iStock_000020517815XSmallI’m always fascinated by the customer service hero stories that emerge in the media. Take for instance LEGO’s recent hero story which involved a request to replace a minifigure that costs about $6. If you haven’t heard or read about it yet, a seven-year-old Great Britain boy named Luka Apps wrote to LEGO after he lost his Ninjago Jay ZX figure while shopping with his dad. Luka had saved his Christmas money to buy the set. His email read:
My name is Luka Apps and I am seven years old.
With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kit of the Ultrasonic Raider. The number is 9449. It is really good.
My Daddy just took me to Sainsburys and told me to leave the people at home but I took them and I lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat.
I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you a email to see if you will send me another one.
I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.
Most brands I’m sure receive a lot of letters like this asking for replacements of things that were lost or broken by accident, and I’m sure out of time and cost constraints, a lot are ignored. It’s understandable.
What created LEGO’s customer service hero story was not just the big brand being generous enough to replace the minifigure for free, but the email the LEGO customer service rep wrote back:
I told Sensei Wu that losing your Jay minifigure was purely an accident and that you would never ever let it happen ever again.
He told me to tell you, “Luka, your father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu!”
Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.
So, I hope you enjoy your Jay minifigure with all his weapons. You will actually have the only Jay minifigure that combines 3 different Jays into one! I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight!
Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your dad.”
Now corporations give millions of dollars each year to causes, and it barely creates a blip on the media’s radar. Brands send free replacement items and parts from time to time when they don’t necessarily have to. Service representatives efficiently and effectively solve thousands of problems for customers every day.
But there’s something about an individual customer service rep taking the time and initiative (and being empowered by the brand with the ability to) write a letter to a little boy telling him that LEGO and the characters he loves want him to be happy again – and hey, that his dad’s a pretty smart guy, too. That isn’t in any customer service delivery manual. It isn’t part of the script. There’s no bonus for that above and beyond action; in fact, it could sometimes cost an agent his or her job.
Building a Stronger Customer Base with Emotion
In his book, The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value, author Colin Shaw notes that more than 50% of the customer experience is driven by emotions, whether conscious or subconscious. A case study highlights a mature brand that began taking customer emotions to heart, improved the customer experience, and witnessed 100% growth in revenue, a doubled customer base, reduced customer churn, a 20% increase in the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, and even a 13% drop in employee attrition.
The addition of true care and positive emotion in a single customer service interaction obviously created a new swell and perhaps a new generation of brand loyalty and advocacy for LEGO. We identified with Luka Apps’ customer service story because most of us, no matter what age, have a great memory of playing with LEGOs; we’ve accidentally lost something small yet meaningful, and we’ve all desired something beyond a form letter from a business or organization after we’ve shared our emotions with them. LEGO towered beyond all expectations in its reply.
As more focus is placed on the customer experience as a differentiator, it will be these small yet meaningful actions big brands take or empower their agents to take that will create a personalized connection that will drive the strength, length, passion and advocacy of the customer relationship – and when brands get really lucky, sometimes these investments might just create a hero story that not only resonates with the customer, but is shared with the world.