Why do consumers enjoy reading stories of great customer experiences? It might be that these stories personalize your business and provide a constant reminder that there are amazing professionals and companies who create a customer experience with their unforgetable customer service.
As Benjamin Franklin would put it: “Well done is better than well said.”
We wholeheartedly agree, and throughout this post, we’ll take a close look at some memorable stories in an effort to highlight those businesses who “walk the walk” when it comes to delivering the kind of service that wins a customer over for life.
Along the way, you’ll find insights for your own business to consider and some exceptional inspiration to pass on to your support team.
Trader Joe’s Actually Delivered
A woman was worried that her 89 year old father was snowed in at his Pennsylvania home and wasn’t going to have enough food for the holidays because of the bad weather in the area.
She frantically called multiple stores in a desperate attempt to find anyone who would deliver to her father’s home. She finally reached someone at Trader Joe’s. The Trader Joe’s associate politely told her that they do not deliver … normally.
Given the extreme circumstance, they told her that they would gladly 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 didn’t need to worry about the price; the food would be delivered free of charge. The employee then wished her a Merry Christmas.
Less than 30 minutes later the food was at the man’s doorstep — for free!
In refusing to let red tape get in the way of a customer in need, Trader Joe’s shows that customer service doesn’t need to be about the fanfare. By empowering their employees to act outside of company guidelines, Trader Joe’s shows that their company philosophy is customer focused rather than operations focused.
Their employees embrace making the customer the heart of their customer experience. Your companies core values are integral to making your customer experience simply about doing whats right.
Dying Mother Changes United Airlines Flight Schedule
It’s always heart-wrenching when a close family member passes. Sharing the final moments with a person we love can be a small respite in a truly difficult situation.
When Kerry Drake got on his United Airlines flight, the mother he was en route to see was facing her final hours. To add an extra layer of distress, Drake knew that if he missed his connecting flight he would likely not see her before she passed.
After his first flight got delayed, Drake broke down into tears on the plane. The flight attendants soon noticed his state and quickly found out what was wrong. Within minutes, Drake’s dilemma was re- layed to the captain, who radioed ahead to Drake’s next flight.
The flight’s crew responded by delaying the flight’s departure to make sure he got on board.
“I was still like maybe 20 yards away when I heard the gate agent say, ‘Mr. Drake, we’ve been expecting you,’” he said.
When Drake finally sat on the second flight, he realized how much went into getting him onto the plane. He realized how the United Airlines flight crews had put his needs above their flight schedule. They were able to do this because they felt that the customer’s needs were greater than any company mandates.
Kerry said, “I was overcome with emotion!”
The result of many staff members working together to go above-and-beyond the call of duty. They helped this customer, Kerry Drake make it to the hospital in time to see his mother.
“At one point she opened her eyes, and I think she recognized me,” said Drake, who spent the night at the hospital. “Around 4 a.m. she had a real moment of coherence, a last rally, although we didn’t know it at the time. It was the last time.”
She died that very morning.
Drake wrote the staff a heartfelt thank you letter expressing his immense gratitude for a team who was willing to pull together and pull out all the stops to assist in any way they could.
In the coverage of this story on CNN, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot said:
“Airline employees are evaluated based on their ability to keep a schedule. Airlines compete with each other on who has the best on-time departure record. When the crew on this flight heard about this distraught passenger trying to make his connection, they must have said, ‘To hell with it’ … and they made the right call.”
We think so, too.
Joshie the Giraffes’ Extended Vacation at Ritz-Carlton
Ritz-Carlton is one of those few large companies that is held to high standards from their consumers. With an almost legendary reputation for service, one has to wonder: Do they really live up to the hype?
The story of Joshie the giraffe certainly presents a compelling case for “yes!” In case you’ve never come across this fantastic tale, the story begins when customer Chris Hurn’s son left his favorite stuffed giraffe, “Joshie,” in their hotel room after a recent stay.
Mr. Hurn assured his distraught 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 of 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 out in the loss prevention department.
Joshie then decided to melt away some stress with a spa day.
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’d had. What a story!
Bungie Studios Created a Holiday Smile
The belief that you should do your best to “make things right” with customers in tough situations is a recurring theme among those companies with legendary customer service. That said, even the greats of the customer service world will have a hard time topping this next story.
In another outstanding example of taking care of customers, Bungie Studios, one of the most beloved game developers in the industry, raised the bar for their willingness to take care of their fans.
The story begins with a distraught father whose son had to receive liver transplant surgery around the holidays.
Since being in the hospital left his son unable to play the newest release of his favorite video game franchise, Halo, his dad reached out to Bungie.
The response he received from the company went far beyond what anyone expected! First, the entire Bungie team signed and sent a card with get-well wishes.
To make up for missing out on playing Halo, the team built him a custom helmet based off of the main character and sent it along with shirts, toys and custom art from the game’s designers.
His 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!”
A Loyal Customer is ‘WOWed’ by Gaylord Opryland
It doesn’t take a lot of consumer data to support the argument that your regular customers are the rock you build your business on. Taking care of them is not just the right thing to do. It’s also good for business.
Let’s look at the case of regular Gaylord Opryland hotel customer Christina McMenemy. She stayed at the resort three years in a row for the annual BlissDom conference.
During each stay McMenemy found herself entranced by one of the features in her hotel room. She loved the alarm clock that played light music, much like the kind of music that you’d experience in a highend spa.
McMenemy loved the clock radio. She felt that she had never slept better than she did while using it.
For three years McMenemy tried to find the exact model clock from her hotel room, but to no avail. McMenemy had nearly given up hope when she messaged the company’s Twitter page during her most recent trip to Opryland.
Resigned to her fate, she attended the conference and let the alarm clock hunt go.
But upon returning to her room she was surprised to find not one but two spa clocks and a letter with her name on it.
Opryland recognized an opportunity to make sure a long-time customer had one of the best experiences ever. And they didn’t just win a customer for life, they also bought plenty of goodwill with folks at the conference and beyond who subsequently heard about the story.
“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
Luka’s Day is Saved by a Lego Service Rep
Losing a favorite toy feels devastating to a young child. Longtime Lego fan Luka Apps 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.
Luka 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.
My name is Luka Apps and I am seven years old.
With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kit of the Ultrasonic Raider. The number is 9449. It is really good.
My Daddy just took me to Sainsbury’s and told me to leave the people at home but I took them and I lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat.
I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you a email to see if you will send me another one.
I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.
The response he received from Lego customer representative Richard was nothing short of amazing. Richard told Luke that he had talked to Sensei Wu a Ninjago character, and wrote:
Sensei Wu told me to tell you, “Luka, your father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu!”
Sensei Wu also 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.
Jim Shukys’ Auto Service Sweats the Small Stuff
Many of the memorable stories that we’ve covered so far focus on a company’s stellar response to an usual situation … but what about those day-to-day service stories?
That’s why we love this next story shared by a customer in Streetsboro, Ohio.
The story was posted on Reddit under the appropriately titled topic of “I have never in my life seen this level of customer service” and included this genuine, thoughtful thank-you note.
The best part of this tale is that despite the fact that this image was shared on the internet, random commenters started pointing out that they knew who this was:
“I used to live in Streetsboro and I know exactly who that is. He’s a good man, stay with him!”
Now that’s the definition of memorable service! The praise continued with noncustomers, too, with one commenter saying,
“It’s little things like this that earn business. If I got this card I would never use another mechanic in my life.”
Do you have a great customer service story you can share with us? Tell us how someone went ‘above and beyond’ to give you a truly memorable, remarkable and relatable customer service experience….