How to be Successful in Retail: Customer Service All Stars

I love great customer service stories.  They are inspirational and they embody what good business is about: delivering on a promise, honoring one's word, and focusing on the big picture instead of the short term impact of a decision.

There are customer service all stars everywhere and in every type of business.  Below are great customer service stories from some customer service all stars.  Each of these individuals is extremely successful because they bring the "How does this make the customer happy?" mentality to everything that they do.  Each story is an excerpt from each of these all stars's books.
Gary Vaynerchuk (from Crush It!):

          There was one year where I found out that a customer in Westchester, New York, hadn't received her case of White Zinfandel.  It was December 22 and there was no way FedEx was going to deliver the wine in time for Christmas.  My ordering department had received the complaint, but because the customer was neither a regular nor the order particularly large, they hadn't brought it to my attention.  By the time I got wind of the problem there was only one thing left to do.  I threw a case of White Zinfandel in my car and drove three hours in blinding snow to the woman's house.  Did I mention that she lived in another state? That it was our busiest time of the year?  That my time was much more valuable in the store during those six round-trip hours? And believe me, there was no angle.  The customer was an older woman who lived far away and wasn't about to start hosting a lot of parties and using us as her exclusive wine supplier.
          Yet I knew that it was up to me to set the tone at the store, and that this was a a perfect way to do it.  Our corporate culture was cemented the day I delivered the case of wine to that woman.
Danny Meyer (from Setting the Table):
...One night when we'd closed Tabla for a private party, a couple walked in for dinner. "What do you mean, you're closed?" The man asked Richard Coraine, who was then acting as Tabla's general manager. "Then why did one of your people take our reservation for tonight?" To make matters much worse, they had driven 250 miles from New Hampshire just to eat at Tabla. Richard was in a tough spot. Obviously, he couldn't seat them. Frustrated and angry, the couple stormed out and heded uptown along Madison avenue.
          For one very long minute, Richard and his maitre d' sat mortified and wondered what they should do. Suddenly, they had a solution. They bolted out of the restaurant and sprinted up Madison Avenue, catching up with the couple a few blocks away. "We're so sorry about the situation at Tabla," Richard told them. "We want you to come back soon." He gave them a gift certificate for a future dinner at Tabla. He next called Gramercy Tavern on his cell phone to make sure there was a table available immediately, and he offered to buy them their dinner that night. They accepted, and the maitre d' walked them to the restaurant...and made sure that they would be very well cared for.
          Later Richard handwrote them a note in which he reiterated his apology. The couple kept up a correspondence with him and eventually became regulars at Tabla, making the 500 mile round-trip nearly every month for dinner.
Tony Hsieh (from Delivering Happiness):
...I was in Santa Monica, California, a few years ago at a Skechers sales conference. After a long night of bar-hopping, a small group of us headed up to someone’s hotel room to order some food. My friend from Skechers tried to order a pepperoni pizza from the room-service menu, but was disappointed to learn that the hotel we were staying at did not deliver hot food after 11:00 PM. We had missed the deadline by several hours.
          In our inebriated state, a few of us cajoled her into calling Zappos to try to order a pizza. She took us up on our dare, turned on the speakerphone, and explained to the (very) patient Zappos rep that she was staying in a Santa Monica hotel and really craving a pepperoni pizza, that room service was no longer delivering hot food, and that she wanted to know if there was anything Zappos could do to help.
          The Zappos rep was initially a bit confused by the request, but she quickly recovered and put us on hold. She returned two minutes later, listing the five closest places in the Santa Monica area that were still open and delivering pizzas at that time.
Jack Mitchell (from Hug Your Customers):
...a client of ours had phoned from his office and desperately needed a navy blue cashmere topcoat. He was going to an important acquisition meeting...and when he checked his closet, it turned out that his sons had swiped all his coats when they went off to college...The forecast was for cold temperatures and heavy snow, and his meeting would require him to do a fair bit of walking...so it was imperative that he have a coat in navy blue.
          I called the store, only to learn that we had sold out of navy cashmere coats in size 42, the man's size. But we did have a light gray one...I promptly got in touch with our two topcoat resources...They both had navy cashmere topcoats in stock and promised to overnight them to the store.  Then I called the client's secretary and told her Domenic and I were on our way over. When we got there, we schlepped the garment bags to the third floor. The manager jumped up from his desk and said, "Where's my blue topcoat?" I calmly opened the garment bags and slipped the gray topcoat on him. Naturally, he immediately said, "Jack, this is gray." He was annoyed...
          "I know," I said. "Like you at your company, we like to turn all of our product at least three times, and we've sold all the blue ones. We're getting two in tomorrow."
          "Can't wait, can't wait!" he screamed..."Where are they coming from?"
          "Just calm down," I said. "You can wait until tomorrow. I'll meet you in New York City..." Some other people were waiting to see him, so his secretary brought in our coats so we could leave, and here's where the hug came. I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but it struck me that my topcoat was a navy blue cashmere...size 42. I said to the man, "Put this on."
          It fit perfectly.  He jumped up and down in glee. I said to him, "Tell you what, we'll lease my coat to you for a day or two."
          He loved the idea. "Wow, Mitchells is in the leasing business, just like we are," he said.
It is worth noting that two of these stories are about the all stars themselves delivering great service, while two are about employees within the all stars's organizations delivering great service.  Part of being a customer service all star is enabling others to be customer service all stars.

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