We’ve all seen them. Viral customer service stories gone either terribly wrong or perfectly right. It’s a fine line for brands to walk, but if serving customers on social media is a priority, then consider yourself in the running for a customer service experience gone viral. And if you’re not afraid to get just a bit creative with your customer service, your chances for viral customer care success are much more likely.
We’ve picked the most imaginative, generous, responsive, heartwarming, and humorous viral customer service stories, and put them together to show what lessons can be learned from these innovations. Have a look and have a laugh, but don’t forget to put theory into practice. It’s time for customer care to get real.
Use A Little Imagination (Lego)
7-year-old Luka Apps was very upset after losing his favorite Christmas present, a Jay ZX Lego character, when it fell out of his coat pocket at the grocery store. Luka decided to write an email to the company, explaining what had happened, and asking shyly for a replacement, while promising never to lose Jay ZX again.
Rather than writing off the situation as the customer’s fault, a Lego customer service representative promptly replied to Luka, saying he “put a call into Sensei Wu to see if he could help me. He told me to tell you ‘Luka… you must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu!’” He then sent Luka a replacement figure, along with accessories and another figure for Jay ZX to battle. Needless to say, Luka was over the moon, and the story became a big hit when his father shared it on social media. It’s a touching example of how great customer care makes a brand lovable.
Lesson: Personal, responsive customer care with a touch of charming imagination inspires love and loyalty.
Go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (KLM)
The airline combined a new physical presence at airports in Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and New York City, in the form of a glass pavilion open to passing travelers. In addition, they had dozens of social customer service agents combing Twitter for customer issues across multiple airlines, not limited to KLM. In New York City, they even hired a speed boat on the Hudson to help anyone who risked missing their flight — whether or not it was with KLM — because they were stuck in traffic. The airline also had film crews record footage of customer reactions and post them to YouTube.
The result? The campaign went viral, with millions of views and shares from around the world, helping to establish KLM as a leader in innovative customer care.
Lesson: Excellent customer care and ROI are not an exact equation. Thinking generously, and being a valuable, helpful voice in the community will pay off in spades.
When The Customer Speaks, Listen
When Mike McCready, a Digital & Social Marketing Consultant, checked into a Delta Hotel in Vancouver for the #PSEWEB conference, he was disappointed with the ugly view of air ducts from his room. He tweeted a picture of the view, without even adding the Delta Hotels Twitter handle, and within an hour Delta Hotels tweeted back, asking how they could help. When Mike returned to his room later that afternoon, he found a note from the staff apologizing that suites weren’t available on the higher floors. Included with the note were cookies, and the promise to take care of his next booking in Vancouver.
Mike, who is now sure to be a life-long customer, posted the story on LinkedIn, generating thousands of views. This really shows the value of listening and engaging with customers, whenever and wherever. It also represents the power of customer care software, as Delta was able to follow Mike’s posts, even though they weren’t mentioned.
Lesson: Your customers are talking, and it’s up to you to join the conversation.
When Peter Shankman was boarding an afternoon flight from Florida to New Jersey, he jokingly tweeted to Morton’s Steakhouse in Newark that it would be great if they could meet him at the airport in two hours with a Porterhouse steak. You can imagine his surprise when he landed and saw a man in a tuxedo holding a Morton’s bag. Inside was a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, bread, napkins, and silverware. Not only was Peter thrilled, but Twitter was very excited about it after he posted the story, which was widely shared. What a way for a brand to use digital channels to truly fulfil their customers’ wishes.
Lesson: Delight your customers, and they will be brand advocates for life.
Be Heartwarming (Orange)
In Winter 2011, Orange launched an innovative, heartwarming Twitter campaign. When customers tweeted that their friends in London were having a bad day, an Orange representative would drive to their house or office to deliver a cup of steaming hot chocolate and a warm wool scarf. The campaign not only generated many happy customers, it stirred up plenty of positive sentiment via Twitter, and thousands of views on YouTube. It’s a key example of innovative online and offline integration.
Lesson: A strategic blend of marketing and customer care, both on social media and offline, can be a powerful tool.
Add A Touch of Humor (Hubspot)
If you’ve ever tried to unsubscribe from HubSpot’s email notifications, you’ve noticed that they have a hilarious “it’s not you, it’s me” message that manages to provoke a few laughs while also advertising that customers can stay in touch with HubSpot through other channels, like Facebook and Twitter. It’s a light-hearted concept demonstrating that communication channels are the customer’s choice, not the company’s. And even if it doesn’t get you to change your mind about the email notifications, it reminds you that the people at HubSpot are pretty cool.
Lesson: A touch of humor can instantly separate your brand from the pack. And, you should always serve your customers on the channels they prefer.