Posted by Jessica Render on Mar 21, 2017
Jessica Render

What does it take to rank in the proverbial customer service hall of fame? Here are five companies that get it right, and some key takeaways you can start applying to your own business today.

Nordstrom

There’s somewhat of an urban legend surrounding Nordstrom’s customer service policy that claims the company’s employee handbook consists of one line and one line only: “Use your good judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.”

While the real manual is, in fact, more traditional in length and content, the rumor wasn’t entirely without merit, as it does reflect the heart of the company’s philosophy.

By focusing on hiring the right people, Nordstrom is able to trust its employees and empower them use that “good judgment” in doing what’s best for the customer (because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, right?).

Nordstrom CEO Blake Nordstrom says a “best in class” mindset is best done away with in favor of a policy to do what’s best customer.

“[The customer is] constantly raising the bar, and since they are setting the standard, we’re continually resetting ours upwards,” he explained.

Takeaway: Empower your employees to take the action they see necessary to serve the customer.

Amazon

“We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.” — Jeff Bezos.

Amazon has spent the better part of three decades perfecting customer personalization by providing a unique experience to each user who visits the site that gets more specific each time they visit with curated suggestions based on past interactions with the site.

Amazon’s dedication to truly understanding their customers spans to every level of the organization. Bezos even initiated a requirement that all managers be trained in the call-center to better understand the needs of the consumer.

Takeaway: Adopt a customer-centric mindset instead of a product-centric mindset.

Zappos

Zappos is universally known for their standout customer service. In fact, their number one core value asks customers to “deliver WOW through service.”

Some of those “WOW-moments” have included requesting shoes marked for return be donated to charity instead, delivering flowers to customers going through a difficult time, and honoring a technical glitch that saw its products marked down by as much as 97% (a decision that reportedly cost the company well over a million dollars).

Whether it’s a $50 bouquet or a million dollar glitch, Zappos stands firm in the belief that you can put a price on customer happiness and they certainly know how to drive engagement and build loyalty.

Takeaway: Look for opportunities to deliver wow-moments to drive loyalty.

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is focused on what they refer to as “Second Mile Service.”

Kristin Hunter, a marketing consultant with the restaurant explains it like this, “The first mile is the foundation — good customer service, hot food hot, cold food cold. The second mile is what we do that’s remarkable.”

Some of those second-mile things include staff being trained to say “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome,” referring to customers by name, not a number, carrying customers’ trays to their table for them and even checking in mid-meal, something you don’t often get on the fast-food level.

Takeaway: Go the extra mile for your customers.

Buffer

The Buffer support team is broken up into three parts, the Happiness Heroes, the Weekend Warriors and the Community Champions. According to the team, Heroes and Warriors focus on largely traditional, reactive customer service methods, but the key to their Champions team lies in finding ways to be proactive.

The team’s job description varies, but is summarized succinctly, and perhaps even poetically by Buffer Community Champion Nicole Miller:

“I send out love to our customers all day.”

Miller goes on to explain that the role often includes engaging with customers on social media, content marketing efforts and simply finding ways to surprise and delight customers, like with hand-written snail mail notes.

“We want our customers to know we are listening and we value them.”

10 Buffer Values

1. Choose Positivity and Happiness
2. Default to Transparency
3. Have a Focus on Self Improvement
4. Be a “no-ego” Doer
5. Listen First, Then Listen More
6. Have a Bias Towards Clarity
7. Make Time to Reflect
8. Live Smarter, Not Harder
9. Show Gratitude
10. Do The Right Thing

Takeaway: Be proactive, not reactive.