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5 Real-Life Lessons On Customer Support

Kate William

30 September 2020

9 min read

Customer support is the hallmark of a great company. Too often, companies will sell the product or service and think their job is done. What makes companies successful, though, is not one sale. It is building loyal customers who act as great marketers for your company. Companies need to make sure that they are providing a great customer experience. It is an investment that’ll pay off well in the long term. 

There’s really no shortage of studies that show that customer support makes you money. According to a study by American Express, customers spend 17% more on businesses that ensure good customer support. Great customer journeys also earn your loyalty and trust. Hubspot finds that a shocking 93% of customers make repeat purchases from companies that provide great customer support. The jury is pretty clear on this – customer support is great for business. 

Great brands have known this secret for a long time. There are plenty of examples of great customer support all around us. There is a lot to learn from brands that offer excellent customer experiences. That is why we’ve picked out five of the best customer support examples that you can learn from.  

5 Real-Life Examples of Great Customer Support

The brands that get good customer feedback are the ones that care. And caring is both good for your customers and good for business. In the examples that follow, companies have gone a step further to ensure great customer experiences. They have then been rewarded with loyal customers and even media attention. 

By making customer support an important part of your business practice, you are investing in a positive impact in the future. And it often doesn’t take a lot of resources. It’s all about caring. 

1. Zappos’ Takes Bonding With Customers To New Heights

The standard customer service experience is known to all of us. You get through an automated routing service and then wait. Maybe they try to entertain you with some instrumental music. At some point, a call-center employee picks up your call. Then, after waiting for so long, the person at the other end speaks so quickly you can’t understand them. You get angry and frustrated. That’s bad customer support. 

At Zappos, the culture is the absolute opposite. The brand ensures that customers are satisfied, even if that means that customer care gets through fewer calls than they would if they rushed. In one instance, Steven Weinstein, an employee at Zappos, spoke to a customer for a record 10 hours and 43 minutes with a caller!

The customer support issue for the caller was resolved soon. But Steven and the caller developed such a bond that they kept talking about other things. Steven said, 

After we had placed the order, the business part was over, and then the connection just got even stronger. We talked about everything from vacations to restaurants, to places we’ve been to. See, that’s the coolest thing about Zappos, you can talk to the customers, and the customers become your friends.

The next part is the most important. In her customer feedback, the caller said, ‘I’ve never been treated like this by any company, anywhere, ever before.’ The customer left with a great impression of Steven, and by extension, of Zappos. And this is only one example. Zappos also makes sure to reply to every customer email it receives. That’s great customer support. 

Lesson #1: Make Customers Feel like They’re Worth Your Time 

When I deal with customer support, it’s often just a stressful experience. The customer support executive is just rushing through their end of the script. I often have to ask the call centre executive to repeat what they’re saying, and we’re both getting frustrated. 

For most companies, I’m just a customer who’s taking up too much time. There’s a long line, and I need to resolve my issue as quickly as possible. This leads to bad customer experiences. Its because I’m just being treated as a statistic. The lesser time they spend on me, the lesser it costs to support me as a customer. But it ends up making me feel disgusted. 

A customer support call that treats you with respect goes a long way in ensuring customer loyalty. If the support executive is kind and patient, it leaves me feeling satisfied with the company. It does not cost a lot, and it might even get your company more business in the future. That’s what Zappos has to teach us – Make customers feel like they’re worth your time. 

2. Tony Robbins’ Leaves Customers With A Good Aftertaste

No matter how much you try to ensure great customer experience, sometimes things just don’t work out. Through no fault of your own, the customer can be left with a bad experience with your brand. When this happens, treat it as an opportunity for excellent customer support. 

Motivational speaker and author Tony Robbins, who also runs an e-commerce store, once had to face such a situation. Tony was scheduled to hold a webinar for his company’s coaching clients. Like it often happens, technical difficulties got in the way. Many of those who had registered for the webinar were not able to attend it. It was a bad customer experience. 

Now, Robbins could have just held his hands up and said, ‘Sorry, not our fault.’ That would have been alright, although some of the coaching clients would have been disappointed. 

Instead, Robbins’ team saw an opportunity there to offer good customer support and grabbed it. The Tony Robbins’ team offered the troubled registrants a $50 coupon to avail on any Tony product at their online store. 

Lesson #2: Turn Bad Customer Experience Into Excellent Customer Support

It’s important, as a business, to understand what you can and cannot control. You may not be able to control technical difficulties. When things have to go wrong, they just do. To stress about stopping those obstacles is useless. Instead, focus on what you can control. Your customers may have had a bad experience, but you can still leave them feeling good.

That’s what Tony Robbins’ team did. On some level, they couldn’t ensure that there were no technical difficulties. But they could make sure they don’t leave their customers dissatisfied. By offering the coupon, the company captured the customers’ attention and made sure they knew that they are cared for. This is a great example of turning bad customer experiences into great customer support opportunities.

3. Trader Joe’s Cuts the Red Tape and Delivers Care

I can’t recall how many times, as a customer, bad customer experiences have come with the words, ‘It’s company policy. We can’t help it.’ It can be a frustrating experience to have to deal with this, and it can lead to inefficient solutions. Often, it’s easier if the employee at the lowest levels has the ability to side-step company policy. Trader Joe’s shows how that pays off. 

When an 89-year-old retired navy officer was stuck at his home due to the snow, his daughter started to get worried. There was not enough food in the house. The daughter frantically called every grocery store to ask if they could deliver essentials. Unfortunately, there was a storm ahead, and no-one agreed to deliver. 

Finally, she called Trader Joe’s. The grocery store chain has a no-delivery policy, but the store manager on the line understood her situation. Trader Joe’s agreed to deliver the required groceries to the old man. In fact, the customer support executive went further and suggested items for the old man’s low-sodium diet. 

That’s not all. Trader Joe’s made the order free-of-cost and even wished the worried daughter ‘Merry Christmas!’ before keeping the phone. The order was delivered within 30 minutes, and the old man did not have to leave home in such cruel weather. That’s how you ensure great customer experience!

The man’s granddaughter posted about the incident on Reddit, and the post immediately went viral. When we say that good customer support pays in the future, we mean it. 

reddit - customer service example

Lesson #3: Don’t Let Company Policy Stop You From Caring About Customers

The customer care executive at Trader Joe’s in this situation could have just said, ‘Sorry, its company policy. We don’t deliver.’ But it takes that extra bit of care to go beyond the policy when it is really needed. It says that you’re not a heartless machine, and you care about customers. Clearly, this paid off well for Trader Joe’s in the long run. 

There is another important takeaway here. Employees are often just told to stick to policies. The larger mission of the brand is not communicated well enough to employees. Good internal communications practices change that. For Trader Joe’s executive to go out of their way and deliver great customer support, they need to have some freedom. Employees must be given the flexibility to cut through the red tape.

Trader Joe’s showed us how to provide great customer support. Sometimes, that means disobeying company policy. As long as the larger mission of the brand is accomplished, though, this is a good thing. To ensure great customer experience is key. 

4. Lego Knows How To Please Its Customers With Creativity

The one thing that any company could use more of its creativity. If customer care executives could only be allowed to freely take bold, creative decisions, that takes customer support to another level. Especially for a brand that makes children’s toys, creativity is the key to great customer support. 

Once, a young child spent all of his Christmas money on a small Lego Ninjago kit. Later, his dad took him on a shopping trip. The child wanted to take his new toys with him, but his dad advised him not to. The child did not listen to his dad’s advice and took the Lego toys anyway. Tragically, he lost Jay XZ, one of the characters of the set, on the trip. We all know how devastating it is as a child to lose a toy. 

The child wrote Lego a letter.

I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you an email to see if you will send me another one. I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.

The Lego executive who wrote back had the most adorable response, in which he described how Sensei Wu (another Ninjago character) told him that it was okay to send the child a Jay XZ figure, The executive also wrote that Sensei Wu advised that the child should protect the new Jay XZ and listen to his dad. Lego delivered a special Jay XZ to the child, as well as an additional enemy for Jay XZ to fight. 

Such creativity in customer support is so rare that the story went viral. Lego received praise from the media for their excellent customer support. There was no way for the Lego executive to know at the time, of course, that this would pay off in this way. But great customer support pays off when it is a habit. 

Lesson #4: Dare To Be Creative While Offering Support

The Lego executive could not have replied at all, and nobody would know. Or they could have sent a plain letter alongside the Lego. But Lego went a step ahead and showed great love and creativity towards their customers. That’s what paid off and earned Lego great customer feedback. 

Customers are used to plain, scripted responses. It’s so rare to see a customer support executive show their individuality. But that’s a great opportunity lost. Companies should know when to allow a bit of creativity and let the world see a human side. It makes for wonderful customer support, and in some cases, great marketing. 

5. Morton’s Steakhouse Works As A Team To Support Customers

Aside from ‘It’s company policy,’ the other big obstacle to great customer support is team coordination. Often, customer support can take ages if they involve different teams within a company. But if the teams are actually working together as they should, companies can deliver great customer experiences. Just take the example of Mortons. 

Peter Shankman, an author and marketing consultant, was a steak lover and loyal customer. Before boarding a flight to Newark, he jokingly tweeted, ‘Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)’. Shankman was just kidding, but what happened next blew his mind. 

At the Newark airport, just three hours after the tweet, a man wearing a tuxedo was waiting for him with his order from Morton’s. 

Within three hours, an official at corporate had gotten permission from the authorities to make this happen. Then for implementation, the nearest branch to the airport was 23 miles. But the restaurant chain made it happen, and become a hallmark of great customer support. 

Lesson #5: Great Coordination Delivers Great Customer Experiences

There is no way that Mortons’ could have pulled this off without great internal coordination. You can have the intention to provide great customer support, but that’s only possible if all your teams are internally on board. Employees across the company must share the enthusiasm to deliver great customer experiences. 

The Mortons’ story also received quite a lot of media attention. When you care for your customers and ensure good customer experiences, it pays off. But like Mortons’s showed us, to do that, you have to have great internal communication. 

Wrapping Up

All the examples above come down to just one thing: great customer support is about caring. You can’t just see your customers as sources of profit. If you care about customers and are willing to invest in that care, you’ll ensure excellent customer experience. In some cases, you might even be rewarded with some quality organic marketing. 

There are thousands of examples of great customer support to learn from. The five we’ve picked stand out for going out of their way and teaching us something new about keeping customers happy. When you invest in customer support like these companies do, it shows. It creates loyal customers and helps you grow both in the present and in the future. One such online survey tool that helps check customer satisfaction is SurveySparrow. Gain in-depth customer insights, customer pulse, roll out NPS surveys, and receive customer feedback to fix your pain points. 

Are you ready to do what you need to do to enable great customer experiences? Like we’ve seen in these examples, it takes effort. You need to invest time, and make sure different departments work well together. But once you get into the habit, customer support is deeply fulfilling and immensely rewarding. Use these examples and inspire your customer support team, and make sure your customers are happy they picked you! 

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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