Several months ago, we talked about how easy it is to excel at customer service.
Most businesses today just suck at customer service. Customers are lucky if they walk out of a store or restaurant and aren’t furious; being content or happy just often isn’t in the cards at all. So if you want to be good at customer service, all you have to do is be mediocre, right?
While we certainly aren’t preaching that you just have to be “meh” at providing good service to your customers, we recognize that the industry has suffered so much that companies that are just average at customer service can actually be a success to their customers.
But a recent article in Mental Floss reminded us that there are some great customer service stories out there. They found 11 outstanding — and I mean, outstanding — examples of great customer service.
The examples they give are the now near-legendary delivery from Morton’s steakhouse to customer service writer Peter Shankman, or the tear-jerking story (yes, we cried) of the Southwest Airlines who waited for a man who was late for his flight, because he wanted to race home to see his grandson before the boy died. These stories made us smile and made us get more than a little misty.
But the story that stands out, not for its uniqueness, but its commonplace-ness, is Zappos
I could do an entire Quick 10 on Zappos customer service superstars alone, but I’ve limited it to one of my favorites instead. A customer’s mother had recently had some medical treatment that left her feet numb and sensitive to pressure – and also rendering most of her shoes totally useless. She ordered her mother six pairs of shoes from Zappos, hoping that at least one of them would work. After receiving the shoes, her mother called Zappos to get instructions on how to return the shoes that didn’t work, explaining why she was returning so many shoes. Two days later, she received a large bouquet of flowers from Zappos, wishing her well and hoping that she recovered from her treatments soon. Two days later, the customer, her mother and her sister were all upgraded to “Zappos VIP Members,” which gives them all free expedited shipping on all orders.
Not impressed? Just Google “Zappos” and “customer service” and you’re bound to find something that astounds you. — Stacy Conradt, “11 of the Best Customer Service Stories Ever,” Mental Floss
That’s what we like about Zappos. This story is not that uncommon. They’re always going out of their way to do their best to make their customers happy. The strategy has paid off, because they were bought by Amazon for $928 million in 2009, and were still given the power and permission to continue to provide this kind of stellar service.
While, unfortunately, many businesses can get by with average service if they want to stand out from the bad ones, very few companies have the patience or vision to surpass Zappos. We certainly don’t want you to strive for mediocrity, so we want to hold Zappos up as an example of someone who practices outstanding customer service.