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Customer service lessons from the big end of town

By CCIWA Editor 

Frugal wows 

It doesn’t cost a lot to make a big impact. In fact, research indicates we are more likely to be swayed by small gestures, than lavish attempts to “buy” favour.  

More and more businesses are catching on to the idea of “frugal wows” by empowering employees to look for opportunities to go the extra mile for customers.  

One often cited example is that of a help-desk worker for cloud computing firm Rackspace. During a marathon trouble shooting session the caller remarked he was hungry.

As the Rackspace employee had the client’s address, he ordered a surprise free pizza delivery, which arrived while the pair were still on the phone.  

In another instance, a room service staffer at a major hotel chain bought a can of Coke from a vending machine after a hotel guest expressed disappointment the hotel menu only offered Pepsi.

Encouraging staff to commit random acts of kindness towards customers creates loyalty and it makes your staff feel good, too.  

An actual human – 24/7 

Amazon upped the stakes of customer service dramatically when it launched its Kindle Fire HDX tablet and Fire phone in the US in 2013.

Both devices came with a mayday button which, when pressed, would connect customers via video call with Amazon tech-support within a matter of seconds.  

Users could then be talked through any problems, with tech support staff able to access the tablet or phone and draw on the screen to direct users towards specific features.  

However, Amazon has discontinued the option, after it became a hotspot for pranks and most likely a money pit. It maintains the 24/7 customer support at the tap of a button, though. 

A tiger’s tale 

UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s gained a mountain of positive publicity and changed the name of one of its breads after a cute customer query went viral. 

In 2011, the supermarket received a letter from a customer asking how tiger bread was named.  

It read: “Why is tiger bread called tiger bread? It should be called giraffe bread. Love from Lily Robinson age 3 and ½.” 

A Sainsbury’s customer manager dashed off a spontaneous reply which read:

“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 looong time ago thought it looked stripy like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.”  

He included a £3 gift card and signed the letter “Chris King (age 27 & 1/3)”. 

When the girl’s mother posted the hilarious exchange online, it went viral, and the Sainsbury’s brand benefitted from the warm and fuzzy glow created.  

And all it cost was £3 and some time. The supermarket later changed the name of its Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread. The story delivered a message in a humorous way that Sainsbury’s was a company that valued its customers and their opinions. 

Frugal wows 

It doesn’t cost a lot to make a big impact. In fact, research indicates we are more likely to be swayed by small gestures, than lavish attempts to “buy” favour.  

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