Motorway by Dan Metcalfe

In a jungle of endless “please hold for the next available customer service rep”, confusing phone menu trees, and brief, poorly written email exchanges acting as guides along the journey we recently burst into a pool of cool calming customer first waters. “Enough with the metaphors Techlife, I come for the meat and potatoes of these columns. ” Hey that’s a meta- nevermind. People, the energy behind change, have begun to make small shifts in their behavior at work. Each small shift is a positive push toward improving the customer experience.

A little over three years ago Techlife’s 1,000 Loyal Customers seeded the idea of thinking about the loyal customer, instead of always seeking the new customer. We followed it up with How To Provide Amazing Support detailing  not just the “how” but also a bit of the “why.” After sending these ideas into the jungle, a funny thing happened. People remarked, “Hey, that’s not a new idea.” Of course they were right, old ideas are often good places to look for ways to deliver new experiences. Here are personal stories of how companies are providing unique experiences on old ideas.

New faster Internet for FREE – yes please

Good ideas tend to stick around and good customer experience is seeing a resurgence. Comcast, yes that Comcast, the one people loathe and complain and fill internet forums with horror stories contacted me, an existing customer. They offered me free of charge a new higher speed modem with a built in router. The new modem would allow me to access their faster internet speeds and not cost anything additional. I accepted. The package would arrive in 6-8 weeks. It arrived in two weeks. Surprise again! Then the hook up was painless and easy, surprise number three.

Vrooom! Try our best toys

A local RC car store with an indoor track trains employees to make the customer happy with a simple program. They empower the teenage staff to let customers of all ages try expensive remote control cars, even though most parents just purchase $25 cars. The goal is clearly to remove any barriers and excite customers while bucking the “you break it, you buy it” philosophy. It was a lot of fun for kids and adults. Customers love the store and want to return. Best of all the store spends next to nothing on store decor and puts all their efforts into customer service.

It’s been 4 years – We still love you this week sent me an email apologizing that a local certificate I purchased in 2009 was no longer valid because the local restaurant stopped participating in their program. The funny thing is, I thought I lost the certificate and forgot I had used to purchase it, plus they already had my money. They owed me nothing.  But by contacting me more than 4 years later with nothing more than, “You should choose another gift certificate ours never expire” I went back to their site, saw all the advancements they have made including a cool smart phone app that ditches the need for printed paper.

Each of these examples has the “don’t be a dumb consumer, there’s something else at work” side. But we are smart consumers who know that if Comcast gives me a new modem, I will stick with them and maybe even upgrade to a faster speed. If an adult or child plays with an expensive RC car it might turn into a birthday wish list, which results in an $85 remote control car purchase. If is eager to bring back a long time customer they use honesty while also getting to show off all the new features and maybe generate more purchases.

These three examples are great, but in the past six months I have heard of many more. Readers have shared airline successes, mobile carrier wins, toy stores making kids happy, doctors who go the extra mile, and even janitors who help well outside of their realm.  What are some of the best examples you have seen and experienced?