What MAKES a business SUCCESSFUL exactly?
Is it the kind of products and services it offers?
Is it the employees it has?
Is it all about the founder and his or her passion?
Is it their history, experience, track record, tradition, and such?
In marketing and advertising, we generally see the above elements getting advertised – their incredible CEO, their Team, their passion, their products and services, their long tradition, and so on.
But, the truth is, and any smart business owner knows this, a business begins and ends with its customers.
When it comes to weighing those above elements against the customers a business has, none of them stand a chance.
If there’s no market for your business idea, forget launching your business. It’s going to sink faster than the Titanic.
Forget your incredible idea, your star CEO, your product/services, your passionate team, your tradition, your this, your that. In fact, forget the ‘you’ entirely!
Your business is all about “them”. It is supported, fed, nourished, and grown entirely by your customers. If it wasn’t so, we wouldn’t have so many hard-working entrepreneurs and business owners unable to succeed in the business world.
We wouldn’t have big giant companies getting slain left and right by tiny start-ups with a mostly “clueless” team of founders unexposed to the business world.
We wouldn’t have star CEOs losing their jobs.
Heck, if you think about it, we wouldn’t really have product/service innovations at all! The world wouldn’t really change, and definitely not at the pace it is changing today.
We would be driving faulty old cars, using pagers instead of smart-phones, won’t have access to the sleek laptops and fast internet we have today.
There always was some need, which somebody identified and delivered on.
This goes on to say that there is some other factor driving change, driving innovation, driving new start-ups, bringing down old giants and erecting new ones in their place.
What other factor could it possibly be?
It’s the customers or market need (or whatever else you want to call it) driving the business world round and round.
It’s customers who validate your business idea by buying your products and giving money, lend credibility, social proof, and security to your business by referring to it, offering testimonials… buying again and again, and generally supporting your business journey all the way!
Those who get it early on, get to make it big.
Others, well you hear about them in statistics such as these – 50% of small businesses fail after 5 years in business and around 70% in their 10th year in business.
That’s why, today I decided that it was worth it sharing Incredible Customer Service Stories that went viral, shared by customers themselves!
These stories offer true insight into the meaning of what it means servicing your customers and being a successful business.
Each of the stories above not only make for a great read, they also teach an important lesson on conducting a business the right way – the way of the customer.
After every story, we will go over some of the key lessons from each of the stories.
Chances are, you have heard of 1 or 2. In any case, go over them, and let me know if it doubles your passion for re-doubling your efforts in changing your customers’ lives with your business and efforts, no matter what industry you are in, or even how “generic” your product.
Let’s get started!
Customer story #1: Southwest Airlines
This is a story about an old man who received a devastating piece of news – His three-year-old grandson was beaten up to death by his mother’s boyfriend. The boy, was in a coma, and was supposed to be taken off life support at 9 p.m. next evening so his organs could be used to save lives.
The grandfather had very little time to tell him goodbye for the last time. The problem was, the man had to get from L.A. to Tucson and then take a flight to Denver. Luckily his wife called Southwest and was able to arrange the last-minute flight after she explained the emergency situation.
He showed up at the airport two hours early before the flight, but it turned out to be not enough. Unfortunately, LAX was exceptionally crowded that day and man was held up by long lines. When he finally made it to the gate, he was 12 minutes late.
We all know how unrelenting airlines can be when it comes to letting late people into the airplane. And, there’s always a minute by minute schedule pilots have to stick to show planes don’t crash into each other… it’s of course not anything like holding up a taxi… sheesh!
In this case, however, the airline pilot got to know about the man’s situation somehow and refused to take off without having the man on board.
The plane was supposed to take off at 11:50, it finally took off at 12:02. The man walked down the jetway to speak to the pilot and said that he cannot thank him enough for this. The pilot responded:
They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.
The Lesson – It took a lot of courage for the pilot to keep the plane, passengers, and schedules on hold. He could have easily lost his job!
As it’s said, fortune favours the bold. He stuck to his stand and did the right thing.
Luckily, it all turned good for him as the airline supported his decision and said that they were proud of him.
A beautiful story with a happy ending!
Customer story #2: LEGO
A LEGO fan named Luka Apps, at just 7 years old, saved up for and bought a a Ninjago (Lego ninja) named Jay XZ.
Despite his Dad’s repeat warnings, he brought his Ninjago on a shopping trip … and lost it. (Uff, you know how kids are!)
Devastated, Luka wrote a letter to Lego explaining his loss and assuring the Lego staff that he would take extra-special care of his action figure if they sent him another one.
To his utter amazement, the LEGO staff got back to him, and they not only replaced the toy, but sent a lot of cool additional toys and figures in LEGO to add to his collection.
The story, of course went viral!
The Lesson – On face value, LEGO didn’t have much to gain replacing the kid’s toy for him. They could have just said, “Big deal, kids lose their toys all the time,” and trashed the letter.
Why bother freely replacing the kid’s toy?
But, they did it by helping out a kid who saved up to buy that toy, and then lost it. In return, LEGO earned a lot of goodwill.
I am sure Luka will keep buying LEGO toys throughout his adulthood.
Customer story #3: Trader Joe’s
An 89-year-old grandfather was snowed in at his Pennsylvanian home around Christmas time.
Warning of an impending storm and bad weather was given, and his daughter living elsewhere was worried that he wasn’t going to left without enough food as there was no option to drive to the nearest store.
She called several stores and markets asking for delivery. But, no one agreed as there was a storm coming.
As a last attempt, she ended up calling Trader Joe’s who didn’t usually deliver goods. But, to her utter surprise, Trader Joe’s staff agreed to help out.
They even helped out with choosing low-sodium products to fit the diet of the old man.
The food was delivered at the man’s doorstep 30 minutes after the call, free of charge!
The story went viral and Trader Joe’s got a lot of attention and praise!
The Lesson – As far as I am concerned, this seems like Trader Joe’s received a call for help and they did the right thing – they answered it, when nobody else would!
Again, an example of courage in the face of a storm (quite literally) and a desire to help when it was so much easier to just pass!
Customer Story #4 – Sainsbury’s Takes Advice from a 3-Year Old
Lily Robinson (who insists that she is three and a half years old) was quite confused by one of Sainsbury’s products called tiger bread. In her eyes, the bread didn’t resemble a tiger at all and in fact looked very much like a giraffe.
It’s hard to disagree with her!
With a little assistance from mom and dad, she wrote a letter to Sainsbury’s customer service department.
To her surprise, customer support manager Chris King (age 27 and one-third) told her that he couldn’t agree more. He explained the origins of the name:
“I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea — it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it? It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a loooong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.”
Lily’s mom enjoyed the letters and ended up posting them on her blog. Before long, this cute correspondence was a viral hit, and the pressure was on for Sainsbury’s to change the name of the product to the much more appropriate giraffe bread.
Knowing the customer was certainly right in this instance — and spotting an unusual opportunity to do something fun — Sainsbury’s changed the name of the bread and put signs around their stores that give a humorous nod to Lily’s original idea.
The Lesson –
Every now and then, we come across companies and its representatives showing a rigid attitude regardless of how much the situation demands it, forget accommodating the requests of a 3 year old.
Sainsbury made the smart choice by accommodating the requests of possibly their youngest customer despite bureaucratic hurdles, got a lot of free marketing, and positioned themselves as a fun company, with a responsive customer service department.
When was the last time you contacted customer support of any company and got no response? That says a lot, doesn’t it?
Customer Story #5 – ‘THE GREATEST CUSTOMER SERVICE STORY EVER TOLD.’
If you have been reading our articles, I shared this in my previous article here – https://www.morphomfg.com/how-to-tell-your-brand-story-for-maximum-growth-and-impact-part-iii/
But, what the heck, it’s too good to leave it out. So, here it is again –
This story was written by Peter Shankman, who was heading to Newark from Tampa one late evening on a flight. He knew he would reach his apartment late and wouldn’t have time to grab dinner on the way.
Being a steak lover and a regular customer of Morton’s Steakhouse, he started craving steak.
Unwilling to eat fast food at the airport, he tweeted this to Morton’s:
He wrote it jokingly of course, and writes that other than a few giggles, didn’t expect anything in return.
He shut off his phone on the flight. Two and a half hours later, he landed at Newark.
Walking off the plane, he headed towards the area where the drivers wait, as his assistant had reserved him a car home.
Looking for his driver, he saw his name, waved to him, and started walking to the door of Newark, like he’d done hundreds of times before.
“Um, Mr. Shankman,” said a man standing next to the driver.
He turned around.
“There’s a surprise for you here,” said the man.
The man was in a tuxedo.
And he was carrying a Morton’s bag.
He introduced himself as Alex from Morton’s Hackensack and proceeded to tell Mr. Shankman that he’d heard he was hungry, and inside was a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous round things of bread, two napkins, and silverware.
He hands him the bag. Mr. Shankman is stunned, for life. He later goes on to share his story through blogging, tv interviews, and of course, with his friends and family.
Peter Shankman further shares that Morton’s Hackensack was 23.5 miles away from Newark airport according to Google Maps. That meant that in just under three hours, someone at Morton’s Corporate had to see his tweet, get authorization to do this stunt, get in touch with Morton’s Hackensack, and place the order.
Then Morton’s Hackensack had to cook the order, get it boxed up, and get a server to get in his car, and drive to Newark Airport then(never an easy task, no matter where you’re coming from) then, while all this was happening, track down his flight, where he was landing, and be there when he walked out of security!
That’s really making a difference with not just your philanthropic efforts, but also through just the way you think about your products or services and the way you deliver them to your customers.
There’s a lesson in it for all of us!
And, how’s that for someone writing a great brand story for you and promoting the heck out of it, all for free!
Here’s the link to the full story if you want to read it – https://www.shankman.com/the-greatest-customer-service-story-ever-told-starring-mortons-steakhouse/
It’s never really easy pleasing customers. Few companies can really do it. But, when and if they do it, not only they immediately separate themselves as a brand to serve rather than take money, they start building fans, and get to become a part of the legend.
As we talked in my ‘How To Build A Great Brand Story’, everyone is hungry for a great story. If and when you can give them one, the public, the media, the internet is going to lap it up.
A side benefit you can’t avoid is lots of free publicity, marketing, goodwill, and of course, new fans/shoppers/customers.
Like this article? Share it with someone you know is in business, and see if their way of dealing with their customers and clients improves!