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Above and beyond: 5 true stories of exceptional customer service

Remember that time you had a truly amazing customer service experience? You know, the story you just had to tell your family, friends and coworkers about? Chances are that it wasn’t just a case of random kindness.
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Remember that time you had a truly amazing customer service experience? You know, the story you just had to tell your family, friends and coworkers about? Chances are that it wasn’t just a case of random kindness.

Why? Because great companies obsess over continually improving their customer service and work to embed this commitment at every level of the organization. They hire equally great employees with positive attitudes and provide the right training and culture that enables them to solve their customers’ needs or problems. Truly customer-fixated companies take an extra step to deliver an unforgettable service experience by empowering and even rewarding employees who go above and beyond to make customers happy. 

Here are five inspirational stories of exemplary commitment to above-and-beyond customer service.

1. Talk about flying the friendly skies! Barbara had a 7:55 a.m. flight booked from Salt Spring Island to Vancouver International Airport, but that morning, Ganges Harbour was fogged in and SaltSpring Air had to cancel the flight. The seaplane company offered her either a full refund or they promised to book her on the next ferry to the mainland. Barbara didn’t have time for a ferry because she had a connecting flight at 10 a.m. to Toronto. “They said ‘OK, sit tight and we’ll see what we can do,’” wrote Barbara on tripadvisor.ca.

And that’s when the seaplane company took customer service to new heights. Determined to get her to YVR on time, they found a fog-free spot on the island where they could safely take off. The pilot first flew to Fulford Harbour on the southern end of the island to pick Barbara up before continuing to Vancouver.

She even met the president of SaltSpring Air who arrived to help dock the plane at Fulford.

“A few minutes after the plane arrived, off we went and arrived at YVR with time to spare and they made sure the shuttle was there waiting to take us to YVR. What fantastic service!” Barbara wrote.

2. At Vancouver Island’s Country Grocer, the slogan is “you’ll feel like family.” And since the first Country Grocer opened in Nanaimo in 1984, that’s exactly how staff strive to make customers feel. That extra effort to get to know their customers is what helps set them apart.

  On the grocer’s website, there’s even a section called “Country Kudos,” where customers can recognize employees who deliver outstanding customer service. One recent entry read: “I wanted to let you know that Jeff and Murray over at Esquimalt Country Grocer went above and beyond the call of duty for my 83 year old mother today. My mom is blind and can no longer shop on her own. On top of this, she just got out of the hospital and had no way of getting food for the long weekend. Murray and Jeff arranged to deliver food to her within the course of an hour and now my mom has nutritious food to last her for the weekend. Special thanks to Murray for making my mom feel like part of the neighbourhood. When he dropped off the food at her apartment, he recognized her as a regular Country Grocer shopper for the past 20 years. Thank you Murray and Jeff!”

3. When a TELUS call centre representative received a query from an elderly customer in Victoria asking for help programming her phone so she could use the speed dial feature, there was a seemingly simple solution: the phone’s operation manual was available online. But there was a slight hitch; the customer did not own a computer, nor did she have access to one. The customer service rep, Jay Dey, had an idea. A creative problem solver at heart, Jay made a copy of the phone manual and then made a surprise visit to the customer’s house to help take her through the steps of programming the phone. But Jay wasn’t done; during his visit he spoke with the customer about her phone package and realized he could help simplify her long-distance plan so it better matched her needs. By the time he left, she had a new, less expensive phone plan, a phone manual and she was ready to make her first speed-dial call.

4. Kris bought an Apple MacBook Air at Future Shop (now Best Buy) in Victoria several years ago. Not long ago, he upgraded to OS X Mountain Lion and completely reinstalled his operating system. But he soon realized iLife, which included GarageBand, iMovie, iPhoto wasn’t included in the package, so took to Twitter asking how to get a legal copy of GarageBand. After getting no response, he tweeted @FutureShop and the staff immediately responded.

Two days later the Victoria Future Shop manager made a generous offer to Kris: drop by with his laptop and the staff would install it for him. It was a great example of exceptional customer service, but there was just one problem: Kris was now living in Ontario.

The Victoria store manager wasn’t about to give up. “The next day he emailed me to give me the name of the manager and Head of Technical Services at the Future Shop there, telling me he spoke with them and they would install iLife for me if I brought my laptop in,” wrote Kris on upsell.com, where he shared his story of exceptional customer service. “I brought it in and 30 minutes later I walked out with iLife installed. All it cost me was a smile and a handshake, which I was eager to provide.”

5. A Vancouver dad named Justin bought his young son the 717-piece “Jabba’s Palace” Star Wars Lego set for Christmas. His son was ecstatic and after enjoying a turkey dinner they spent the entire evening together building the epic set. They went to sleep feeling tired and satisfied. But they left the completed Lego structure too close to the gas fireplace, and when they woke up, one side was badly warped. His son was devastated, so Justin immediately emailed Lego Customer Support a list of the damaged pieces they needed and asked if it was possible to order the replacement parts. Less than a week later, a Lego package arrived with all the pieces, free of charge. Dad and son have been loyal Lego builders ever since.

Legendary customer service shouldn’t be hard to come by. More and more, we’re seeing great companies focus on their customer experiences and these five stories are stellar examples.