I don’t think there’s a business out there that wants to admit they have poor customer service. In fact, many avoid this reality by pulling the blinds over their eyes.
But deceiving yourself into believing that you’re “WOWing” customers when you are doing little more than meeting their expectation does more harm than good.
Think about it this way.
You say that you have high customer satisfaction. But it’s simply not good enough to say that your customers are satisfied.
It’s your job to leave them delighted (or they’ll leave you altogether).
Here’s what your customers say…
Eighty percent of companies believe they deliver superior customer service. Meanwhile, only 8% of customers think these same companies deliver superior customer service.
That’s a pretty big difference.
But despite the discouraging statistics, there are companies that actually do go above and beyond. They’re building buzz by delighting customers day after day.
That, my friends, is superior customer service.
Take note of how these brands go the extra mile. There are plenty of ways you can apply their strategies to your business. As you’ll see, all industries have potential to achieve business success in the eyes of their customers.
From the beginning, Buffer has taken a proactive approach to customer service. Founder and co-founders Joel and Leo laid the foundation by sending handwritten notes and stickers to all of the company’s earliest customers.
Since that time, they’ve created a culture of appreciation and taught their team to sincerely care for customers too. Amidst new tactics, they still hold to the idea of sending notes.
I love how Nicole Miller, Customer Champion at Buffer, explains their process:
“Our customers are the true heart of all we do here at Buffer — and we want to make sure the community knows it. We work on this in lots of ways—from striving for excellent customer support to hosting meetups to sending hand-written notes, swag and special gifts.”
They’re WOWing customers, one piece of unexpected swag at a time.
Takeaway: Go the extra mile and put a personal touch on your interactions with customers. At the end of the day, it’s the least you can do. After all, without them you wouldn’t have a business.
2. Appliance Online
Sometimes, all it takes is one story from a satisfied customer to build buzz. In Andrew Tran’s case, he was dissatisfied with the product he ordered from Appliances Online. Here’s a quick excerpt from the story on his blog:
Thankfully, Tran called the seller, Appliance Online, for some help. The rest of the story gets a happy ending, as Appliance Online quickly responded and resolved the situation – much to Andrew’s satisfaction.
This company takes their customer service seriously. In fact, John Winning, CEO of Appliance Online, commented on his blog post:
If you visit their website, you’ll see even more evidence of their focus on customer service. Even their logo points to their commitment.
Takeaway: It’s one thing to say you have legendary service. Everyone wants to think that. But when you deliver on that promise, you’ll win customers for life.
StudioPress works hard to keep their customers happy. It’s obvious by the way they answer questions in their support forum. The managers there have over 60,000+ replies each, with most questions getting answered within a few minutes.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg…
What I love most about how StudioPress delights customers is the way they utilize content marketing to keep users updated and educated.
They learned that customer service isn’t just about answering questions live. It’s also about anticipating those questions and answering them before they get asked. As a result, the team has built a huge array of detailed tutorials and blog content that you can dig through without ever having to endure the hassle of asking a question in the first place.
(Because let’s be honest, no one likes asking questions. We just want the answers – and we want them now!)
Takeaway: Content marketing isn’t always about winning new customers. You can use it to keep current customers satisfied and happy with your product or service. Education wins!
Year after year, airline companies consistently rank the lowest across all industries when it comes to overall customer service.
When my luggage isn’t lost and my flight isn’t delayed, I can objectively understand that it’s a difficult industry. They’re flying so many people around the world. Coordinating the logistics of that is a nightmare, I’m sure.
Yet, despite the turbulence that hits this industry day after day, JetBlue consistently maintains a high level of customer satisfaction. It’s an impressive feat, to say the least.
One of the coolest aspects of JetBlue’s customer happiness culture is the company’s Chief People Officer. This person randomly joins flights and goes to airports with the sole purpose of surprising customers with fun rewards of all types.
These kinds of acts keep satisfaction high. And while other airlines compete by offering the lowest prices, JetBlue takes a different approach by focusing on what really matters: the customer experience.
Takeaway: In an industry focused on the race to the bottom, JetBlue charges a bit more while also offering a far superior service. In the end, people will pay more for better service.
5. CVS Pharmacy
For 30 years, CVS Pharmacy has been doing good deeds for customers all around the United States. Their fleet of CVS Samaritan Vans patrol highways in nine of the major U.S. cities.
The distinctive white vans help citizens in a variety of ways.
Eileen Howard Dunn, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations at CVS Caremark, says the following about this unique customer happiness program:
By working in cooperation with local transportation departments, metro traffic centers, law enforcement and other emergency responders, our highly trained CVS Samaritan Van drivers provide welcome roadside assistance and support. By helping to keep people safe on our nation’s highways, the CVS Samaritan Van program is part of our company’s vision to strive to improve the quality of human life.
The van drivers are licensed EMTs and ASE-certified in motor vehicle repair. As a result, they’re able to do various on-site repairs, administer medical help and summon police, tow trucks or rescue vehicles as necessary. And they do it all for free.
All they ask is that you fill out a comment card.
The company does it to spread their vision to the community. And they do a good job of building buzz that way. More than 7,000 thank you emails and letters are received each year from the people they assist.
Takeaway: Think outside the box for ways you can serve your customers. You don’t always need to be selling your product. Spread your vision and touch lives.
Once upon a time, the small team over at Wistia had a hard time keeping up with phone support. It was weighing them down and dropping their overall satisfaction rate.
As a result, they made the bold decision to remove their phone number from the website. This may seem counterintuitive, but it was the best thing the company could have done.
This forced the company to shift to supporting customers through personalized emails. The personalized support helps them build one-on-one relationships with customers, while gaining insight into what features of the tool remain unclear (insight which can later be used to improve their product further).
Now, the team uses Help Scout to scale their support and keep delivering a personalized experience with customers and new trial users.
Takeaway: Great customer service doesn’t always need to be classified as amazing. At the end of the day, most customers just want consistency and quality that can scale with them.
7. Campaign Monitor
Recently, Freshdesk conducted an interview with Matthew Peterson, the Head of Customer Service at Campaign Monitor, a Sydney-based company.
Each day, the support team, consisting of 25+ people, closes out 400+ tickets and responds to even more. That makes for a busy day, especially for a 24-hour support team of that size.
In the interview, Peterson reveals a lot about the company’s dedication to customer support, but one point stood out to me in particular:
Too many times, customer service teams look at problems as no more than a ticket number. That kind of mindset will never deliver the kind of support your customers need. And it certainly won’t leave them feeling delighted.
Campaign Monitor knows that. And they make it a point to make customers feel like the important, special people that they are.
Takeaway: You can’t send everyone that contacts you some swag or a handwritten note. But you can treat every single customer with the attention and respect they deserve.
It’s no secret in the customer service world that the folks at Ritz-Carlton know how to deliver.
The company charges premium prices. But every dollar is justified when you account for the outstanding customer experience you receive.
A story that appeared in BusinessWeek shows just how this company is willing to kick it up a notch with customer service.
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.
Of course the family was delighted. After an experience like that, do you think this particular family would even consider staying somewhere else?
If that’s the level of service you experience, would you ever consider staying anywhere else? The company doesn’t think you will. And that’s why they’re going above and beyond to build an emotional engagement with you during your stay.
Takeaway: Give employees the control and freedom to create an amazing customer experience. Let customers have the priority while rules, restrictions and regulations take a backseat.
In an industry that prides itself on automation, Rackspace takes a personal approach when it comes to their helpful service.
The company invests in what they call Fanatical Support. And it means something a bit different to each of the Rackers (employees at Rackspace).
One great example of this support in action comes in the form of a pizza. A Racker was on the phone offering customer support to a customer. As she explains it:
So I put them on hold, and I ordered them a pizza. About 30 minutes later we were still on the phone, and there was a knock on their door. I told them to go answer it because it was pizza! They were so excited.
I can only imagine the excitement that customer must have felt. It’s these kinds of small acts of kindness that truly raise your company’s support above the rest.
Takeaway: Find unique, creative ways to connect with your customer. Small tokens of your appreciation will go a long way in establishing a lasting connection.
If you’ve ever used AppSumo, you know the team over there is super friendly, helpful and responsive. They’re always willing to help you out or answer your questions.
And when it comes to the heart of customer service, I think that’s what it’s really all about.
What I like so much about AppSumo is the way they hold themselves accountable for their support quality. Project Happiness uses one-on-one conversations, surveys and polls to rate their daily happiness quality.
And if it’s suffering, they’re not afraid to own up to that.
Takeaway: Hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for your customer service. It’s easy to hide behind a delusion. It’s much harder to own up to your mistakes and make a public commitment to do better tomorrow – but it’s worth it.
What other brands do you know of that are building buzz by delighting customers? I’d love to hear about these awesome companies in the comments below!Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.