The best entrepreneurs know how to turn chicken feces into chicken salad (to be PC). Thinking outside the box at the most trying times is what keeps businesses afloat and in good favor with investors, employees, and the public alike.
Now, that last demographic I mentioned often wields the most pull in your business’ success – there are millions of them, and after all, they pay the bills. The public will praise you for your grand successes, and they’ll tear you down for your biggest screw-ups.
So what can come of fast-moving customer service issues in the public eye? In a world largely influenced by social media experiences, the outcome is a choice of your own.
You see, it’s very much like those Goosebumps books where you choose your own ending. Will you craft a half-baked apology and become swallowed alive by the disgruntled and unforgiving masses? Or will you turn an unfortunate letdown into a delightful twist that solves your customers’ problems and exceeds their expectations?
If you’ve chosen the latter, stay tuned to soak in some inspirational solutions that spun disappointments into delightful miracles.
Even when service issues start with a customer’s own blunder, their satisfaction still falls on the brand.
When a man’s family departed their stay at a Ritz-Carlton in Florida, they left their son’s stuffed friend Joshie the Giraffe behind. What could have resulted in a delayed, lackluster return (if any return at all) was instead a carefully orchestrated turn of events.
To set the little boy’s (and his family’s) minds at ease following Joshie’s absence, the hotel staff staged the stuffed animal in a variety of scenarios throughout the premises: receiving a massage, hanging with other animals, cruising in a golf cart and more.
Photos courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
Someone’s clever concept turned a child’s misfortune into a cheery reunion and unmistakable “awwwwww” reactions from the Ritz’s target audience.
Here’s another instance of a hotel chain doing something remarkable for a customer.
Conference-goer Christina McMenemy stayed at Gaylord Opryland for the third year in a row, and after realizing what was making her sleep so well during the visits, she tweeted to them to investigate further:
The brand responded, saying that similar models existed from Sharper Image, but the hotel’s spa sound-equipped clocks weren’t available to the public. Realizing their guest’s disappointment, the Gaylord Opryland hotel staff followed up with a surprise gift to exceed her expectations.
Image from Buffer
There’s nothing quite like free tech to please a customer, especially when it fetches a better night’s sleep for them. Christina was hoping to purchase the special model, and instead she was blown away by a complimentary clock radio and a few kind words from the staff.
And you know you’re doing something right when a customer has this to say about their experience:
“You reaffirmed that there are still companies out there focused on great service, and you’ve made a lifelong fan out of me.” – Christina McMenemy
Fighting ridiculous with ridiculously funny
Now, this one isn’t a genuine customer service issue, but for the sake of example and the company’s clever response I’m going to include it anyways.
Following one man’s traumatic “confusion” with the female cycle and associated hygienic advertising, Bodyform CEO Caroline Williams stepped into the spotlight to come clean. This unexpected move resulted in one of the most hilarious and effective retorts to social conversation I’ve seen yet.
The key here is that, as a brand, sometimes you’ll get outspoken and irrational (or otherwise sarcastic) commenters on your page. This presents an opportunity for humorous response, and if the tone fits your brand’s voice and audience’s ears, you could create something that resonates.
So what’s the moral of these stories?
Make your solution too brilliant to ignore. When the opportunity presents itself to help someone in a delightful way, make it so clever and heartwarming and helpful and unexpected that your customer(s) can’t help but mention it to their friends. Make your solution so awesome that it attracts the attention of major social media outlets and newspapers and TV stations. Besides, what better way to get your brand noticed than by helping a customer in need?
Think about your audience. You need to, of course, please the person who’s having the problem, and they should always be your first concern. But the biggest advantage to a public response is the possibility to please your greater target audience. Do whatever you can to touch on the interests of your target audience in a scenario like this – as Ritz-Carlton’s cute approach did for families that commonly stay in their hotels, and as Bodyform’s witty video did for amused women all over the world.
Be unmistakably personable and caring. The most championed customer service stories are the ones that connect with customers’ emotions; they go beyond a simple product return or free shipping. It’s about going way out of your way to reward their loyalty and let them know you care. It’s about humanizing your brand through the most meaningful servicing story they’ll see all year.
Go big or go home. The only way to make a splash and truly impress your people is by making your solution a big, bold one. If you pour the time and effort into an unconventional solution, you better make sure it’s dressed to impress. People will know whether or not your response was genuine and worthwhile.
Now it’s your turn! Share your own examples of astoundingly delightful customer service triumphs in the comments below, whether it’s your own doing or that of another company.