Every company executive knows that exceptional customer service is essential to a corporate future. But that doesn’t mean service has to be routine; it can be outrageously or unexpectedly good. In fact, the more creative or flexible you can be demonstrating outstanding customer service, the likelier the service will be positively remembered. There are many examples in companies across the U.S. of innovative responses to customer concerns.
Consider Southwest Airlines. A passenger complained in writing, with adorable graphics, about a bag damaged during flight. The airline didn’t just send a letter of apology. It empowered a customer service agent to craft a letter resembling an electronic poster, complete with cute photos and news that a check was on its way to reimburse the customer for the cost of the bag. Communication acknowledging a customer’s complaint and promising to rectify the situation promptly is more memorable when framed in a genuinely human response.
Pizza chain Mellow Mushroom granted a deployed soldier husband’s request to deliver a pizza to his wife back home in Jacksonville, Fla. The restaurant went above and beyond, baking the pizza in a heart shape and adding balloons at the time of delivery. One of the lessons of this example of customer service is “know your customers as people, not just as part of a demographic.”
When a customer walked into a Krispy Kreme donut store and asked for donuts that looked like the Olympics’ interlocking rings, the store associate figured out a way to comply with the unusual request. The takeaway from this exchange: just be nice and encourage employees to take ownership of a customer request.
These and other businesses know how to create goodwill, encouraging brand loyalty, forging forgiveness when mistakes happen and setting a company apart from its competition.
Apple’s iconic service delivered by friendly, approachable geeks is on display at 300 Apple stores worldwide. It’s also evident by the actually helpful technical help provided over the phone. Even if you can’t offer super-cool retail outlets designed to look like historically significant tourist attractions, you can ensure that your repair, replacement and upgrade processes are as streamlined as possible.
Even businesses appreciate flexible options for payment. The Plum Card from American Express gives a discount for making a payment before the billing cycle closes, or up to 60 days to pay the balance without interest. Cardholders also can choose their own billing statement date. Customers can optimize their payment date and the company loses nothing, as they still get paid. They do gain a leg up on their competitors by providing something the consumer wants.
At Zappos, the online site famous for a nearly endless selection of shoes, a supportive company culture translates into truly helpful customer service representatives. Buoyed by the company’s most notable perk, free return shipping for up to a year after purchase, buyers also can count on surprise upgrades with orders and easy-to-achieve preferred customer status. All of this superior customer attention translates into 11 million purchasing customers, 75 percent of whom are repeat customers. Resolve to implement a one-of-a-kind hallmark for your company’s customer service.
LEGO responded to a 7-year-old’s email about his lost minifigure by sending him a replacement toy and additional accessories, along with a note acknowledging the company’s gratitude for the child being such a big fan of the toy. That extra-mile gesture is likely to resonate with the little boy for the rest of his life.
What other outstanding customer service responses have you seen from companies? Please share in the comments.
About the Author
Amanda Benjamin can often be found at tech conferences, promoting CRM platforms that connect agents with customers in real time.