How My Employee WOWed a Customer

Back when I was overseeing consumer affairs for Thrifty Rent-A-Car System we received a complaint from a very unhappy customer. In a hurry to catch a flight after a full week at Disneyland, the customer accidently left her son’s 3-foot Mickey Mouse plush toy in the rental car. When the customer contacted the Thrifty location the next day, Mickey Mouse was nowhere to be found.


Frustrated, the customer called our corporate Customer Care toll-free line. Jim took the call and instead of explaining (policy) that the company wasn’t responsible for items left in vehicles, he got creative. He told the customer he’d do everything he could to locate Mr. Mouse. Sadly, however, Mickey Mouse was missing in action.

What did Jim do? He asked me if I’d authorize the purchase of a Mickey Mouse plush toy for the customer. I was ecstatic at this out-of-the-box idea and immediately gave my blessings.  Jim left work that day and went to the Disney Store and bought a 3-foot Mickey Mouse and had the store Fed-Ex it to our customer. Talk about creative and memorable! Do you think the customer wanted to come back to Thrifty? Do you think she told everyone she knew about the service recovery? You bet she did. Jim’s creativity resulted in a customer for life and priceless word-of-mouth advertising… and cost us less than 50 bucks. 

The point: Every once in awhile go for the WOW. Think out of the box and find a way to surprise and delight your customers. You’ll generate priceless word-of-mouth advertising, create customers for life and your employees will have a ball.

For dozens of ideas on WOWing customers, take a look at my Delivering Service Through WOW eLearning course.

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Myra is a favorite training partner to Fortune 500 companies with her customized, engaging, behavior-changing (and fun) customer service workshops, working with McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Michelin, Vera Bradley and other brands.

One thought on “How My Employee WOWed a Customer

  1. Hi Myra,

    Let me tell you about an experience I had which is the opposite of this story. I once sold cars for the biggest Honda dealerships in Florida. To complete a sale from the moment the customer arrives until the point where they walk out the door is a minimum 4 hour process.

    At around 4 PM on this Saturday afternoon, I approached a gentleman who came to the dealership with his sister and 3 kids. I went through the usual motions as per our training and after 2 hours they made the decision to purchase a car.

    The dealership has a popcorn machine for the customers and the kids made many trips to the machine to fill up their bags. The gentleman mentioned many times that they were all getting hungry and could we speed things up a bit.

    As I was getting the paperwork together my manager pulled me aside and me and asked how the sale was going. I said we were ready to go into the finance department for that portion of the process. I also mentioned that they were hungry and did he think it was a good idea for me to order them a pizza. He said not to bother and they should be happy to have popcorn. The pizza would have cost me $12.00.

    We all was finished with the finance people, it was around 8 PM and I was going through the final process of explaining the manuals in the glove box and operation of the controls in the car. The customers were getting impatient and were in a hurry to leave, so I finished quickly.

    The last piece of information I gave them was that they would be getting a call from Honda in regards to customer satisfaction, their opinion on the sale and process they went through and hopefully all went well. They said, ‘Yes, Yes’ and sped off to have dinner.

    The bonus system revolves around the customer satisfaction percentage level. To get your bonus the sales person must be higher than the district level. I was at 98.2% and district was 91.5%. At the end of the month I had reached the bonus level and was looking forward to a sizable bonus.

    I went into the computer system to look at my customer satisfaction level and it was 90.5%. I went into the customer satisfaction reports and saw that I had been given an 85% from the above customer. I opened the file to see what negative responses they gave me and on the Overall Satisfaction percentage they gave me a 75%. In the explanation box they wrote, ‘If you are going to keep the customers after 6 PM, you should have better food than popcorn.’

    That comment dropped me under the district percentage and cost me $400.00!!! I lost $400.00 for the sake of a $12.00 pizza which my manager advised me not buying the customer.

    Add that to Listens Learned.

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