When customer service stories go viral, they’re usually cringeworthy. But here and there, you’ll find a welcome exception. The best customer service moments aren’t as provocative as PR disasters, and they don’t get as much press, but they help to restore our collective faith and remind us what great service is all about.
This week, we wanted to share 10 of the best customer service moments of 2017. The brand representatives who made these moments happen share something important in common: they’re sincerely invested in making customers’ lives better. And in their own unique ways, they’ve raised the bar for customer service delivery.
1. FedEx Comes Through in a Crisis
As Hurricane Irma approached Florida, an Orlando resident hoped the generator he’d previously ordered would make it to his home before the storm closed in. He even paid extra to have the generator delivered overnight. When the generator didn’t arrive, he called FedEx customer service and was told FedEx had suspended operations in the area.
To the customer’s great surprise, right before the storm hit, a FedEx employee showed up in his personal vehicle and delivered the generator—one of several he was delivering to customers in the area. This simple, selfless act by a lone employee cast FedEx in a whole new light.
2. Marriott Brings Comfort and Joy
A mother who was preparing to help her child settle in at George Washington University shared her sadness on Twitter: “If you see me around town this weekend crying like a baby, it’s because I am dropping my oldest off at @GWTweets.” After Washington Marriott Georgetown’s social media team got wind of the tweet, they reached out to the distraught mom. During her stay, they sent a variety of comforting gifts and treats and a handwritten note to her room.
As the mom later blogged, these thoughtful, above-and-beyond gestures helped make the family’s transition less painful and the mom’s stay more memorable.
3. Maui Jim Makes a Lasting Impression
A Maui Jim customer recently emailed the company to express his sincere appreciation for an outstanding customer service experience.
When he called to inquire about a broken part on a five-year-old pair of sunglasses, the customer spoke with a helpful agent who displayed “patience, empathy, a positive approach all around, and extensive knowledge of the return/repair process.” The online return form made clear what to do and expect. Maui Jim alerted the customer when his shipment was received and when his newly repaired glasses would arrive. The customer also received a new case for free, along with an agent’s name and direct extension in case he had additional questions or concerns.
The customer closed his email with this: “It is obvious that Maui Jim’s management has placed the customer first in your corporate culture. For this, you have earned a customer for life!
4. Ritz-Carlton Refuses to Give Up
A family staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali panicked when they realized the specialized eggs and milk they traveled with (due to a child’s severe food allergies) didn’t survive the trip to the hotel. When a frantic local search by the hotel manager and staff led nowhere, the hotel’s executive chef sprang into action. Knowing these items were available in Singapore—over 1,000 miles away—the chef contacted his mother-in-law, who happened to live there, and asked her to fly to Bali with the eggs and milk. She did so without delay.
By tackling the problem with a shared sense of urgency—and not resting until a solution was found—this Ritz-Carlton family (and extended family) took customer service to a whole new level.
5. Southwest Goes All Out for Passenger’s Birthday
With 30 minutes to go on a Southwest flight from Nashville to San Diego, a flight attendant announced a passenger’s 11th birthday. To the great surprise of the girl and her parents, this wasn’t the only thing the crew members had in store. Passengers were asked to press the notification lights above their seats (in other words, light the candles), which they did after the cabin lights went dim. Passengers and crew members sang “Happy Birthday,” left notification lights on while the girl made a wish, and then blew out the candles, so to speak.
According to the girl’s mother, everyone on board was smiling when the plane landed. After recounting the experience, she added, “The next time you’re feeling out of creative ideas to enhance the customer experience, look around you and work with what you have. A little goes a long, long way.”
6. United Airlines Eases a Family’s Burden
A father seeing his daughter off at the airport believed her suitcase weighed more than 50 pounds. The airport scale proved him right: the suitcase was 8.5 pounds over United Airlines’ limit for checked baggage. To make matters worse, the daughter’s flight would begin boarding in five minutes.
The father and daughter wondered aloud what to do. Which items should she leave behind? The discussion grew tense, as they couldn’t agree on anything.
A United Airlines employee saw the father and daughter’s distress and stepped in. “We’ll make it work,” she said. She pointed to a couple items the daughter could carry in her carry-on bag, and the daughter decided to unpack her winter coat and wear it on the plane. The new arrangement brought the suitcase weight down to 49.8 pounds, and the only thing the daughter had to leave behind was a bottle of soap.
The father summed up the experience this way: “Travel can be stressful. This agent gave us a lesson in weight and kindness and served it up with a smile. Little things really do matter.”
7. Walmart Responds With Compassion
A registered nurse and her husband were shopping in a Georgia Walmart when they encountered an elderly woman who had fallen ill and passed out. The nurse sprang into action to help the woman, as did Walmart staff members, who remained in constant contact with dispatch until transportation arrived. One employee, without saying a word, got down on the floor and remained seated so the woman could lean on him.
The nurse was moved by what she saw—particularly the employee offering physical support to the ailing woman, no questions asked. “The media lately shows our country divided, filled with hate and racial tension, but this right here was one human being [who] loved and [served] another without condition of race or obligation.”
8. Wendy’s Strikes a Chord
In April, a 17-year-old named Carter Wilkerson tweeted Wendy’s with a question: how many retweets would earn him a year’s supply of chicken nuggets? Wendy’s answer: 18 million. Within two weeks, the #NuggsForCarter campaign had caught fire—with a little help from the brand—and Carter had earned more than 3 million retweets.
Soon, the tweet would break Ellen DeGeneres’ record for the most retweets ever and result in a massive wave of news stories in major media outlets. Other brands and celebrities took notice of the campaign and jumped on the #NuggsForCarter bandwagon on Twitter.
Carter received his year’s supply of nuggets, and Wendy’s honored Carter’s achievement by donating $100,000 to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Carter is helping raise funds for the foundation as well. And it all started with a single response from Wendy’s and a commitment to help make one customer’s dream a reality.
9. XFINITY Gets Personal
When a longtime XFINITY customer called customer service to troubleshoot a problem, he wasn’t the least bit surprised when the agent answered all his questions to his satisfaction. The customer was so happy with the experience, he tweeted a simple “thank you” to the brand.
What surprised this customer was what came next. The agent who tweeted back appeared to have read the customer’s bio and, realizing he was a poet, responded with a Haiku.
This small touch had a big impact, even on this longtime brand loyalist. His reaction? “XFINITY not only provided the traditional troubleshooting-type of customer service, but they also provided the personalized fan-to-ambassador type of customer service that all companies would do well to focus a bit more on.”
10. Zappos Leaves Nothing to Chance
A newly married husband and wife were packing up to move. The husband put his wife’s most valuable jewelry in her new purse, which he then packed inside an empty Zappos box. As (bad) luck would have it, the wife had planned to return the new purse, in that very same box, to Zappos. Unaware that her jewelry lay hidden in the purse, she initiated a return shipment.
When the couple realized what had happened, the wife contacted Zappos in a panic. The agent she spoke with made sure the box was routed to his desk. However, fearing something might happen to the jewelry if he were to ship it back to the couple’s house, the rep boarded a plane and delivered the jewelry himself. The couple invited him in to have dinner with them.
And with that, Zappos welcomed two new lifelong customers.
Will Your Brand Make Our “Best Customer Service Moments” List in 2018?
Doing things customers expect—greeting them by name, for example, or resolving their issues on first contact—is important. But that’s not what distinguishes brands. Outstanding customer service is about caring deeply, listening carefully, and doing whatever it takes to meet customers’ needs and make them feel valued. Making that connection is easy to do if you have empowered, enthusiastic agents who love their jobs and live and breathe customer service.