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How far can you go to please a customer?

Which companies come to your mind the moment you think about the best customer service you have received? Amazon is a must mentioned company when we talk about customer support. When it comes to surprising their customers, Amazon has definitely proved to be the best, time and again.

Jeff Bezos had once said,

We have a relentless focus on customer service. That’s even more important online than in the physical world. If you make a customer unhappy in the physical world, they will tell five people. Online they can tell 5000. There’s something about email that means people are much more willing to say exactly what they think and they can reach a lot more people.

A question was being asked in quoraWhy is Amazon (read Jeff Bezos) so customer focused?

When Jeff Bezos picked “books” for selling from a list of 20 items he had shortlisted, he attended a 4-day course on “How to Sell Books” in Portland, organized by American Bookseller Association. The instructor of the course was none other than Richard Howorth, Owner, Square Books. In one of the classes, he narrated a story of his one interesting experience.

The story went as follows –

One fine day, while sitting in his bookstore office, Richard was informed by his manager that one lady was riotously complaining about something.

On absorbing the urgency of the situation, Richard went downstairs and asked politely ‘How may I help you?’

The lady spoke, ‘Well, my car was parked outside your store when the guy in the balcony of the flat threw mud on my car from upstairs. My husband cleaned up my car just this morning. Who’s gonna clean it now?’.

To which Richard quickly replied ‘Can I wash your car?’. The lady said ‘Yes, please’. Consequently, both of them drove to a car-cleaning service situated nearby. To their dismay, the store was closed.

Without much delay, Richard suggested, ‘Let’s go to my home’. And they drove to Richard’s home.

Square Book, currently is one of the largest Bookstore in the Country. Imagine its owner, Richard Howorth, who is also a senior instructor at ABA, cleaned someone else’s car all by himself!

This story made Jeff Bezos conclude

That day I realized how far you have to go to please a customer. And then I decided to make sure Amazon was customer centric.

To this day, Jeff Bezos abide by the vows he had taken more than 20 years ago. Each year, he makes sure that each of his employees gain an understanding of the customers. As part of the training session, he makes thousands of his managers to take up call-center training. The practice ingrains Amazon’s philosophy into the minds of the managers. Amazon’s philosophy is about listening to the customers with the purpose of understanding them. Jeff believes that while it’s easy to listen to customers, understanding them can be real challenging but that is the most significant first step to prosper the organization.

This practice is quite analogous with a doctrine followed by U.S. Marines, according to which, regardless of their ranks, every marine has to get the training of a rifleman to start with.

Key Takeaway,

Everyone has to be able to work in a call center.

Customer Support

When it comes to customer support, how can one not mention Apple.

Steve Jobs had proved time and again that he is a true UX and CX thought leader. To say that he transformed the definition of customer experience would not be an exaggeration. A number of customer stories floating around the social media speak a lot about the exemplary treatment they received at the Apple Stores and in many other ways.

He had a simple approach which he never failed to communicate to his team over and over again.

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology–not the other way around.

It is said that, Tim Cook has successfully kept his predecessor’s philosophy alive. A few years back, news had surfaced that Tim Cook himself responds to his emails just like Steve Jobs did. While there’s no way to verify the authenticity of the news but the fact that Apple could make a part of its customer base believe that the CEO is personally reply is, in itself a commendable customer service.

I would like to mention a customer story here –

As per Aron Booker, years ago when Steve Jobs was the CEO, he had purchased a 15-inch MacBook Pro alongwith a 22-inch monitor, and was left surprised when he realized that he wasn’t eligible for a discount on AppleCare. Had he purchased another computer of the similar prize, he would have been eligible. So, being unsatisfied, Booker sent “a very brief email” directly addressed to Steve Jobs and got an unexpected three-word response from the legendary visionary: “We’ll fix this.”

The very next day Booker received a call from one of Steve Jobs’ assistant and the problem was immediately solved.

Stories of the above kind are there in huge numbers and it only proves that a single unsatisfied customer is a big deal for Apple.

When we talk about exemplary customer service, Whatsapp in no behind. This indispensable app which took the realtime communication experience to all new level is a completely customer focused company.

One funny incident is noteworthy, Nina Michaine had written to Whatsapp CEO, Jan Koum, complaining him that why didn’t Whatsapp have a sheep emoji. It was surprising to see Koum replying with a shocking tone and corrected her that the app did in fact have sheep emoji.

A number of customers have hailed the privately-owned grocery chain, Trader Joe’s. A popular customer story had surfaced some time back. Having its origin at Reddit, the story very soon had got itself featured on popular publications.

The story went this way –

In the midst of the prevailing bad weather and impending storm in a region of Pennsylvanian, an elderly man of 89 got snowed in at his home. This made his daughter worry that no food would be able to reach him.

After a number of unsuccessful attempts to find someone to deliver food to her father, she tried with Trader Joe’s. She was told that in normal circumstances, they do not usually deliver in such extreme weather condition. However, considering the scenario, they would gladly deliver the food and even suggested food that should help one maintain the low-sodium diet.

The employees even assured that the food would be delivered free of cost. Within minutes after the order had been placed, food was delivered at the man’s doorstep.

Now that’s a service to be remembered for years!

Key takeaway,

During desperate circumstance, when you get the opportunity to help a customer, it’s okay to not go by the company rule book.

Let us know in the comment section, how far can you go to please a customer?


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