Yesterday I offered a brief profile of a customer service train-wreck. In the end, everyone loses, including yours truly.

Today we’re on to happier times, a case of customer service that goes far beyond serving the customer.

How many times has this happened to you?

  1. You notice Product A on sale. You have enough Product A at home, so you pass.
  2. Now it’s been two days since you ran out of Product A, and you’re back. Remembering the sale you head to that aisle…
  3. … $%&! where is it? I can’t believe they ran out of Product A!
  4. You ask an employee to check in the back, hoping that today’s you’re lucky day…

At this point, I was expecting a letdown. When you see a popular item is gone, it probably means the store ran out. If it was so popular and they still had inventory, the shelf wouldn’t be empty, right? So what happened next took my breath away.

“Yeah… that’s too bad… I’ve tried ordering that item three times in the past week, and our warehouse has been out every time. But since we don’t have it, I’ll give you Product B for free.”

Wait… what?!?!

In this case, Product B was identical to Product A in every way except 1) It was twice as large as Product A, and 2) It cost more than twice as much as Product A.

“Thank you so much! Are you sure, you’re going to simply give this larger jar to me for free? That’s incredible!” I restrained myself from saying “awesome,” but if ever there was an awesome experience in retail, this was it.

“You’re welcome! Just show them the sticker so they don’t scan it. Have a nice day!”

What made this gesture so powerful was that it was completely unexpected and spontaneous. I go to this store a lot, and I don’t see anyone walking around with a scorecard with the heading, “How many times have I been spontaneous this week?” Excellent Customer Service doesn’t work that way: it needs to come from the heart.

Effective Customer Service, on the other hand, means responding to your customer’s challenges and solving them… but no more. When we advance to the realm of the Extraordinary, we solve their original challenge and their next five challenges all at the same time. Or we quickly solve their challenge and then help them derive other benefits from our service, even if it means fewer dollars in our pocket today.

In your company, do you wait for customers to encounter problems before you jump in and solve them? Excellent Customer Service has nothing to do with reacting and responding, and everything to do with attention and understanding.

Almost every other time that I’ve run into a situation with Product A and Product B, the employee will apologize that they’re out.. and then they’ll offer to order me a unit of Product A for pickup at a later date.

No! This is the correct response by-the-book, but with this answer you just missed an opportunity to create a customer for life! Don’t offer me a solution that makes me do additional work at some point in the future to receive a supposedly equal benefit.

I challenge you to provide a solution that multiplies my benefit, immediately.

Game On.


Products A and B from above happened to be different brands of Coconut Oil. This post is best enjoyed while nibbling some Chocolate Walnut Fudge.


For another look at two of my favorite companies who understand Customer Service inside and out, please enjoy my previous post For Those Who Serve.