Who Are Your Customer Service Heroes?

by Cathy Miller on March 6, 2017

Do you remember the last time customer service made you smile?

You hear plenty of horror stories. I’ll bet you have more than a few of your own.

That’s why we applaud when customer service goes right. It’s like finally winning a game after so many misses.

Well, at least for a while.

I shared some of my lousy customer service experiences. Being the Pollyanna I am, I wanted to prove it’s not all bad.

Customer service heroes do exist.

Customer Service Heroes

For this post, I asked a few of my writer buddies for their examples of good customer service. They were happy to share their stories.

Thanks to Anne Wayman, Paula Hendrickson, and Sharon Hurley Hall for the help.

Heated Response

Picture yourself on a Caribbean island. Nice picture, isn’t it? But it can get a tad warm, especially for senior citizens.

A local auction company advised two seniors they would be able to accept their furniture between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. When the seniors arrived at 10:30 a.m., there was no one at the business. Sweltering in the sun, the seniors had to make other arrangements.

Another company responded to their call, confirmed they would be happy to take their furniture, and were there to help take the furniture off the seniors’ hands.

A Great Ring Tone

Anne believes Ting.com “…may have the best customer service in the world.” How’s that for high praise?

The cell phone service company proclaims – People  Ting – on their website. Anne sure does.

Recently, Anne purchased a used smartphone. It’s not her primary communication source so when she does use it, she often has questions.

Resolving Anne’s issues is Ting customer service’s primary concern. They clearly communicate that each time Anne calls.

  • No rush – Representatives address each of Anne’s questions – she never feels rushed through a call
  • Step-by-step instructions – Some have searched for an exact model of the smartphone’s old operating system so they can give Anne step-by-step- instructions
  • Follow-up – They even follow up when Anne needs to take a step on her own – just to make sure it worked out okay

See what happens when customer service cares about the caller’s experience?

Social Media Save

This next example may be more an illustration of the power of social media than good customer service.

After a significant increase in her cable bill, Paula contacted customer service. The representative transferred her to the Customer Loyalty Department.

Loyalty should count for something, right? Apparently, the representative who took the call did not understand the concept.

Her only solution was Paula moving to a lower tier for a better rate – regardless if that meant eliminating some of Paula’s favorite channels. Paula found that to be an unacceptable option. Most of us would.

Time for a Twitter rant. Responding to Paula’s Twitter complaint, the social media representative asked Paula to send a Direct Message with her account number.

Within 20 minutes, Paula received a discount of $10 per month for two years. Two years! Now, that’s how you value loyalty.

My Own Customer Service Hero

Doesn’t it seem like the bigger the company, the worse the customer service?

  • Who hasn’t been ignored by a giant tech company when you need help figuring out a problem?
  • How often do you need to make multiple follow-up calls because the representative did not do what he or she said they would?

I so love finding exceptions.

One large company stands out for me as the poster child for good customer service – Amazon.

Jeff Bezos probably wouldn’t like the analogy, but for me, Amazon is the Google of online shopping. Think about it.

  • What is the first thing you ask when someone wants to know something – Did you Google that?
  • What is your response when a person is trying to find a certain product – Did you check Amazon?

See what I mean? That’s a heavy responsibility.

Amazon simplifies returns and refunds – even with incidents beyond their control. The following is just one example.

  • My sister sent her son a Christmas gift
  • His third-floor house rental only has a mail slot for deliveries
  • The carrier left the box on the front porch

You guessed it. Thieves took the package. They were kind enough to leave the empty, destroyed Amazon box next to my nephew’s vehicle. Talk about rubbing it in your face.

After contacting Amazon, customer service helped connect her with the post office and refunded my sister’s payment. Unfortunately, the unique gift was not recovered but at least she appreciated the caring response.

I’m sure Amazon customer service has horror stories (like its Amazon Logistics delivery service). However, when you have a history of shipping 608 million packages in the U.S. alone, you are bound to hit a bump or two.

Traits of Customer Service Heroes

Customer service is not rocket science. Yet so many companies complicate the service.

The above examples illustrate simple traits that lead to better customer service.

  1. Good customer service listens.
  2. They put customers first.
  3. The company honors commitments.

Simple,right?

Who are you customer service heroes? Share your stories in Comments.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA March 6, 2017 at 6:30 am

I agree that we all want- and deserve- good customer service. My experience at Amazon is slightly different- but that’s probably because Amazon sells stuff that OTHER vendors (Underwater Audio, in this case) provide. And, right now, I am typing away with a dead “waterproof” MP3 player. It’s the third one. Each time, I have to pay to return it- and include insurance (or they won’t replace it). So, my device – that still does not accompany me as I swim lap after lap- has costs me twice as much as budgeted, and is simply a brick.
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Cathy Miller March 6, 2017 at 7:28 am

I had a feeling someone would share a bad customer service experience with Amazon. The odds were against it all being good. 🙂 Sorry it was you with the less than stellar performance, Roy.
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John Soares March 6, 2017 at 8:35 am

Good customer service starts with a company dedicated to good customer service. But it’s more than that: they have to train their employees to actually deliver.
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Cathy Miller March 6, 2017 at 9:10 am

You are so right, John. And that’s where I see most companies fall down. Not only a lack of training but a lack of empowerment (pardon the cliché) to take the action they need to resolve the issue.
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Anne Wayman March 6, 2017 at 8:40 am

After I wrote about Ting, I found another company that does a stellar job with CS – Chewy.com. They sell pet food. Recently one of my cats developed a urinary blockage and once healed up he needs special food. Chewy has been so great helping me get the prescription to them, and making sure Toulouse and I have what he needs. Then they went above and beyond.

In addition to food I ordered treats for the cats that meet Toulouse’s dietary needs. Only apparently I ticked the box for dogs, not cats! I called to see how to handle that. They said it was probably their fault – I’m pretty sure it wasn’t – and that I should keep the dog treats and donate them and they shipped the cat treats right away.

I love that company too!

And you know what, Cathy, you’re absolutely right. This level of service is not rocket science. You simply empower your people to make decisions, train them to make the right decisions and you’re on your way. Can’t imagine why more companies don’t do this!

Costco and Trader Joe’s are also examples of good to great customer service.

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Cathy Miller March 6, 2017 at 9:11 am

Thanks for so many great stories, Anne. Don’t know how I forgot about Trader Joe’s – except I wish you could order some of their items online for shipping. 🙂
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Paula Hendrickson March 6, 2017 at 8:56 am

Wouldn’t you know it, Cathy — I used both of the “Did you Google it?” and “Have you checked Amazon?” responses yesterday when a friend asked price of 18″ pillow forms. (She knew I bought a bunch last year.)

I have an update on my cable situation. When my next bill arrived another discount had expired. I Direct Tweeted the company and within minutes they were able to give me a promotional rate only about $6 more than I’d been paying before. I will have to enroll in automatic payments (which I hate) to get the full discount…and to save the extra $5/month I’ll find a way to make it work.

Anne, I LOVE Chewy.com, too! A friend of mine decided to give them a try recently, and told me she’ll be sticking with them, too. (Probably the first time that particular friend didn’t dismiss my recommendation the minute I made in.)

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Cathy Miller March 6, 2017 at 9:13 am

I am glad to see your Cable company is finally rewarding your loyalty, Paula. And thanks for the update.
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Paula Hendrickson March 6, 2017 at 9:18 am

Don’t get me wrong, they’re still way too expensive considering they removed some channels before raising the rates, but I always tell them if they can keep my cable bill under $100/mos without any further reduction of services, I won’t cut the cord. If/when that’s no longer the case…buh-bye.
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Cathy Miller March 6, 2017 at 9:21 am

And surprisingly (or not), there are plenty of companies with customer service that would allow that to happen.
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Sharon Hurley Hall March 6, 2017 at 9:06 am

So inspiring to hear stories of good service, Cathy. 🙂

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Cathy Miller March 6, 2017 at 9:14 am

I agree, Sharon. Maybe we should make it a regular feature as we often forget to publicly acknowledge the good ones (we don’t seem to have that problem with the bad). 😉
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Anne Wayman March 6, 2017 at 9:24 am

I really like this idea. When I get good cs, I ask the rep if they want me to tell their supervisor they’ve done a good job… I love their reaction and I also complement the supervisor for the job they’re doing. It’s my theory that if I want more of good cs, complements are one easy way to get it.

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Paula Hendrickson March 6, 2017 at 9:43 am

In December I wrote an actual letter to the big boss at my phone company to follow up on a series of technical issues that took 8-months to resolve. (The only reason they ever got solved is because after I’d exhausted every official channel and gotten no response from their customer service team I escalated matters directly to their bosses’ bosses’ boss.) Once someone from the executive offices was assigned to my case, it still took months to get everything working properly, but they did it.

My follow up letter had to purposes: First, to acknowledge and thank by name the people who’s gone above and beyond to help me—and suggesting they all get hefty year-end bonuses for retaining a long-time customer like me. And second, to point out the many glaring errors and roadblocks I discovered within their customer service protocols, and I offered suggestions on ways they could improve things. That exec never responded, but a week or so later my main contact called to say the exec had received my letter. She asked what she could help with now, but seemed stunned when I said it wasn’t a complaint letter, and that I’d suggested she and her colleagues get a bonus for assisting me.
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