By Nona Phinn
Caring companies show willingness to walk in their customers’ shoes.
According to Investopedia, “customer service is the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service,” often taking place “while performing a transaction for the customer.” I challenge that today customer service is more than transactions and extends beyond the product or service a company or individual provides. Consumers have raised the bar for customer service and expect companies to do the same. They are demanding an everyday, intimate relationship with brands — one where companies know their thoughts before they say a word.
Here are a few customer service moments that showcase companies willing to engage in this type of relationship with customers. These companies not only gather data to know customers’ shoe size, but they are willing to wear customers’ shoes and vow to forever walk in them.
The Ritz-Carlton went the extra mile to ensure a young boy would not go without his best friend, a stuffed giraffe named Joshie. As Chris Hurn wrote in an article for HuffPost, in 2012, he and his family stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. Upon returning home, the family realized they had left Joshie at the hotel. Staff at the Ritz-Carlton found Joshie in the laundry and promised he would be returned home safely. The stuffed giraffe made it home, accompanied by photos of him enjoying the hotel after the family had left.
Four years later, when Hurn and his family returned to the same Ritz-Carlton, staff learned that Hurn’s son had arrived without Joshie, as the stuffed giraffe had been lost once again, indefinitely. Before the family’s departure, a new stuffed giraffe was presented to Hurn’s son with a note introducing him as Jeffie, Joshie’s long-lost cousin. The note also explained that Jeffie would be a new friend while Joshie was exploring the world.
While the Ritz-Carlton became a hero to Hurn’s son, Lowe’s honored one. In September 2017, residents of Orlando, Florida, were preparing for Hurricane Irma, and generators topped many priority lists. As reported by WPXI news station, Pam Brekke was having a hard time finding one for her dad, who depends on oxygen. She had just missed the last generator at Lowe’s and became overwhelmed by tears in the middle of the store. Ramon Santiago, a customer who had a generator in his cart, witnessed Brekke’s tears and gave his generator to her. Overtaken by joy, Brekke broke the language barrier that limited the use of words and embraced Santiago in a moment of thanks.
Santiago’s actions became the news of the day, so when a generator was returned to the store later that night, the manager knew exactly what to do. She reached out to WFTV news station, which had been present for Santiago’s heroic sacrifice, and she asked Santiago to return to the store. When he arrived, WFTV was already on hand to capture Lowe’s staff presenting him with a free generator — just in time for Irma’s arrival.
It’s so amazing when companies take their eyes off their bottom lines long enough to focus on their customers, those who bring their bottom lines to life. Let’s cheer for these great examples and the many more that go unrecognized. Let’s hold our breaths for the day when stories like these become the norm.