10 Examples of Shockingly-Excellent Customer Service

By Glen Stansberry on 23 May 2010 (Updated 23 June 2010) 13 comments
Photo: Yuri Arcurs

Excellent customer service has kind of become a thing of the past. We consumers have grown accustomed to outsourced customer service departments and faceless, electronic "help." (I recently had to call my bank and tax software companies in the same day, and I've never heard more muzak in my entire life. Ugh.)

It always gives me a bit of hope when a company actually goes above and beyond the call of duty and provides excellent customer support. Here are a few recent examples of companies that have decided to put consumers first.

1. Trader Joe's Braves a Winter Storm For an Elderly Customer

An 89-year old Pennsylvanian was snowed in around the holidays, and his daughter was concerned he wasn't going to have enough food to last the inclement weather. The daughter called multiple stores trying to find someone who would deliver, and finally learned that Trader Joe's doesn't normally deliver, but they would in this special instance. They took the order, and also suggested other items that might fit the elderly man's special low-sodium diet.

After the daughter ordered around $50 worth of food to be delivered, the Trader Joe's employee told her that she didn't need to pay for it, and to have a Merry Christmas.

The food was delivered within 30 minutes of the phone call, and the Holidays were saved for one elderly man and his family.

Source: Reddit

2. Free Tickets From the Jet Blue People Officer

If you fly Jet Blue, you might just run into the mystical People Officer. One such passenger reports of the People Officer standing up mid-flight and announced that he had free tickets to give away to anywhere that the airline company flew. The man played trivia games, and handed out tickets to anyone who knew the answers. In all, around a dozen free tickets were handed out during the mid-flight games.

The Jet Blue employee then went on to ask if anyone had any suggestions or concerns with Jet Blue, and answered questions about upcoming possible promotions. Think he made any life-long Jet Blue customers from that one plane ride?

3. United Airlines Saves Your Seat, Books a Flight

New York Times best-selling author Steven Levitt wrote an article about how United Airlines turned him into a customer for life in a couple ways. Steven was running late, and unlike other airlines, they actually saved his seat until the last second. On another occasion, United Airlines called him and informed him that his flight was delayed by a few hours, and they saw that he was in the airport. The call went like this:

“I see that you’re at the airport and your flight is delayed a few hours. A seat opened up on an earlier flight, so I grabbed it for you in case you wanted it. It leaves in forty minutes, so you’ll have to hurry.”

These two events, Levitt explains, turned him into a life-long customer of United Airlines.

4. Starbucks Wants You to Have an Experience "Nothing Short of Fantastic"

Disgruntled Starbucks customer Jason called in to the company's corporate offices after a mixup with a New Jersey branch's barista. Instead of simply giving him a refund, the customer service representative told Jason that they needed to "make him whole, and give him an experience nothing short of fantastic." They promptly filled his rewards card with $50 of store credit.

Source: Consumerist

5. Chik-Fil-A for Seatbelted Drivers

The South Carolina highway patrol started a program with Chik-Fil-A last November that rewarded drivers wearing seatbelts with Chik-Fil-A coupons during traffic violation stops and roadblock checks. While highway patrolmen aren't known for their "customer service," this is an interesting and fun way to reward good drivers.

Source: Slashfood

6. CVS "Samaritan Vans"

Did you know that CVS has been patrolling the streets and highways for the past 30 years, looking to help stranded motorists? The Consumerist has a story of a woman stranded on a busy highway with a flat tire, and a CVS Good Samaritan van rolled up five minutes later and helped change her tire. The cost for the service? Only her sending in a comment card to CVS.

7. Airport Fast Park

The Airport Fast Park at the Baltimore Washington International Airport is a little different than other "park-n-ride" airport shuttles. When you enter their lot, an attendant greets you and shows you the best row to park your car so you don't have to search for an open space. The shuttle meets you at your parked car so there's no waiting at a shelter. Then the bus driver helps you with your luggage, and if it's raining meets you with an umbrella.

While on the bus, the friendly driver actually talks to you, and on your way back the shuttle takes you directly to your car, with a complimentary bottle of water.

Who knew bus rides could be enjoyable?

Source: Simple Complexity

8. Ritz-Carlton Goes Above and Beyond

You'd expect a luxury hotel to have excellent customer service, but this Business Week story goes well above the expected.

"One family staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, had carried specialized eggs and milk for their son who suffered from food allergies. Upon arrival, they saw that the eggs had broken and the milk had soured. The Ritz-Carlton manager and dining staff searched the town but could not find the appropriate items. But the executive chef at this particular resort remembered a store in Singapore that sold them. He contacted his mother-in-law, and asked that she buy the products and fly to Bali to deliver them, which she agreed to do."

9. Pearl, the Pompon-Waving Arby's Employee

Pearl Weaver is an 89-year old Arby's employee from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Her job? To make people smile.

When any customer comes to the counter to order food, Pearl greets them with a pleasant "Hi everybody, welcome to Arby's" and waves her blue and white pompon. She's mentioned weekly in customer satisfaction surveys, calls to Arby's corporate offices, and she's won award after award for her customer service.

In an industry where customer service isn't always a high priority, Pearl and her pompon are a breath of fresh air.

Source: PennLive.com

10. Schering-Plough Pays for Poison Control Calls

It's not often that you hear goodwill towards a drug company, but one woman and her puppy had a pleasant surprise when calling the ASPCA poison hotline. Her dog had eaten seven Claritin tablets, and it was uncertain whether or not the puppy was in danger.

After dialing the hotline, the operator informed the distressed owner that the call would cost $65 to speak to a professional. But when the operator learned that a Schering-Plough product was the harmful substance, she informed the concerned dog owner that the drug company pays for the calls on any of their products.

The dog is now doing great, thanks to the generosity of the drug company.

Source: Consumerist

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Guest's picture
skywind

Chick-Fil-A will also give free food to elementary and middle school kids who bring in a good report card.

Guest's picture
Guest

That experience at Airport Fast Park is the rule, not the exception. Check their web site for discount coupons.

Guest's picture

My mother was going in for eye surgery to get a lens replacement and was understandably nervous. The day before we stopped at Trader Joe's for a few things. As mom was writing out her check, she mentioned to the cashier to please be patient she was having a hard time seeing but was going in for surgery in the morning for it. The cashier smiled and said not to worry about it, then asked my mom's favorite color. The question took mom aback a bit (me too), but she said red. As we gathered our bags, the cashier returned with a dozen red roses and gave them to my mom with best wishes for her surgery.

Guest's picture

I love hearing about these kinds of stories. Although it may seem insignificant in the scheme of things, it's great to have a reason to give certain companies your business.

Guest's picture

Trader Joe's consistently goes above and beyond regarding customer service. I am customer of theirs for life.

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

You have to include the infamous Zappos story here! After a night out on the town, a customer was hungry for pizza but didn't know his way around town. So he called up Zappos, mentioned he was a customer, and the rep gave him a list of places that were open in his area that delivered.

Nice!

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I've had similar experiences with The Parking Spot airport parking, with the exception of the umbrella if it's raining. If you arrive to park in the morning, they will give you a free USA Today. And, for a while, they also gave out a little bag of cookies along with the (cold) bottle of water when you exited.

Guest's picture
Guest

I work for CVS and have never heard of the "Samaritan Van".
While I can see how these vans can provide a valuable service, they seem more "good publicity" than "excellent customer service"

Guest's picture
Brian

Great stories! "Do a good deed daily" isn't just for the Boy Scouts. Its something everyone should try to incorporate into their lives.

Guest's picture
Guest

Personally I don't want to be talked to while on the bus but a smile and help with my luggage a little hi how are you? That's all that's needed for me. Sometimes I just want to stare off into the distance and not be talked to.

Guest's picture
Shel

Consideration must also be given to the sales people. More than ever, customers go ballistic over the tiniest of errors. I can imagine "Jason's mix up" complaint regarding his Starbuck's coffee. Maybe the barrista didn't add enough whipped cream? Gracious, get a life! Just ask the barrista for more (or less) and he or she will be most happy to do it for you! My wife and consistently treat retailers with the respect they deserve as humans, and we are almost always treated the same. Our local Starbuck's consistently meets the highest standards we could ever think of, and even when we took a month off from going to that store, upon our return, the barrista remembered my specially-concocted drink (which I myself had forgotten). What is that worth?

Guest's picture
/b

The kind of crap described at the Arby's is exactly the kind of thing that would cause me to never enter that place of business again.

Guest's picture
Miss Mary

I love Pearl from Arby's!