The power of the human touch: 5 real-world examples of outstanding customer experience

08 August 2016 -


These stories of amazing service show just how important the human touch remains to be for your customers

Guest blogger professor Steven Van Belleghem

Are your customers the number one priority for your business? Most business leaders would claim so, but actions speak louder than words.

Recent studies have shown that customers love sharing their good experiences with friends and family, so today more than ever, it pays to go the extra mile.

Good customer care means you don’t need to tell people just how good you – your actions will do the talking for you – and as the five following examples demonstrate, it is the people within the business who can make you stand out.


Starbucks created an initiative to get baristas to write names on cups as a way to form a personal bond with customers (and if you think they’re writing down your name wrong on purpose, you’re probably right).

However, one employee took this to the next level and made sure one of her deaf customers would receive the best customer care possible by learning sign language.

The customer shared this story on his Facebook page, it went viral and found its way onto major news sites around the world.

Starbucks created a ton of goodwill and became one of the most talked about brands on the internet for a couple of days, all thanks to one employee’s actions.


Ritz-Carlton has a well-established reputation for treating guests like royalty, but one manager still managed to go the extra mile for his customers recently.

A family with a boy who suffered from severe allergies always made a point to travel with their own supply of specialised eggs and milk, but unfortunately their food was ruined during their trip.

The manager of the hotel remembered that there was a store in Singapore that sold these specific items so asked his mother to buy some and fly to bring them to the hotel, 2.5 hours away.

By exceeding his responsibilities in this way, the manager not only won a loyal client, but also a powerful brand advocate spreading praise for Ritz-Carlton.


It isn’t just the big brands that are the thought leaders on customer experience. Small businesses will often provide some of the best customer care as a way to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Jimyz Automotive, a small auto repair shop from Streetsboro, Ohio, thanked a customer for trusting them to work on his car and made it clear with a truly genuine thank you note.

That might not sound remarkable, but the way the internet responded when the image was shared on Reddit demonstrated how powerful a human connection can be.

Delta Airlines

When Jessie Frank needed to pick up her daughter from a camp for diabetic children she found herself stranded in Washington DC as a result of bad weather and a subsequent overbooked connecting flight.

Much to her surprise a Delta Airlines agent told her a seat had become available and a flight attendant would be waiting for her at the gate. The flight attendant (who wasn’t wearing a uniform) helped her stow away her carry-on luggage and took his place on the jump seat in the cockpit.

It wasn’t until the plane landed that she was made aware that the unidentified man was actually the CEO of Delta Airlines, Richard Anderson, who gave up his seat.

Of course Jessie Frank published her experience on social media, which resulted in a big PR win for Delta Airlines, but this demonstrates how customer care should be implemented at every level of the corporate ladder.

B. Dalton

If you have ever been into a book shop for a specific book that happens to be out of stock, the usual solution offered by staff is for them to order a copy in for you.

However, one B. Dalton employee took the unusual approach to instead call round all local competitors to track a copy down and reserve the book for the customer at their store instead.

This may have lost a sale for B. Dalton that day, but their commitment to customer happiness transformed them from a regular commodity bookstore into a valuable brand that builds loyalty through genuine human connections.

Professor Steven Van Belleghem is author of When Digital Becomes Human, published by Kogan Page, priced £19.99. Follow him on twitter @StevenVBe, subscribe to his videos at or visit

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