I have featured a number of guests bloggers over the last twelve months – each of them have bought a level of knowledge and expertise that I have felt readers of my blog would find interesting, inspiring and thought provoking. One of the things that connects all of us is PASSION – passion for all things customer. Passion for organisations to just do what is right. The blog that I am sure you are about to greatly enjoy reading is absolutely driven by someone who has passion in spades.

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Please allow me to introduce you to Sophia Wright. Sophia is the owner and head researcher for Customer Service Guru – we will explain more about that later. This is her very first blog post – if she can write posts like this every week, you will stop reading mine!! Sophia walks us through 5 incredible and amazing customer service stories that help bring to life what ‘putting the customer first’ really means – please read on – you will not be disappointed…..

Everybody knows that a uniquely positive customer service experience – one that makes you feel like you have stepped right onto a red carpet – is an increasingly difficult thing to come by. With many companies wishing to cut costs and focus more on quantity of satisfied customers rather than the extent of satisfaction itself, the consumer world is becoming more and more crowded with automated responses, impersonal customer numbers and reams of vague, pre-prepared FAQs that are neither wanted nor helpful.

Whilst aiming to make efficiency and majority satisfaction rates a priority is by no means detrimental, many companies would do well to realise that sometimes just one spectacular, chivalric dose of customer service for one individual has the potential to reap great long-term rewards. When people are on the receiving end of a unique, unusual or personalised customer service, they are thrilled by their own exclusivity and usually cannot wait to tell everybody they know. More often than not, this will involve the art of blogging and social sharing, which can only be further beneficial for brands.

Here are five particular customer service experiences to have made their way into the online airwaves in recent years, rocketing the companies involved into Customer Service Guru Heaven.

Zappos Sends Flowers (2007)

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A woman who had to return several pairs of shoes back to online shoe retailer Zappos was touched by how sensitive and attentive a corporate company could be. Her reasons for returning the shoes were circumstantial: her mother had recently undergone medical treatment which had left her feet numb yet sensitive to pressure.

Upon calling the company to ask for instructions on how to return the shoes and explain her reasons for doing so, Zappos later mailed a bouquet of flowers to the woman’s mother to express their sympathy, and proceeded to make the rest of the family Zappos VIP Members. If that’s not a clear-cut example of a company with some soul, then what is?

Amazon Saves Christmas (2007)

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For one particular father, it was truly a Christmas miracle when online retailer Amazon took pity on the prospect of a young boy being disappointed on Christmas morning. Three days before Christmas, when his son’s Playstation 3 was still nowhere to be found, the consumer in question was understandably worried and went online to investigate.  After finding that the package had been delivered and signed for by his neighbour, but left in the apartment building hallway where it was no longer to be seen, the customer was devastated.

The man was well aware he didn’t have a leg to stand on – the product had been delivered and signed for; Amazon had done their job. However, an Amazon customer service rep who must have been feeling festive took heed to the man’s desperate pleading and issued him another Playstation 3 that same day, with free shipping.

Even more miraculously, the Playstation 3 arrived on Christmas Eve – a true gift from Santa.

Morton’s Hackensack Surprise Dinner (2011)

Businessman Peter Shankman understandably got the shock of his life when he jokingly tweeted his favourite steakhouse, Morton’s Hackensack, expressing his craving for a porterhouse steak dinner for when his flight landed in Newark Airport after a busy day of business meetings. Despite the nearest Morton’s being a good 23.5 miles away, an employee from the branch was amazingly waiting for Shankman at the gate when his flight touched down, dressed in a tuxedo and brandishing a porterhouse steak meal, complete with silverware.

Shankman was utterly stunned, and did not hesitate to tweet his incredulity to the world…as well as blogging about the experience to the online community. Although the stunt must have taken some extensively strategic planning and time management in order to be successful, this incredible overcoming of logistics undoubtedly did wonders for Morton’s. Not only would it have inspired curious diners to become a part of its customer base, it also put Morton’s straight to the heart of the food industry map.

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Delta Airline Passport Rescue (2013)

Marketing entrepreneur Barbara Sullivan was overwhelmed by the kindness, empathy and dedication demonstrated by one particular employee after she accidentally dropped her passport into a mailbox at Charles de Gaulle airport, France. She was told by airport officials that she must wait until the following day to visit the US embassy in Paris before she could fly as the mailbox could not be opened; however, a Delta representative from the airline’s ticket counter proved to be a knight in shining armour to Ms. Sullivan’s dilemma.

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Mr. Karim Sayoud took matters into his own hands, calling US Homeland Security to verify Ms. Sullivan’s identity, before escorting her to the check-in desk and convincing his colleagues to accept her baggage and issue her a boarding bass. He then continued to escort her through French passport control and security, all the way to Delta gate agents to ensure Ms. Sullivan got on the plane safely.

He then arranged the safe return of his passenger’s passport by taping a handwritten note on the mailbox for the attention of the postal worker the following day. The passport arrived at Ms. Sullivan’s New York apartment via Fed Ex soon after.

Ms. Sullivan did not hesitate to share her experience online, claiming it had changed her attitude towards flight travel forever. She also took the time to reach out to Delta to inform them, in the hope that it would make the same impact on Mr. Sayoud’s life as it had her own.

Captain Mike of the Good Ship Netflix (2013)

One particular customer service chap from Netflix who happened to be manning the site’s online chat feature has become renowned for giving one customer an experience that was engaging, funny, and certainly different.

From the word go, the rep – who referred to himself as ‘Captain Mike of the Good Ship Netflix’ – took on a lively, inventive role, using analogies relating to the Star Trek Enterprise to make his customer feel more at ease and get to the root of the problem. What is perhaps even more pleasing about this interaction is that the customer in question had no problem joining in, playing along as an ‘Engineer’. The two exchanged information back and forth until the rep was able to decide what to do, which inevitably must have made for a very entertaining troubleshooting process.

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The rep’s initiative to change things up and assume an imaginary world was undoubtedly a risk, but one which has since paid off, earning Netflix extra brownie points for coolness.

Having worked in the consumer marketing profession as a Customer Relations manager and consultant for the last few years, Sophia’s knowledge and expertise have driven her  to establishing Customer Service Guru to share her skills and knowledge of the customer service industry.

When it comes to consumerism, Sophia is compelled by new and pioneering service and marketing techniques that put customers at the heart of success and growth. She values platforms for discussion regarding the satisfaction of the customer and enjoys the recognition of companies who are leading the way with regards to developing long-term B2C relationships. You can find out more at www.customerserviceguru.co.uk or follow Sophia on Twitter  https://twitter.com/gurucustomers