If you’re recovering from a recent customer service nightmare, which is the reality for way too many, then rest your weary eyes here for some heart-warming examples of exceptional customer service that will restore your hope in the human race and hopefully give you the patience to wait in line or stay on hold once again sometime soon.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007 The Wall Street Journal wrote an article on United Airlines Captain Denny Flanagan. Here is an excerpt:
“When pets travel in cargo compartments, the United Airlines veteran snaps pictures of them with his cell phone camera, then shows owners that their animals are on board. In the air, he has flight attendants raffle off 10% discount coupons and unopened bottles of wine. He writes notes to first-class passengers and elite-level frequent fliers on the back of his business cards, addressing them by name and thanking them for their business. If flights are delayed or diverted to other cities because of storms, Capt. Flanagan tries to find a McDonald’s where he can order 200 hamburgers, or a snack shop that has apples or bananas he can hand out.
And when unaccompanied children are on his flights, he personally calls parents with reassuring updates. “I picked up the phone and he said, ‘This is the captain from your son’s flight,’ ” said Kenneth Klein, whose 12-year-old son was delayed by thunderstorms in Chicago last month on a trip from Los Angeles to see his grandfather in Toronto. “It was unbelievable. One of the big problems is kids sit on planes and no one tells you what’s happening, and this was the exact opposite.”
I bought a Nintendo Wii U on launch day. Every day since then, excepting the two weeks I was on vacation, it has been lovingly used in our house. It has traveled to spread the gospel of Nintendo-style gaming in the homes of friends and relatives. It has been lent out as the star of children’s birthday parties. And all this time, its optical drive was a little louder than I liked, but I thought maybe they were all that way.
Over the past few weeks it started getting louder. I knew I should get it looked at. It wasn’t damaging game discs, but it was really annoying when the vibration noise was louder than the game sounds. I just hated the idea of explaining to my 6 year old that it would be out for a few weeks getting repaired. I finally resolved to send it in over this coming weekend, when we had lots of outdoor outings planned.
So I called the Nintendo customer service telephone number, located right there on their web site (you would be surprised how many companies, and especially repair departments, don’t list their phone number on the web). The message telling me I had to wait for a Customer Service Representative didn’t even finish playing before a rep was on the line. I explained my problem and she said she’d get me an Return Material Authorization (RMA) right away to get it fixed.
She asked for my phone number. I gave it to her. She did a bit of a verbal double take and said, “Are you here in Washington?”
“I’m in Redmond, as a matter of fact [location of Nintendo of America’s campus],” I replied.
“Well then, let’s not bother with the RMA and the shipping labels and all of that. Just bring it on in to Nintendo,” she said.
She assured me she was not kidding. She gave me directions to the Nintendo campus building where the Customer Service Center was located, and five minutes later I was looking at an unassuming door. I took a deep breath, told my son to hold on to the Wii with both hands, for goodness’ sake, and opened the door.
A life-size Mario and a larger-than-life Pikachu greeted us. So did a really nice, cheerful woman behind the sales counter. I related my telephone conversation to her, still certain that I’d been had.
“Oh, yeah!” she said. “We do that!”
“Awesome,” I blurted. I really did say “Awesome.” I’m embarrassed about that now.
“It’s going to be about 30 minutes, though,” she went on. “I’m really sorry.”
She wasn’t Japanese, but clearly Nintendo is a Japanese company. Only a Japanese service center would apologize for taking 30 minutes to repair a piece of electronics when my expectation going in was that I’d be without it for two weeks.
The boy played games in the waiting area while I sat under the watchful eye of Mario. 25 minutes later I saw her emerge from the back room out of the corner of my eye, but I was watching the boy playing a particularly suspenseful level of Wario Ware Twist. She waited until she heard the “level complete” sound to get my attention.
In those 25 minutes, they had transferred all of my Miis, friends, and saved games from the old console to a new one. She logged on to make sure my 500 points transferred to the shopping channel. She sent me out with a $0.00 invoice showing a warranty replacement of my Wii and a reset of the warranty clock, meaning the Wii I took home has 15 months of coverage from today, even though I bought my original one almost 3 months ago.
So this is my Valentine to Nintendo. That was the most awesome customer service experience I ever, ever had.
One bright, extraordinary note in all of the sad stuff of the last few weeks. In May we had ordered several pairs of shoes from Zappos for my mom. She’d lost a lot of weight, and her old shoes were all too big. She had a whole new wardrobe of clothes in pretty colors, that fit, so I wanted her to have some pretty shoes that fit, too, when I took her up to Oregon to stay where her sister is. Out of seven pairs, only two fit. Not bad considering she’d never been this thin, so I was winging it, and the return shipping is free.
The rest were here waiting to be returned. Because of various circumstances – lost label, my mom being hospitalized and me being away, the shoes were never sent back. There’s a time limit on the return of 15 days. Remember this. When you do a return to them, they pay the shipping, but you have to get the shoes to UPS yourself. Remember this, also.
When I came home this last time, I had an email from Zappos asking about the shoes, since they hadn’t received them. I was just back and not ready to deal with that, so I replied that my mom had died but that I’d send the shoes as soon as I could. They emailed back that they had arranged with UPS to pick up the shoes, so I wouldn’t have to take the time to do it myself. I was so touched. That’s going against corporate policy.
Yesterday, when I came home from town, a florist deliveryman was just leaving. It was a beautiful arrangement in a basket with white lilies and roses and carnations. Big and lush and fragrant. I opened the card, and it was from Zappos. I burst into tears. I’m a sucker for kindness, and if that isn’t one of the nicest things I’ve ever had happen to me, I don’t know what is.
Great customer service still exists. Please do your part and share your customer service success story with someone today.