The Top 10
Customer Service Stories for 2019
If you are looking to improve your customer service, you needn’t look any further than these 10 fantastic customer service stories from 2019 for inspiration. This year’s picks are a great illustration of the absolute core of customer service – genuinely caring about the people you serve.
We had over 100 great stories from last year to choose from. Narrowing them down to a top-ten list was truly a challenge, but I think you’ll agree that it represents some pretty special people doing some pretty special things.
About our Top 10 Customer Service Stories list
We’ve been collecting customer service stories for over fifteen years. My company specializes in customer service training, leadership training and workplace culture development, and these experiences are invaluable in illustrating what outstanding customer service looks like — and what leaders should strive for. Several years ago, we decided to start ranking them, and sharing the top 10 best and worst experiences of the previous year.
In the interests of complete transparency, there are two things to note about this list:
- The number of customer service interactions around the world number in the billions each week. We probably missed a few.
- The ranking between numbers 1-10 is completely subjective, and a couple of times came down to the flip of a coin. Feel free to disagree! Well, maybe except for #1. It’s awesome.
The Year of the Restaurant
2019 was “the year of the restaurant” as far as high-profile customer service stories go. A special shout-out needs to go to Chic-fil-A, who made it on this list not once, but twice!
I hope you find these examples of great customer service as useful, enlightening and inspiring as we do! Here are the winners, presented in order from number ten to number one.
Small Gestures With a Big Impact
I really like this story because it shows how outstanding customer service isn’t as much about going ‘above and beyond’ as it Is just genuinely caring about people.
Tammy Stauffer-Jacobsen had stopped at a McDonalds in Langley, British Columbia to pick up a coffee for herself and her husband. They were on their way back from her father-in-law’s funeral and, emotionally overwhelmed, Tammy was struggling to order. The young man behind the counter saw her distress and simply pulled out his own employee card and paid for the drinks himself. When Tammy began to cry, he stepped from behind the counter to give her a hug. A brief, kind, wonderful gesture. And a moment that won’t be forgotten.
The On-Ramp to Customer Service
One of the hallmarks of outstanding customer service is caring more about our customers than we do their wallets. The #9 spot has equal credit going to Ameren Illinois and their employee, Eric Daniels, for looking beyond a customer’s electrical needs.
When Eric was installing a smart meter in a home, he noticed that his customer had some serious mobility challenges. He asked the man if he could use a ramp, knowing that Ameren Illinois would sometimes install them to help their customers out. When the customer said yes, not only did Eric arrange for the ramp, but kept following up until it was finally installed.
The thing is, Ameren Illinois isn’t in the ramp business. Following-up on ramp installation doesn’t likely show up in Eric’s job description. But is clear that both the company and the employee are in the customer service business. Well done.
Sometimes You Just Have to Sit on the Floor
18-year-old Jacob Tayler didn’t hesitate when a young, autistic girl began to suffer from sensory overload in the Clarks shoe store in Bicester, England. After asking the mother’s permission, he simply sat down on the floor beside the girl and patiently began to talk and listen. He gave her 100% attention, and gently explained everything. His actions made a huge difference, and didn’t go unnoticed. A later tweet from his tremendously proud father went viral, with 108k likes, a thousand comments and over ten thousand retweets.
One of the four myths of customer service is that we should “treat people the same way that we would like to be treated.” Jacob’s actions were a wonderful demonstration of how important it is to, in fact, understand our customers, and then treat them the way that they like to be treated.
Customer Service: The Musical!
It’s every parent’s nightmare. You’re at the grocery store checkout with your two children, and your one-year-old chooses that moment to throw a tantrum. Apparently, however, it’s not nearly so scary when it happens at the Altamonte, Florida Trader Joe’s.
Led by employee Tori Alexander, the Trader Joe’s team broke into a “We love you Ju” song and dance for the little boy, Julian. The mother, Alexandra Seba, caught the impromptu performance on video.
Stop the tantrum? Check. Get the groceries checked out? Check. Have a lot of fun in the process? Check. Create a customer service moment that nobody will forget? Check.
When a Drive-Thru Becomes a Jump-Thru
This is the first of two wonderful Chick-fil-A experiences that hit our list of top 10 best customer service stories, and it’s a doozy. 19-year-old Logan Simmons, a manager in Flowery Branch Georgia, dramatically illustrated the importance of awareness, customer-focus and initiative.
When he saw a 6-year-old boy choking on a seat belt in the back seat, Logan actually climbed through the drive-thru window to get to the car, then used his pocket-knife to cut the boy free. He had seen the distress he was in, and his quick actions saved a life.
Would You Like a McJoke With That?
I love people who find a way to have fun in their jobs — and help the people around them have fun too. Number 5 on our list, out of Morgantown, West Virginia reminds me of a person I talk about in my keynote presentations – a delightful woman who works in a toll both on Houston’s beltway.
This story is about McDonald’s employee, Melissa Fichtner. who makes a point to put a smile on everybody’s face — everybody who goes through her drive-thru at least. How does she do it? How else? By telling a joke to everyone who comes into her line.
According to the McDonald’s manager, customers are constantly praising Melissa for bringing a bright light to their days, and many claim to be visiting the restaurant just to hear her jokes. Her attitude rubs off on her colleagues as well. Imagine if everyone in customer service made that kind of effort.
Saying “No” Just Wasn’t Good Enough
The Corpus Christi, Texas technician, Emmanuel Rox, was installing cable at Alana Manrow’s new house when Alana asked about the remote. She had significant vision impairment, she told him, and often struggled to see the buttons. She wanted to know if he could get her a remote with larger ones.
The company didn’t have a suitable remote, but Emmanuel did have an idea. The very next day he showed up at her house with a large, laminated printout of her remote so it would be easy to see. And he hadn’t stopped there. He also created printouts of her oven and microwave – which she also mentioned having difficulty with.
What I like about this story is that Emmanuel didn’t just take the easy way out. He didn’t just settle for “no” as so often happens. And even though he couldn’t give a customer what she wanted, he found a way to give her what she needed – and more.
Building Friendships With Lego
Ki-Jana “KJ” Upshaw changes the linens in the 82 rooms at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. It’s an important job, but not one where we might expect to find a beautiful customer service story. Yet here it is at number three on our list.
KJ had noticed that two of the young patients had a thing for Lego (but then, who doesn’t?). The strict isolation rules of the hospital prevented him from bringing them together physically, so he decided to bring them together in spirit, with him as the liaison. KJ would sit and chat with each boy for a few minutes each day, passing messages along, and telling them about the things the other is building.
Not only did KJ make the long days a whole lot more enjoyable for the boys, he also helped them forge a friendship that went beyond their stay in the hospital.
The root of customer service is Caring, and KJ cared enough to make a lifelong difference. That’s pretty special.
A Walmart Employee Pays it Forward
A single mother of three in Gardner, Massachusetts realized that she couldn’t pay for her car repair. It was a problem because she was a Home Health Aid worker, and her clients relied on her being able to get to them.
Walmart employee, Lisa Smith, empathized with the customer’s position. She’d been there herself, and wanted to help — so she covered the remaining $140 of the customer’s bill. Needless to say, the customer was overwhelmed by Lisa’s kindness. But when she said that she would return the next week to pay her back, Lisa told her not to worry about it.
It’s a beautiful story on its own, but the really inspiring part is that the customer come back in with the money anyway – so that Lisa could use it for the next person in need. Kindness breeds kindness, and this is a great example of how much of a difference it makes.
A Great Reason to go to Wilmington, North Carolina
I’ve never been to Wilmington, North Carolina, but it is now on my bucket list. More specifically, to visit a Chick-fil-A restaurant there. The top customer service story of the year was no contest. It’s about a young man, Jeremiah Murrill, who has made this Chick-fil-A famous.
What makes this story so remarkable is that it’s not about someone who did something special for a customer. It’s about someone who does something special for every customer — every time. I suspect that it would simply be impossible to visit this Chick-fil-A and not feel wonderful after an encounter with Jeremiah Murrill.
Jeremiah embodies everything that has ever been taught in every customer service training course in the history of the planet. The video of him that appeared in December already has over 500,000 Likes on Facebook, has been shared thousands of times, and needs to be mandatory for everyone in customer service to watch.
Here’s the kicker: The things that Jeremiah does are absolutely, 100% reproducible. There is no magic to them. We could all be like Jeremiah if we choose to make the effort — If we choose to truly care about each customer, and if we genuinely want to make a difference in other people’s lives. There is, in fact, no compelling reason I can think of for anyone to not make this man their role-model for customer service.
In Jeremiah’s version of customer service everybody wins. Customers feel good, the company gets more customers, colleagues get some inspiration — and is there anyone who doubts that Jeremiah has a bright future?
We decided to include a couple of honorable mentions in this year’s list. They are great stories, but didn’t really qualify because they were a bit of a role-reversal – with customers doing wonderful things for employees.
Honorable Mention #1: Self-Serve?
Ben was working the night shift at a Birmingham, Alabama Waffle House. There were 25 customers in the restaurant and none of the other restaurant employees had shown up. He was on his own. Seeing his situation, three customers got up to help – washing dishes, busing, taking orders and making coffee. An awesome moment from an awesome community.
Honorable Mention #2: Christmas Comes to Rockfort
You think people don’t notice when you deliver consistently great customer experiences? Think again. Customers of a Rockford, Illinois store appreciated one employee so much that they got together to give her a wonderful Christmas surprise from her customers.