To really excel at customer service, employees and managers need the space to be able to go above and beyond.

4 Examples of Customer Service That Leave a Mark

Customer Experience Customer Service

Powerful examples of customer service done right exist all around you — and their takeaways are just as important as learning from brands who made mistakes

We see examples of customer service gone wrong nearly every day, with unhappy buyers leaving bad reviews, lodging complaints, tagging brands on social media and letting their off- and online audiences know exactly what went sideways. While less common, you can also find powerful examples of customer service done right, and their takeaways are just as important as learning from brands who made mistakes.

1. Les Schwab and the Extra Mile

Les Schwab has mastered the art of viral marketing through customer stories, highlighting moments when their location managers leapt into action instead of seeking out company permission. By empowering Les Schwab employees to go the extra mile in customer service on and off company premises — as well as in and outside of operating hours — they have generated customer service stories which have become immortalized in YouTube and TV commercials. In one of these, a new mother talks about how a Les Schwab manager came to her rescue when her car broke down on the way home from the hospital with her new baby on board. With more than 7,500 views on YouTube alone, it’s a testament to the impact that a single employee who goes beyond the call of duty can have on brand affinity and perception.

The Takeaway: Employees shouldn’t have to ask whether it’s OK to do the right thing. Give the benefit of the doubt, make allowances and reward staff who turn into customer service heroes.

2. Lego and the Letter Back

You may have read stories about how people wrote letters to a company’s CEO and were then shocked when they actually replied, but the Lego company took this one step further. After receiving a letter from a young boy who had spent all his Christmas money on a Lego product but accidentally lost one of the most important pieces (a ninja), one of the company’s customer service representatives replied in a letter that’s now gone viral, garnering thousands of views, comments, and shares on media sites and social networks. The company not only replaced the lost piece, but sent a special edition version and its counterpart (the bad guy) along with a wonderful letter that was written with a ninja theme.

The Takeaway: It’s not the level of service customers expect that makes an impression, it’s what goes above the mark. When you have the chance and ability to do more than is expected, take it.

3. Holiday Inn and the Instant Fix

Most hoteliers are well aware of the impact a bad review left on TripAdvisor can have on their business. While the occasional bad review may be inevitable, the team at Holiday Inn Frederick Hotel and Conference Center apparently understands that it’s not what goes wrong, but how you respond, that can turn a bad review into a five-star one. One guest’s five-star review of the hotel notes that while they had some issues during their stay, “prompt and decisive action by Lisa Saylor was above and beyond the call of duty and was much appreciated,” and would ultimately result in repeat business from that guest.

The Takeaway: When staff recognize a problem and have the means to fix it, potentially damaging reviews can be unwritten before they have a chance to reflect badly on your business.

4. Morton’s Steakhouse and the Tweet Heard ‘Round the World

When author and angel investor Peter Shankman stepped onto a plane bound for Newark, New Jersey, he was hungry. Very, very hungry. Shankman tweeted Morton’s Steakhouse with a longing-but-hopeless request that they deliver a steak directly to the airport two hours later. When he disembarked the plane he found, to his surprise, that the steakhouse had not only responded, but cooked up a 24 oz. porterhouse and drove twenty-four miles to deliver it — along with colossal shrimp, sides and tableware — to the airport ahead of his arrival. Not only has the story made dozens of media outlets, Shankman’s 100,000-plus Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands more have heard the story repeated on social networks.

To earn media attention, you must capitalize on media-worthy opportunities. Don’t ask — jump. Sometimes it’s not the day-to-day service that defines public perception; it’s the exemplary customer service your company exhibits under unique circumstances. This type of response can only occur when deeply rooted in an employee culture where employees are trained to recognize such opportunities, empowered to solve problems creativity and recognized and rewarded for going the extra mile on the customer’s behalf.

Elizabeth Kraus
Elizabeth Kraus

Elizabeth Kraus is a freelance marketing consultant located in the greater Seattle area. Author of 365 Days of Marketing and 12 Months of Marketing for Salon and Spa, she publishes marketing calendars annually for local small business, salons, restaurants, realtors, and others.