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7 Examples of ultimate customer-centricity

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Every company has customer satisfaction high on the agenda these days. But just having happy customers doesn't mean you're the best in the business, these customers are not per definition loyal customers. To create true loyalty amongst your customers, you need to offer an excellent customer experience. Below 7 ultimate examples for your inspiration and entertainment:

#1: A lost plush toy in the Ritz-Carlton

A family had a wonderful vacation in the Ritz-Carlton. Upon returning, they discovered that Joshie had gone missing. Joshie was a plush giraffe; their son's favorite toy. As every good father would do, he told his son that the plush toy had decided to enjoy a few extra days of vacation.

Luckily, the hotel called the father that night to tell him the giraffe was found. The father explained them his little lie, and asked if they could take a photo with the plush toy as prove to his son. If possible, with sunglasses and in a chair, to make his story more believable. The Ritz-Carlton immediately agreed to this plan, but decided to take it a bit further.

The day after, an employee was sent on a mission with the giraffe: to photograph him in all kinds of situations. The result was a hilarious documentary of Joshie driving around in a golfcar, lying on the massage table, and chilling with other plush toys.

The reactions from the crowd were highly positive, while the costs to make this happen were of course very little. Even a luxurious hotel as the Ritz-Carlton can improve their image strongly by doing something creative as this.

#2: Zappos; more than buying shoes

The online shoe shop Zappos, these days a part of Amazon, knows how to completely differentiate itself based on their customer service: Every purchase is delivered free of charge, you can return your purchase up to 365 days after buying and employees of the customer service department are used as the most important marketing tool. A few aspects of Zappos where they manage to achieve the highest Net Promotor Score in it's branch:

  • Employees don't get rewarded for short phone calls, they win with long phone calls. The longest call lasted for 9 hours and 23 minutes, where every subject was discussed. Not just buying new shoes. Zappos mostly wants to help you, and sell shoes 'on the side'
  • After an intense period of trainings, employees will receive 2000 dollars to not take the job. Zappos' intention with this is to prevent people from taking the job just for the money; you sincerely need to enjoy your work.
    The only word clients are allowed to have in their vocabulary after an interaction with Zappos: "Wow"

#3: AskOnce principle in South-Africa

How often are you sent back and forth as a customer? You call up customer service, explain your problem and are put through. This repeats itself a few more times, and before you know it you are explaining your problem for the seventh time.

To prevent this, the South-African Nedbank created the 'Ask Once' principle; as a customer you call the bank once with your problem, and the bank employee makes sure it will fix your problem. Possibly you are called back once by the same employee for extra information, but this employee makes sure he/she solves your problem.
How many times have you experienced this type of customer service in other companies?

#4: Giving away free food as a Marketing trick

The owner of the Macaroni Grill decided to use the entire marketing budget to start a new marketing trick: once every month, on a not communicated night, they would give away every meal for free.

This creates many extra customers that hope it's their 'lucky night', and at the same time the atmosphere in the restaurant holds a good competitive excitement. This action made the customers of Macaroni Grill thé ideal advertising channel. It gave the company a huge growth boost.

#5: Thoughtful Car dealer or Big Brother?

An employee of a car dealer learned himself the trick to directly look up the license plate of the arriving customer in the company's system. As soon as the customer would arrive, the employee walked up to them and immediately started welcoming them with their name. You can imagine their reaction: maybe it had a Wow-effect, but it could have also been a little creepy.

In the end these costumers won't ever forget this car dealer and his (over)thoughtful employee must earn a bit of appreciation. A personal approach is definitely a good start!

#6: Club Mediterranée on the airport

A group of vacationers was completely ready for a great vacation, when they found out their flight had a 6 hours delay. On top of that, two extra stops were added to the flight, which made the journey last 10 hours longer than expected.

This amount of delay wasn't foreseen, and therefor there was too little food and drinks on the airplane. All vacationers turned really moody and directly started talking about compensating claims.

When this news reached the Club Mediterranée's director he directly went to the airport, armed with a part of his crew. Straight after the airport customs they installed themselves with food and drinks. Afterwards vans brought all guests to the resort where a huge banquet was awaiting them, followed by a party.

This made the guests' total experience much better then when this had never happend. The director didn't have to arrange all this, after all this was the airline's fault, not his. But he would've had grumpy guests that wouldn't enjoy their stay, and they would probably never return to his resort again. After such a fantastic experience many guests returned the next year and recommended the resort to others: many more new guests!

#7: The case of the tires 

I like to finish with my personal favorite about a Warehouse in America. In the spirit of Customer Satisfaction, they created a new slogan: When a customer has a complaint, we first solve the issue, satisfy the customer, and after that -when still needed- we look for the cause. Why does the customer need to know what the cause was of who's fault it is? The customer wants to be helped!

One morning, an angry customer enters the warehouse's counter with two bicycle tires:
"Less than 4 months ago I bought these tires here and they are already completely worn out. This can't be possible, right?"

The counter employee sees the memo with the new slogan and decides to directly act on this slogan. She offers the customer her apologies and tells him to return to the warehouse on Saturday. She will make sure there will be two new tires ready to be picked up.

"Yes, you better fix this." growls the customer and walks away. On Saturday, the customer returns and directly offers his apologies to the employee/ He'd misunderstood his wife and accidentally he'd mixed up the shops. The employee responses: "No problem sir, this can happen to everyone. Here are your new tires."

The customer looks surprised at the employee and says: "But I never bought these tires here!"

The employee responses with: "I already that the last time sir, because we don't sell bicycle tires here."

This action may have cost the warehouse around 20 dollars, but this story has gone completely viral and has given the company a fantastic image. It proves that you can truly focus on customer satisfaction, even with a lot of creativity and a small budget.

Conclusion

I hope that the above examples show you that delivering an excellent customer experience doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Often this is a mindset, combined with positive employees and a sparkle of creativity.

When was the last time you and your company went 'the extra mile' to surprise your customers?

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