While many companies do their best to consistently wow customers, a few leading brands have become legendary for it. Their entire enterprise revolves around the customer. This customer-centric management style and mindset manifests in some very surprising ways.
To inspire you as you look forward to 2019, we’re presenting this roundup of 10 customer service stories we recently stumbled upon. Each one features a front-line employee going the extra mile to care for a customer, from spreading a little joy to saving a life. We hope these stories will leave you with some good takeaways and add to your holiday cheer.
1. Starbucks Employee Learns Sign Language to Better Serve a Deaf Customer
For Ibby Piracha, being deaf made the customer journey at his favorite Starbucks in Leesburg, Virginia a bit of a challenge. Barista Krystal Payne wanted to ease Ibby’s burden and make his customer experience effortless. So in her down time, she did some studying.
One day, she handed Ibby a note: I’ve been learning ASL, American Sign Language, just so you can have the same experience as everyone else. Ibby was so overwhelmed by the gesture, he had the note framed.
Krystal explained her decision this way. “If he’s a regular, and I want to make that connection with my regulars, I should be able to at least ask him what he wants to drink.”
Here’s Shep Hyken’s great take on this amazing story.
2. Trader Joe’s Steps Up for an Elderly Neighbor
A young woman was afraid her 89-year-old father would run out of food after a snowstorm left him trapped in his house. She called a number of grocery stores in the area hoping to arrange a delivery to her father’s home, but she came up empty . . . until she called Trader Joe’s.
The Trader Joe’s employee told her the store usually doesn’t deliver. But in this case, they were happy to make an exception. As the daughter placed her order, the employee suggested additional items that would fit her father’s restricted diet. Once the order was complete, the employee said the food was on the house, and the free groceries arrived at their destination less than 30 minutes later.
3. Target Employee Helps Job-Seeking Teen Improve His Chances
A teenager visited a Raleigh, N.C. Target to buy a clip-on tie for a job interview. But the store sold only regular ties. Instead of leaving empty-handed, the young man got help from an employee who offered to show him how to tie a regular tie. Then the two exchanged several practice handshakes and ran through some mock interview questions.
Before exiting the store, the teen was met with cheers of support from other Target employees. As another customer observed, “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.”
4. Netflix Puts the Fun in Live Chat
What happens when a fun-loving, highly responsive customer service agent meets a good-humored customer? You get a chat session like this. Michael, the Netflix representative handling this contact, decided to show a little personality—and the result was pure customer service gold.
Note the customer’s response at the end of the session, after Michael asks him if there are any other issues he needs help with: “I almost wish there were.”
5. Domino’s Employees Show Concern and Save a Life
After longtime regular Kirk Alexander failed to order pizza for two weeks, employees at the Salem, Oregon Domino’s knew something wasn’t right. Branch manager Sarah Fuller asked one of her delivery drivers to visit Alexander’s home and check on him. The driver saw that the lights and TV were on, but Alexander never answered the door. So the driver called 911.
Thanks to this fortunate series of events, which began with an attentive, caring Domino’s team, Kirk received life-saving medical attention and went on to make a full recovery.
6. Walmart Customer Gets Kind Help From a Personal Shopper
Upon hearing a blind customer needed help navigating the store and filling his cart, Walmart employee Brittany Walton felt the need to assist. So she asked a fellow employee to take her position behind the customer service counter, and she spent two hours guiding the customer (lovingly nicknamed “Mr. Roy”) through the aisles.
The sight of the pair holding hands and chatting like old friends moved another customer to post a photo on Facebook, which soon went viral and was picked up by several major news outlets. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was so impressed by what he saw, he publicly praised Brittany for “excellence in customer service.”
7. Southwest Offers Heartfelt Service and Support in Customer’s Time of Need
Southwest passenger Stacy Hurt flew home to Pittsburgh the night before a chemotherapy session for colon cancer, only to find that her luggage didn’t make the trip. Unfortunately, in her missing bag were some treasured items (a rosary and lucky shirt) and her much-needed medication.
When Stacy called the airport late that night, she was connected with Southwest employee Sarah Rowan, whose own father had passed away during cancer treatment. Sarah promised she would find and deliver the bag ahead of Stacy’s 9 a.m. appointment. And she did, driving it to Stacy’s house herself around 2 a.m.
The next morning, Stacy’s suitcase was waiting for her on her front porch. Inside was a note from Sarah herself: “Sorry for the delay in getting your bag to you. Myself + my Southwest family are thinking of you + wishing you all the best. Kick that cancer’s BUTT!”
Stacy was deeply touched by Sarah’s efforts, which made local and national headlines.
8. JetBlue Puts the “Social” in Social Media
Alex Silberman tweeted JetBlue with a simple question regarding standby flights and the company’s $50 same-day change fee. The company tweeted back a response within three minutes, clearing up Alex’s confusion. He thanked them for the information and went about his day.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Knowing Alex would soon be landing at Logan Airport in Boston, the customer service employee who exchanged tweets with him alerted the JetBlue team in Boston, who found and studied Alex’s Twitter profile picture. After the plane landed, they intercepted him at the gate and personally greeted him—thus turning an already satisfying customer service experience into an unforgettable one.
9. American Airlines “Real Hero” Saves Two Lives in One Night
Former firefighter and American Airlines employee Christofer Hatcu was in the right place at the right time, twice in one night.
As he neared the end of his shift, Hatcu heard passengers pleading for help for a man having a heart attack in the terminal. So he acted fast and performed life-saving CPR. A few minutes later, he learned of another passenger having a heart attack ten gates down. He made a mad dash through the terminal and successfully resuscitated the second passenger.
For his good deeds, Hatcu was awarded a $1,000 check and an American Airlines Real Hero cape at a company awards ceremony.
10. American Express Tackles Credit Card Fraud With Finesse
When credit card fraud strikes, the timing is never good. And the anguish is real. In this case, American Express responded quickly—and on the cardmember’s terms 100%.
Shep Hyken got a call from American Express informing him about multiple charges made overseas. Turns out, his card number had been stolen. The support team member told Shep the account would be closed right away and the charges would be reversed. But she didn’t stop there.
When Shep said he would be in another city that evening—and not at home to receive the new card the next day—the agent asked if she could route the new card to Shep’s hotel for a 10:30 a.m. delivery.
Shep’s take on the encounter? “This is more than customer service. This is confidence creation.”
Next Up: Winning Back the Hearts of Angry Customers
Stories like these showcase the inherent value of great service. It brings people together and creates lasting emotional bonds. For the customer-centric company, surprising customers with genuine acts of kindness and support isn’t a cynical ploy; it’s simply a matter of bringing brand values to life.
There are a million ways brands can make a loyal customer’s day. But what about surprising and delighting the angry customer? In our next post, we discuss service recovery: why it’s needed, what it should look like, and how you can restore and strengthen damaged customer relationships in a systematic, scalable way.
Also, make sure to check out our best customer service stories for 2017, if you missed them.