Customer Experience News & Trends

3 tales of truly outstanding online customer service

Online service can’t deliver the personal punch that a phone call or in-person visit can. But if it’s done right, it can build customer loyalty.

Email, live chat, text or SMS messages are all the rage for convenience. Personal, customer satisfaction-building care, not so much.

But not all hope is lost. Hundreds of great messages between companies and their customers go viral every day — not just negative messages the likes of “United Breaks Guitars” YouTube videos and sleeping Comcast techs.

We can learn a lot from the positive messages and put the companies that sent them.

Here are four keys to delivering outstanding online service:

1. Be creative

Anyone can send a standard “we’ll replace your part” message — and customers will be satisfied. Get creative and speak directly to your customer (not the masses with a scripted message) and you can count on loyalty.

Case in point. A seven-year-old boy lost a Lego piece he’d saved his Christmas money to buy. He emailed the company, asking for a replacement. Easy, basic response. But this Lego customer service rep got creative (and it went viral):

  • “Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan … Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your dad.”

2. Be willing

As with more personal service over the phone or in person, reps providing online help need to do something beyond the call of duty sometimes.

Legend has it a Zappos rep working at one of its call centers found a nearby pizza joint for a caller in another state one night. Well, it’s not exactly legend. I heard Zappos founder Tony Hsieh relay the story.

The caller’s friends heard that agents of Zappos — an online shoe and apparel retailer — will help with anything within their means. To prove this theory, they decided to contact the rep late at night after some reveling for pizza help. The agent looked up their city, found a pizza joint close to their location and sent it to them. Much more than expected!

3. Be sensitive

Not all online interactions are fun, silly or tests of wackiness. Some have real, tough emotions involved. A sincere concern can be sent through email, too.

For instance, a Groupon customer service rep received a chat inquiry one evening that simply asked if anyone was there. The rep replied he was, but thought maybe the message was meant for someone else. That wasn’t the case. The customer was feeling down about a break-up, knew that Groupon reps always answered chats personally and wanted to see if that was the case. The rep wrote back he was there, was a White Sox fan and felt bad about the break-up. That — and the rep’s gift card offer — made the customer feel better.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.