This blog was inspired by the exceptional customer service I received one day.

On my way home, I stopped by the nearby outlet and thought I needed to shop for Christmas.

I went to a clothing store and then browsed the coats quickly. I tried a navy blue coat, and it was light and looked good on me. I needed such a coat, so I went to the cashier. Typically, what I needed to do was to take out my wallet and make the payment. 

However, since I had just spent 3 minutes on selecting the coat after entering the store, a question popped up in my mind. Did I spend enough time checking the coat? Is this coat warm enough?

I asked the guy at the cash desk, “Is the material made of down?” 

He looked at me with a very friendly pair of eyes and said yes. 

“Is this coat warm enough?” I asked.

He understood my hesitation and said, “Could I show you the other puffy one in the same style? So you can feel it?”

I thought I should have asked the other clerk this question before advancing to the cashier. I looked around, and there were no other people lining up behind me. So I said yes. Usually, the people who work at the cashier’s task are to help with the transactions and do not offer this, and they usually ask their colleagues to help out or just wait for me with an expression of waiting for the money.

But this gentleman wore a smile on his face and walked me to the other side of the store; he asked me to feel the other thicker one, which was a bit puffy. He said: “Your coat can be good for now, not below 5 degrees, but not for colder weather. You can consider this thicker one if you want to pick something  for colder weather.”

I immediately decided to keep my current one and thanked him for showing me the other option. We returned to the cash desk, and I was ready to make the payment.

With a smile, this gentleman said, “Let me check if there’s another one in the stockroom.”

Wow. I had yet to ask, but he showed this initiative and made me feel good. Who did not prefer to purchase something that had not been on the hanger for days? 

He talked with his colleague in a gentle and polite voice and asked her to check the back of the store. He then said with a smile, “Yes, we have another one inside, and no one has tried this on.”

I told him that I was so happy about his initiative before I had even asked.

The exceptional customer service I experienced that day left a lasting impression, not just for its efficiency but for the thoughtful approach that exceeded my expectations. As I stood at the cash desk contemplating the warmth of the navy blue coat, the staff member exhibited a level of service that turned a routine shopping experience into something memorable.

  • What struck me most was the staff member’s willingness to address my uncertainties.

 Instead of simply acknowledging the material, he proactively offered to show me an alternative, a slightly thicker and warmer version of the coat I was considering. This thoughtful gesture revealed a commitment to ensuring customers make informed decisions. It wasn’t just about making a sale but about ensuring my satisfaction. This level of engagement is rare in retail environments, where the pressure to complete transactions often overshadows the importance of customer experience.

  • The staff member’s initiative didn’t stop there. Before I could inquire about the availability of another piece, he proactively checked for it. His genuine enthusiasm to ensure I received an untouched piece straight from the stockroom showcased a commitment to customer satisfaction.

This entire experience made me feel valued as a customer. It wasn’t about rushing through transactions; it was about creating a positive and personalized encounter.

In the end, I not only left with a coat that met my needs but also a sense of satisfaction from outstanding customer service.

 It’s a reminder that, in a retail landscape often dominated by transactions, the human touch and genuine care can make such a big difference.

That experience made the great customer experience stick in my mind. Whenever I see that brand again, I think of the male clerk behind the cash desk. He made my shopping experience very pleasant. I definitely have built a positive connection with this brand since that day.

Everyone has been shown lots of brand advertisements about how great the goods and the service are, but in real life, it’s not like that at all. There is a joke that goes  “Where’s the perfect product in the world?” The answer is “the perfect product/service lives in the advertisement.” Every brand has invested a huge amount of money in promoting their brand, their product, and their service. However, one bad customer experience can turn the client off completely.

We have had the experience of being greeted by a professional smile but no genuine care. 

One day, I was on a plane flying back home. One lady brought a walking stick to the aisle seat, and her left leg was wrapped with medical bandages due to injury. I had to excuse myself in order to sit at the window seat. It took her 3 minutes to stand up from her seat as she seemed quite injured. I felt so sorry for that and asked if she would like to move to the window seat, as the middle seat was still empty. She would probably need to move again if the other person was on board; she smiled and said no. After a while, the person whose seat was in the middle arrived, and she had to stand up again. Her face contorted with pain and discomfort as she gingerly tried to rise, bearing the weight of a significant injury. 

What is even worse, she had her whole breakfast box dropped to the floor, and all the chicken  salad fell on the floor. I asked someone to clean it up for her.  She wore a bitter smile and said, “That was my breakfast bought 3 hours ago; I was waiting for the wheelchair service, and nobody came to pick me up until 30 minutes ago. I can‘t eat it now.”  

The flight attendant walked back and forth, busily arranging the luggage items, finding room for all the luggage, but not paying attention to the lady who struggled and needed help. 

Every aviation company claims to make their flights as comfortable and friendly as being at home. But I have not felt that very often.

I also had a similar bad experience; 

The first time I took John on an international flight was when he was one year old. My husband was not on that same flight as he had to fly directly to the same city from his business trip.

John was just an infant, and he did not need a ticket; my husband still purchased a ticket for him to make sure I could have some rest.

I did not think it was going to be that tough to fly with my 1-year-old infant, but he cried most of the time, and he refused to be in his seat. I had brought the approved car seat, but he just liked to be in my arms all the time. John wanted me to walk back and forth so he felt more comfortable. John cried and pointed to the window and said, “Out, out.” He did not like the airplane; what he wanted was to leave the plane and go out.

I was extremely tired and exhausted, so I held him and walked back and forth. I didn’t know how to survive the 12-hour flight. 

The flight attendant walked back and forth, using a professional smile, and delivered the food and water, but nobody asked me if I needed help. 

I could not even go to the washroom; how could I go to the washroom while John was in my arms? Then, after about half of the flight, I had to ask one attendant if she could hold John for me so I could go to the washroom. She nodded. She returned John to me right after she saw me and did not ask if there was something they could help out with.

That was John’s first international flight, and it was my first international flight to have John with me alone. After that, when my husband asked which airline to choose for our trips, I said, “Definitely not that airline.” I felt their professional smiles were fake smiles; there was no genuine care for people who desperately needed help.

So, brands, have you considered the authenticity of customer care? As we navigate an era of automation, it’s crucial to recognize that lots of certain jobs will never be replaced by AI — those that require a human touch. Customer care is paramount in this regard, thriving on genuine human interaction.

People are worrying that mankind’s work will be replaced by bots; however, there is one type of job that will never be replaced by AI, and that is the one that needs a human touch. Customer interaction is one such job that thrives on genuine human interaction. As we navigate the era of automation and artificial intelligence, the role of people who handle customer relationships becomes even more crucial. 

So, for my shopping experience, the cashier understood my nuanced emotions; even if I did not bring that up, he proactively offered me to “walk to the other coat and let me feel the difference before making a purchase. He also asked his colleague to check if there was a coat that had not been hung out to make me feel it was a clean one for me. How could AI replicate that? Great customer care excels at unforeseen situations and solving complex issues. Great customer interactions create a positive emotional connection that contributes to brand loyalty. And vice versa, a bad experience could make a customer switch to competitors, no matter how much advertising fee a brand has invested.

In the end, creating a great customer experience is a crucial competitiveness for every brand. It is not defined by people who are on the “customer care” team; it’s everyone from the brand who has had an impact on the customer’s journey. A great experience builds positive connections with the brand, far beyond what advertising can achieve. On the contrary, a single bad experience can turn clients away completely.