she did not need to worry about the price; the food would be delivered free of charge. The employee then wished her a Merry Christmas. In less than 30 minutes, the food was at the man’s doorstep — for free! How many companies you think would choose “doing right thing” vs “doing the thing” when confronted with such choice?

Ritz-Carlton’s Joshie vacation story.

Ritz-Carlton has a legendary reputation for service. And for a good reason. Among the many stories, one which touches the heart is the story of Joshie, the giraffe.

The story begins when customer Chris Hurn’s son left his favourite stuffed giraffe, “Joshie,” in their hotel room after their stay. To console his son, Hurn assured his son that Joshie was just staying a few extra days on vacation. He then called the staff at the Ritz and relayed the story he had told his son.

In an all-star effort to make everything right for their customer, the staff at the Ritz created a series of photographs that included all the activities Joshie had been involved in during his “extended vacation.”

First things first: They knew Joshie couldn’t just be aimlessly wandering around the Ritz without a staff card … so they made him one! After that, Joshie headed over to the pool area to relax. Not one to sit around and do nothing, Joshie helped in the loss prevention department. Joshie then decided to melt away some stress with a spa day.

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To top it all off, the Ritz sent Hurn and his son a booklet filled with information about Joshie’s stay, as well as a host of pictures showing what a good time he had!

Wendy’s picture speaks louder than thousand words.

This story is about a heart-warming moment – a picture posted on Reddit, the submitter clearly captured a moment: amidst a pretty harsh rainstorm, a Wendy’s employee went outside, removed an umbrella from one of the tables, and walked an elderly man to his car. What a story!

Domino’s saves a regular’s life

A Domino’s in Salem, Oregon noticed when a regular customer, Kirk Alexander, stopped ordering for two weeks. According to the restaurant manager Sarah Fuller, Alexander had been ordering at least every other day since 2009.

After Alexander had not ordered for 11 days, Fuller asked a delivery driver to visit Alexander at his home to make sure he was okay. When he arrived, the driver noticed something was off—the lights and TV were on, but Alexander was not answering. The driver called 911, and the police found Alexander in his home in need of immediate medical attention. He recovered at the hospital, but it is unlikely that he would have survived without that Domino’s branch having checked up on him.

An H&M employee practicing the “Inclusive Mindset”.

D&I is a buzz wordnow-a-days. A lot is being talked about it. Do you have stories from your organisation where someone demonstrated “inclusiveness” through his/her behaviour? Here is one reported on Reddit by a user who was shopping with his Muslim friend at H&M at Indiana.

 

A Lego service lights up a heart.

A long time Lego fan Luka spent all of his Christmas money on a Ninjago (Lego ninja) named Jay XZ. Against his dad’s advisement, he brought his Ninjago on a shopping trip … and lost it. Devasted, he wrote a letter to Lego explaining his loss and assuring the Lego staff that he would take extra-special care of his action figure if they sent him another one.

The response he received from Lego customer support representative Richard was nothing short of amazing. Richard told Luke that he had talked to Sensei Wu (a Ninjago character), writing:

Sensei Wu told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan. Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: “keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your dad”.

It’s so rare to see such a thoughtful, creative response to a distraught customer that this story went viral.

Would you call a competitor to help customer if you can’t?

A customer was visiting the B Dalton store to pick up a book requested by her son for Christmas. The young lady at the counter looked in the computer inventory to see if they had the requested book. She could find none. For the sake of not stopping the relentless pursuit of customer happiness, the B. Dalton representative actually called their competition (in this case, Borders) to reserve a book for the customer and printed out directions to where she could pick it up!

“She gave me the contact name at Borders and told me to just go up to the counter and my book would be waiting.” While the B. Dalton team may not have made the sale that day, their outstanding commitment to wowing customers won them a repeat shopper for life.

Indigo makes my Day!

The last one is a personal one. On a pre-pandemic early morning on 18th November 2019, which was my birthday, my family and a friend’s family, together flew from Cochin to Maldives. While I was extremely excited about Maldives, I was little sad about spending my birthday morning rushing out to board a flight. Midway through the flight, somewhere above the Indian Ocean, the Pilot suddenly announced, “today we have the pleasure of flying Sanjay Lohani (seat no. xx), who happens to be celebrating his birthday today and we wish him many happy returns of the day”.

Even at my age, this announcement made me excited as many faces turned to me with kind smiles and warm shake hands. As if this was not enough, soon three airhostesses appeared carrying a hand-written card with a small pastry to wish me a happy birthday! Imagine the excitement of my 4-year daughter sitting beside me, watching this!

While most people wish birthdays, the staff of Indigo on that day, through their behaviour, showed love and showered heartfelt wishes. As we were about to deboard, the pilot came out and personally wished me again.

That act that day, not only made my day, but also made me and my family a fan of Indigo Airlines.

Conclusion

Whatever the situation may be, making your customers feel special is important. When companies go beyond their customers’ expectations, customers take notice and share the experience with their friends and family and sometimes with the world. With social media, a simple post can show the world how great the company was and how happy it made the customer. 

The best customer service begins at the frontline. When frontline members of a company see their customers as more than just that and go the extra mile, it results in great customer service stories.

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