Although I usually frown upon the use of the word “nowadays,” examples of great customer service really have become scarce nowadays. That said, little rays of hope for humanity (or consumers) do make their way through overcast skies every now and then. By this time, you’re probably shaking your head in disbelief. I get it. I really do. I wouldn’t believe me either. I do, however, have solid proof to back up my theory. The following list displays four examples of excellent customer service from companies in need of some much deserved credit for going out of their way just to make someone else’s day better. Although it might be easier to ignore customers’ complaints or overlook product problems, companies can count on the fact that it’s not going to do them any favors in the long run, a profitable truth the companies featured below caught onto a long time ago.
Examples of Outstanding Customer Service
I’d like to start this list off with a personal experience. Being an American expat in Germany, I often find myself reminiscing about things only attainable in the States. Unless you’re willing to spend a horrendous amount on international shipping (which I am not), you’re just plain out of luck. So it’s a given that when I head back to visit family and friends, I stock up (hoard might admittedly be a better choice of word here) on things that I can’t get in Europe. I’ll fill up my suitcase with German goodies for my family and leave with a suitcase full of American goodies just for me. Seriously. I don’t share.
During my last trip to visit over the Christmas holidays, I was excited to save a few bucks by buying a pair of brand name headphones in the States. I was just as devastated to see that they were sold out in every store within close proximity to where I was staying. However, ordering them online wasn’t really an option unless I was willing to pay the ungodly prices for overnight shipping, which is almost as bad as the international rate. After carefully calculating the amount I would have to pay more in Europe due to the currency exchange rate, I realized I would still save money even with the additional shipping costs. I went ahead and ordered them on Amazon.com later that night, feeling somewhat sly.
However, that feeling didn’t last long. They weren’t delivered the next day as promised, or even the day after that.
I know what you’re thinking – “I thought this was supposed to be a list of positive examples of customer service!” Deliveries were backed up due to a strike at the time and, well, because Christmas. Even though Amazon couldn’t deliver on their guaranteed overnight shipping, it was what happened afterwards that counts and, funny enough, what consequently turned me into a lifelong loyal customer.
I was pretty upset when I sent an email to an Amazon representative. I let them know about my situation – how I had chosen overnight delivery because I was leaving for Germany in a few days and really needed what I ordered. It was a big deal for me. Any product I buy from home and bring to my other home is important to me. I received a heartfelt apology within mere hours and was granted a full refund of the overnight shipping costs and then some. Amazon had literally just paid me $5 to take a pair of headphones off their hands. It might not sound like much, but it was a true show of colors for me. My order was delivered early the next day.
A great customer experience isn’t always about keeping promises or constantly outdoing yourself. It can also be about a small show of kindness or admitting when you’ve done something wrong. For me, exceptional customer service is about doing the right thing even when you’re not obligated to, which is exactly what the following 3 stories are all about.
Frontier Airlines – Pizzas on a plane
We all know how incredibly frustrating it is to sit in a grounded plane, especially if you’re being treated like a prisoner and aren’t allowed off the aircraft. Passengers on a Frontier flight had to endure exactly that after it was forced to divert course to avoid bad weather. After sitting on the tarmac for hours, the captain’s stomach had started to growl, and, what else is there to do when you’re hungry than oder pizza? However, this was no ordinary pizza-hogging captain. Not only did he order pizza for himself and his crew, he also grabbed a few extra pies for the passengers on the parked plane, and then had the $400 bill charged to his own private credit card. The types of pizza he ordered could not be confirmed at the time, meaning we can’t entirely say if the $400 were worth it or not. Either way, it’s safe to say that merely disgruntled passengers are much better than disgruntled and hungry passengers. Kudos – or, should we say Dominos – to you, Captain.
Ritz-Carlton – Joshie the Giraffe giving Tiger Woods a run for his money
Many people can remember how much it hurt to lose a favorite toy as a kid or have experienced a child’s devastated reaction to a missing teddy bear first-hand. Some parents decide to make a life lesson out of misplaced belongings and have their children learn about loss the hard way, while others invent little white lies to tide their children over until they can either locate the old toy or buy a new one. One Ritz-Carlton guest chose the latter after his child accidentally left his beloved giraffe, Joshie, in their hotel suite. To ease his son’s troubled mind, he told his child that Joshie was taking an extended giraffe vacation to recover from his high-pressure job as a stuffed animal.
Later that night, the family received a call from a Ritz-Carlton staff member, saying they had found Joshie free of harm. To back his story about Joshie’s vacation, the child’s father asked if they would be willing to take a picture of Joshie chilling by the pool. But Joshie had bigger plans than merely getting his tan on.
A few days passed, and the family received a package not only including beloved Joshie, but also some cool freebies, and a priceless photo journal of Joshie’s adventures at the Ritz.
This customer experience is something extremely special. The pictures not only delighted the family, but also made for a fun, morale-building activity for the entire team, which is exactly what will make them great employees for years to come.
Gillette knows how to deal with hairy situations
Ever heard of Gillette’s Proglide Styler? It’s their new groomer with an innovative 3-in-1 concept that is revolutionizing manscaping! Or, well, it was supposed to anyway… Unfortunately, it turned out that the 3-in-1 attachments (the main selling point is the trimmer) break extremely easily. Oops. This understandably irritates not only the skin of loyal Gillette customers. However, it’s ultimately no big deal because those broken attachments are interchangeable, meaning you can buy them separately online… Right?
After hours of frustrating online research, every Gillette customer will come to the conclusion that there is no way of obtaining new attachments without buying a whole new razor, even if they already have a (somewhat) perfectly good one at home, which is not only wasteful, but also very expensive. Those things cost around $20 a pop.
One customer was so saddened by the resignation of his favorite razor that he decided to inform Gillette of the dire situation in hopes of finding a solution together. He wrote them a detailed email, explaining why he wasn’t willing to just throw away his fully-functional razor and asking if there was anything they could do.
He didn’t have to wait long for an answer – he received an email from a member of Gillette’s customer support team less than 24 hours later. Gillette offered to send their loyal customer the attachments he needed to continue his happy, stubble-free life.
This story proves that the occasional product malfunction can actually strengthen the customer bond as long as you’re open to customer ideas and able to offer solutions.
As I mentioned earlier, the perfect customer experience isn’t always about the best product, high-end presents, or big marketing events. Things will go wrong. Products will break. That part is inevitable. But by showing customers that you’re willing to go the extra mile to fix your mistakes, you’ll be able to retain their business and impress with your customer service. Put yourself up to the ultimate test by comparing your business to the examples above and asking yourself how you’re measuring up. If it’s anything less than, “I do just as much to make my customers happy,” it’s simply not enough!
Connect with the author, Robyn Mize.