10 Legendary Customer Service Examples to Inspire You

GrooveHQ
Share article:

An inspiring list of amazing customer service examples.

Here’s the problem: it seems we only ever hear the negative stories about customer service.

If you work in customer service, you know that for every customer service nightmare you see in the news, there are hundreds (maybe thousands?) of positive customer service stories.

They just don’t get as much press.

For that reason, we’ve collected 10 of the most inspiring customer service examples we could find.

Hopefully, this is an article you can share with your team to inspire them—especially if they’ve had a rough day or have been working long hours lately.

Fair warning. Several of these made our eyes a little misty.

You might want a box of tissues for this one.

Story #1. Chewy makes a mistake, then totally redeems itself

Jenny Dempsey knows excellent customer service when she sees it.

Even when it starts with a mistake.

Jenny is a speaker, blogger, customer service manager, and certified health coach, specializing in self-care for busy customer service agents and leaders.

She’s also an animal lover—one who made a mistake many of us can empathize with:

She was going on vacation.

And she forgot to change her cat food auto-ship from Chewy.com.

“The initial thing was my mistake,” Jenny told us when we talked to her recently. “I went to their website to change the date, but I wasn’t within the range of time where they could actually change the shipping.”

Jenny reached out to support and exchanged messages with an agent who promised they could stop the shipment.

But… that was a mistake.

A day later, Jenny received an automated email that delivery was on its way. By then, she was already traveling.

This is one of those moments—the kind that sometimes cause customers to lose faith in a company and take their business elsewhere. (According to one Oracle survey, 89% of consumers will begin doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.)

That’s when a second agent stepped in and saved the day.

“I reached out to them again and talked to a second agent,” Jenny said. “He looked at the problem and was honest about what he could do.”

He didn’t know why the first agent had promised to cancel the order.

“But here’s what I can do,” he told her. “I’ll credit you back the cost of the order so you can keep the delivery for free.”

Problem solved.

Customer saved.

“I thought that was awesome,” Jenny said. “Even though they messed up when I first reached out to them, it was my fault that I didn’t change the order earlier than I did. But they did the best they could for me in that situation.”

Takeaway: Even after a mistake, most customer issues can still be resolved through prompt, professional customer service.

Story #2. Traveler shocked by steak delivery at the airport

This story is eight years old now, but it’s still one of the best stories out there about customer service.

Like Jenny’s story above, it’s about traveling.

Peter Shankman is an author, entrepreneur, and corporate keynote speaker. As you might imagine with a job description like that, he travels a lot.

Here’s the story he told on his blog retelling the event:

“I was catching a 7 a.m. flight out of Newark to Tampa, Florida, for a lunch meeting in Clearwater, then heading back to Newark on a 5pm flight, getting me in around 8:10pm, and with any luck, to my apartment by 9 or so. We all have days like that, they happen from time to time.”

His meetings went well, and he was back to Tampa by 4 p.m. for his flight home. “When I got on the plane, my stomach was rumbling a bit, and I had visions of a steak in my head,” he wrote.

As Peter was boarding the plane in Tampa, he “jokingly” tweeted at Morton’s Steakhouse:

“Let’s understand: I was joking,” Peter wrote. “I had absolutely no expectations of anything from that Tweet. It’s like how we Tweet ‘Dear Winter, please stop, love Peter,’ or something similar.”

Two and a half hours later at Newark Airport, this happened:

That’s a man in a tuxedo holding a bag of food from Morton’s Steakhouse.

“Alex from Morton’s Hackensack walks up to me, introduces himself, and hands me a bag. He proceeds to tell me that he’d heard I was hungry, and inside is a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous round things of bread, two napkins, and silverware.”

Twitter, of course, went crazy:

And here we are, over eight years later, still talking about the story.

Takeaway: Customer service teams can create magical moments for customers—experiences potentially worth far more to your business than any advertising campaign.

Story #3: Lego wows 7-year old who lost his figurine on a shopping trip

Here’s another story that will still restore your faith in humanity.

In 2013, 7-year old Luka Apps of Highworth, Wiltshire, lost a new Lego figurine when it fell out of his coat pocket.

He was so upset about it, he wrote a letter to Lego explaining his situation.

And…

A hero named Richard from Lego Consumer Services wrote him back.

Phew!

Excuse me a second while I wipe my eyes after that one.

Within a week, the enveloped arrived.

If that doesn’t restore your faith in humanity, I don’t know what will.

Takeaway: The best agents respond with compassion for the emotions a customer is feeling, not just the details of their situation.

Story #4: United Airlines helps a passenger deliver his last goodbye

You know what class of businesses don’t usually make it on lists like these?

Airlines.

Especially the airlines we sometimes call “legacy” airlines. And yet…

Here’s a story from United Airlines that warmed our hearts and shows (again) the impact compassion can have on your customers.

On the morning of January 24, 2013, Kerry Drake learned that his mother was dying after years of illness.

Kerry—who lived in San Francisco—hurried to book flights to Lubbock, Texas, to be with his mother one last time.

His itinerary was tight, with only a 40-minute layover in Houston before his connecting flight to Lubbock.

When his first flight was delayed, he assumed he would miss his connecting flight to Lubbock, which was the last one of the day.

He broke down in tears in his seat on the airplane, obviously distraught.

Flight attendants did what they could for him and said they would let the pilot know was happening.

From there, dozens of people pulled together to help.

The pilot radioed ahead to Houston, letting them know of Kerry’s situation.

Word made it to the crew of the Houston to Lubbock flight, who decided together to delay their flight until Kerry made it onboard.

Even the ground crew was alerted, and they made sure Kerry’s luggage made it to the second flight as well.

As Kerry ran through the terminal to catch his connecting flight, he heard his name over the PA system.

“Mr. Drake, we’ve been expecting you.”

Kerry made it to Lubbock and spent the night with his mother, who died the next morning.

“Had I missed my United Airlines flight to Lubbock, I would not have been able to tell my mom goodbye,” Drake said. “When she died, I realized I was wiping away my tears with the extra United Airlines napkins that Sofia (his flight attendant) had given me the day before.”

Good job United.

Takeaway: If you want to be a truly customer-centric company, there will be times when you’ll need to sacrifice metrics (ex: on-time departure) to do what’s best for the customer.

Story #5: A custom Spotify playlist shows the power of a simple gesture

How much effort does it take to convert a customer into “raving fan for life.”

In Spotify’s case, the answer is: One custom playlist.

This story started with a simple Twitter question from Sophia Skinbjerg, a paying user of Spotify.

Spotify responded quickly with a follow-up question. A little while later, it responded again with a note that the problem had been resolved after they made “a few tweaks backstage.”

End of story, right?

Wrong.

Sophia seemed impressed by Spotify’s follow-up and communication and expressed her appreciation.

To which Spotify responded again with this:

Which led to a custom playlist they’d created just for her. If you read the song titles in order, you get:

Hey Sophia. You are the best thing. We love you more. Have a nice day with wonderful things, friends, smiles, and laughter lines.

To which Sophia responded:

Nicely played Spotify. 🙂

Takeaway: Sometimes a simple support request can create an opportunity to wow a customer, converting them from a customer into a raving fan and brand advocate for your company.

Story #6: Trader Joe’s delivers groceries in a snowstorm—well before delivery was a thing

Long before grocery delivery was a thing, a Trader Joe’s in Wayne, Pennsylvania, came to the rescue to help an 89-year old man stuck in his apartment during a snowstorm.

The team at Trader Joe’s, which didn’t have a delivery service nine years ago when this story happened, jumped into action.

The man’s granddaughter told the story in a post that went viral on Reddit:

Takeaway: Every company gets support requests for issues well outside their normal product offerings. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. Other times, it’s an opportunity for a creative solution to solve a customer’s problem.

Story #7: Ritz-Carlton hosts Thomas the Tank Engine for an extra day

Here’s another one that pulled at my heartstrings.

In 2015, a couple with a two-year son old spent a weekend at a Ritz-Carlton resort near Tucson, Arizona.

As they were packing for the airport, they realized they had lost the boy’s favorite Thomas the Tank Engine toy.

The mom found two Ritz-Carlton employees to explain the situation.

The employees did their best to help find the lost toy, but it was nowhere to be found.

So, after the guests left for the airport, the two employees drove to a local toy store and purchased another Thomas the Tank Engine toy, “a dead ringer of the original train.”

They then composed a letter in the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine about his extended vacation after being accidentally left behind.

They took pictures of Thomas around the resort to include as well, then packaged up the toy, the letter, and the pictures and shipped them off to the family.

Four days later, Thomas arrived to the delight of the family and the boy.

“The Ritz has earned our business for years to come!” the family wrote on Facebook when sharing the story.

Takeaway: Ritz-Carlton famously empowers employees to spend up to $2,000 per guest to solve customer issues. But it rarely takes a $2k investment to delight a customer. In this case, it took less than $50 (shipping included) and a trip to the toy store.

Story #8: Train passenger leaves glasses behind; Warby Parker executive responds

Sometimes, senior executives spend a lot of time talking about customer service, but not very much time actually delivering it.

No so in this story.

On the train from New York City to Boston, Michael John Mathis accidentally left behind his Warby Parker glasses.

Annoyed, he ordered an identical pair the next day, which set in motion the events that happened next.

He didn’t know it, but he had been sitting across from Anjali Kumar, general counsel and head of social innovation at Warby Parker, during his trade ride the previous day.

Anjali found Michael’s identical glasses order in Warber Parker’s database and put two and two together.

The story went viral, including a writeup in Forbes.

Notice again the reaction of the customer:

“I am so impressed! What a remarkable person and company. They have a customer for life!”

Its phrase that’s been mentioned multiple times in this article. 🙂

Takeaway: Customer service isn’t just a function of the formal customer service team. Everyone your company should be focused on delighting customers.

Story #9: Amazon and the stolen PlayStation

“Porch pirates” is a term we’ve all become familiar with now that we’re fully in the age of Amazon.

Joe Nocera is a former staff and op-ed writer at The New York Times. He’s also a father, and a few years ago he ordered a brand new PlayStation from Amazon for one of his sons.

It was meant to be a Christmas present.

“It wasn’t just any present either,” Joe wrote in an article in the Times telling the story. “It was a PlayStation 3, a $500 item, and a gift, I happened to know from my sources, that he was hoping for.”

On Friday, December 21, Joe woke with the realization that the PlayStation hadn’t been delivered yet.

He checked Amazon to track the shipping and saw that the PlayStation had been delivered. It had been signed for a neighbor in his apartment building.

He knocked on his neighbor’s door and asked if she had the package, but she said she’d left it in the hall.

“Now I was nearly distraught,” Joe wrote. “In all likelihood, the reason I hadn’t seen the package earlier in the week is because it had been stolen, probably by someone delivering something else to the building. Even if that wasn’t the case, the one thing I knew for sure was that it was gone—for which I could hardly blame Amazon.”

He called Amazon anyway to see what they might be willing to do.

And was stunned when the Amazon rep sent out a replacement almost immediately.

“The Amazon guy didn’t blink,” Joe wrote. “After assuring himself that I had never actually touched or seen the PlayStation, he had a replacement on the way before the day was out. It arrived on Christmas Eve. Amazon didn’t even charge me for the shipping. My son was very happy. So, of course, was I.”

Takeaway: It’s true that bad customer service stories are more likely to be shared by customers than good ones. But great customer service stories make the rounds too. This one earned Amazon a free, dedicated story in The New York Times.

Story #10: Our very own Dustin goes viral in our Slack channel

This man with the dog is Dustin Jensen. He’s one is one of our customer support reps here at Groove.

He has no idea I’m writing about him in this blog. He’s going to be embarrassed when he sees it. And I’m not sorry at all.

Dustin is one of our newer hires, but you wouldn’t know it from watching him interact with customers.

He consistently resolves customer issues with grace, professionalism, and even humor.

Just look at his response from a recent customer question, which Alex (our founder and CEO) saw and then posted to our #awesome channel in Slack:

Now…

Is this going to hit the front page of Reddit or go viral on Twitter?

No.

But this is the kind of response that turns everyday customers into advocates and fans of your brand.

It’s the bread and butter of customer service (if you will forgive the cliche). In it, Dustin:

  1. Takes responsibility
  2. Apologizes
  3. Is honest about what Groove can (and can’t) do
  4. Gives a clear, detailed response
  5. Uses visuals to guide the customer
  6. Includes a custom video illustrating the steps of the solution

This kind of response, executed dozens of times a day, is what makes excellent customer service reps, well… excellent.

Here’s what the customer had to say:

Sorry for embarrassing you Dustin.

But not that sorry. 🙂

Takeaway: Sometimes customers will ask for things your product isn’t really designed to do. Even then, it’s possible to respond in a way that demonstrates your commitment to the customer.

What to do after reading examples of good customer service

Stories like the ones in this article find their way into the news from time to time. They end up on Ellen or The Today Show or the local news.

When you see a story that inspires you, share it! Send it along to teammates, your boss, or your CEO.

Remind them that most customer service reps are quiet heroes — people who devote their careers to helping customers succeed.

Even if they don’t often end up in the news. 🙂

Nathan Collier
Nathan Collier Nathan is a content marketer at Groove. He’s a former journalist who’s one part storyteller and one part data geek. His talents include writing, data analysis, automation, and the telling of really awful dad jokes.