5 Unforgettable Customer Service Stories

7 min to read · By Tony Iero

In this age of online-first exploration, where a negative experience review can immediately attack your company or brand, companies compete to deliver the best customer service experience. Negative stories of poor customer service are media favorites—you see companies impacted by bad service or products on an almost-daily basis in social media channels.

Although not as commonly told, tales of positive customer service experiences are out there, too. And, they can serve as a tremendous inspiration for companies to raise the quality of their own service. To motivate you to think beyond the basics, we’ve gathered up a collection of some of the most shining examples of customer service that will amaze and impress you.

Good customer satisfaction means making sure the customer is taken care of and that they receive the attention and respect they deserve in order to create loyalty to your company or brand. Great customer service means taking an extra step or two, like following up, or offering some extra bonus like a discount on services. But creating delight—where you go far above and beyond great customer service—is a special attribute that only a few companies can claim.

A one-of-a-kind steak experience

Photo of shankman receiving his Morton's steakhouse mealSource: Andragogy

Why worry about creating delight? According to an Accenture survey, 48% of consumers expect to be treated well because they are good customers.

Morton’s Steakhouse gets it.

One of the biggest proponents of going the extra mile to provide great service comes from author and business consultant Peter Shankman. In 2013, he shared an incredible story that went viral because it was such an exemplary case of a business “moving mountains” to please a customer.

After a day of business travel, Shankman jokingly tweeted before his plane ride home that he wanted Morton’s Steakhouse to meet him at the Newark airport with a Porterhouse steak when he landed.

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As a frequent customer of Morton’s, Shankman knew they had great service, but he certainly wasn’t expecting to find a tuxedo-clad server at the airport holding a Morton’s bag. Inside, he found a 24-ounce steak, an order of shrimp, a side of potatoes, a round of bread, two napkins, and silverware.

What made this spectacular show of service even more amazing was the fact that the restaurant is 23.5 miles away from the airport. In the three hours from the time Shankman tweeted his “request,” Morton’s corporate office saw the tweet, obtained authorization to make the meal, got in touch with the local restaurant, placed the order, and coordinated its delivery.

Customer service lesson: Take the extra step to create delight in your customer satisfaction efforts.

Quick shoe delivery: mission completed

photo of zappos team delivering a special shoe

Forty-nine percent of buyers are influenced to make purchases when there’s a good, personalized customer experience—and online shoe retailer and e-commerce favorite Zappos is well-known for being a customer service rock star.

They don’t argue about returns and respond to customer emails at a lightning-fast speed. Zappos has even been known to shop at other stores for customers when they need something specific that is not in stock, going beyond the call of duty to fulfill customer expectations.

This heroic level of customer service was certainly shown when a Zappos customer had forgotten a pair of her favorite shoes on a trip to Las Vegas. Upon realizing that she didn’t have the shoes she had purchased from Zappos, she went back to their website to order a replacement pair. When she couldn’t find them, she called the company’s customer service department.

Unfortunately, Zappos no longer carried this particular pair of shoes. However, with their headquarters located in Las Vegas, a customer service rep decided to try and find them in a local mall. They were indeed found and hand-delivered to the customer’s hotel at no charge the next day.

Companies are spending millions on upgrading their customer experience initiatives—global spending on CX is predicted to hit $641 billion in 2022.

The money is well spent. Sixty-five percent of U.S. consumers find that a great experience is more influential than great advertising.

Customer service lesson: A great experience is worth more than you think.

Personalized customer service at Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's storefront

Consumers love when the customer service team takes the extra step of personalizing their experience like Trader Joe’s did a couple of years ago.

Trader Joe’s is a favorite destination for filling up a cart full of groceries with fun products and great prices. They’re also highly respected in their industry for providing personalized customer service.

Pre-pandemic, an 89-year-old grandfather was snowed in and didn’t have enough food to make meals for himself. His daughter, who was located in another state, called several markets in her father’s area to see if they offered grocery delivery service. The only one that said they could deliver food was Trader Joe’s.

The reality is that Trader Joe’s didn’t offer delivery back then (although they do now), but they wanted to help this elderly WWII veteran. As the daughter placed the order, the Trader Joe’s representative made additional recommendations that would be suitable for the elderly man’s low sodium diet. The food was delivered, and they didn’t charge him or her for delivery or the groceries.

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An Epsilon report found that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that personalizes their services, and 90% of consumers like the idea of personalization. Trader Joe’s saw the writing on the wall.

Customer service lesson: Personalizing the customer experience leads to better customer satisfaction

Lexus is putting the customer first

Lexus sedan

Lexus understands customer loyalty. No one enjoys having to deal with a vehicle recall. It usually requires a trip to the dealership and a lengthy wait for repairs to be made. In other words, it’s a big inconvenience to the car owner, even when the repair work and parts are free.

Lexus also knows the pain point customers experience with vehicle recalls and came up with a unique customer support solution to the problem a couple of years ago. Instead of asking their customers to bring their Lexus ES 350 sedan in to fix a recall issue (which affected about 700 cars before the factory fixed it), they simply asked them to come to the dealership to pick up a brand-new car.

This power move by Lexus did more than just cement them as a premier car company. According to reports from J.D. Power, Lexus ranks a score of 889, making them the highest-rated luxury brand in satisfaction with dealer service. Lexus repaired the transmissions on the affected cars and sold them at auction—for as much as (if not more than) the company would have gotten in the first place.

The best customer service experiences do more than satisfy one customer—they increase the chances that customers will tell others, hopefully bringing in new revenue. And that means growth: HubSpot reports that 81% of consumers will trust a friend or family recommendation rather than advice from a company.

Customer service lesson: Good customer service increases brand loyalty, helps with customer retention, and spreads great word of mouth.

Finding a lost giraffe

images from Ritz Carlton of the customer's toy experience

Ritz-Carlton Hotels have a legendary reputation for service. As a premium brand, they know that they have to live up to the expectations of each and every customer. This certainly was the case for Chris Hurn, father of a little boy who left his favorite stuffed giraffe “Joshie” in a Ritz-Carlton hotel room after a stay.

Upon realizing that the giraffe was missing, Chris told his upset son that Joshie was just vacationing for a few extra days. He then called the hotel to ask them if they could mail him back his son’s prized possession.

To assure Chris’s son that Joshie was safe, the hotel staff took a series of photos of Joshie during his “extended vacation.” The giraffe was photographed lounging by the pool, getting a massage, and even helping out in the hotel’s loss prevention department. Then, the hotel mailed Joshie back to Chris’s son along with the photos and a booklet filled with information about his stay in the hotel—a heartwarming extra touch. The Ritz-Carlton staff (most likely with a parent or two onboard) realized this customer’s consternation, their anxiety as a parent, and their joy at making their child happy again.

One of the most important aspects of the customer experience is empowering CX staff to know the customer and empathize with their journey. Brands that “put themselves into their customer’s shoes” are more likely to succeed. According to a Gallup poll, customers are nine times more likely to be engaged if they thought the customer service was empathetic to their journey.

Customer service lesson: Great customer service demonstrates empathy and understanding of the customer journey.

Summing up: Great customer experiences = great customer satisfaction.

By focusing on the customer and having a willingness to do what it takes to exceed their expectations, a company can generate tremendous word-of-mouth exposure from customers who ultimately become their loyal brand advocates.

Companies that do well in customer satisfaction (Costco, Amazon, Apple, and Disney, to name a few) know the trick to great customer service is simple: Always put the customer first, put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and treat people with the highest level of care and respect your teams can muster.

 

This post was originally published in May 2015, and has since been updated.

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