Back in 2012, a young child left behind their favorite toy at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel they had been staying at with their family. The Ritz-Carlton hotel staff called to let the family know they had found the child’s stuffed toy and the father mentioned a story he had concocted about what had happened to keep his young son from worrying about the toy too much.
When the company sent the toy back, it arrived along with Ritz-Carlton labeled products as gifts for the child and the family, as well as a binder full of pictures to support the father’s story that the toy wasn’t lost; it had just taken its own vacation.
In another story, a teenage boy went into a Target store to find a clip-on tie for a job interview only to find that the store only sold regular ties. Instead of letting the young teen leave, an employee helped show the boy how to put on the tie, how to tuck in his shirt, how to give a proper handshake, and how to answer hard interview questions.
As the teenager went to leave, he was cheered on by a whole group of Target employees. This employee that helped him went above and beyond what is typically asked of them. Not only did he make sure the teenager was satisfied and got what he came into the store for, but he helped him prepare for the interview he was going to .
Stories of this type of exceptional customer service, like the story of the cashier who helped cover the cost of a customer’s groceries when they couldn’t afford the whole cost on their own, have been going viral all over social media.
If one hasn’t crossed your own feed today, a quick search can easily take you to multiple examples of a brand’s employees going above and beyond to provide their customers with an outstanding customer service experience that makes the customer want to talk about it, share it, and ultimately come back to the brand again.
But what is it about these types of stories that draw the attention of people across multiple platforms around the world, and how is it that these examples of amazing customer service go viral?
What draws people in?
Aristotle believed that what drew people into stories involved three things: ethics, emotion, and logic. It had to be credible and worthy, it had to appeal to a person, and it had to make sense. When it comes to customer service stories, Aristotle’s view point makes sense. The stories are credible and show a person performing an ethical act, the stories appeal to customers, and the stories make sense.
Yet a professor at the University of Pennsylvania took studying this idea a step further to find out what else can cause stories to go viral on the internet.
After partnering with another professor for the study and after looking through the Times to see what articles made the most emailed list for a four month period, they found that stories that invoked emotion were emailed far more frequently than those that didn’t invoke any emotion at all and that those that invoked happy emotions were also shared more frequently than those that invoked sad emotions.
With stories involving amazing customer service, happy emotions are invoked as the reader takes in the experience the customer had with a brand. While they didn’t experience the service for themselves, the customer takes pride that the brand they choose to invest their money in upholds high standards of customer service by going that extra mile to ensure their satisfaction.
Two other factors the professors discovered in their research is that these type of stories allow for people to develop a type of ‘social currency’ that makes people feel like they are in the know when they read it and pass it along. Ultimately, it includes the quality of the story itself. If the story is emotionally arousing, it can draw the reader in but if it isn’t done well, it won’t hold the reader’s attention as long as the writer would like and the less likely it is that the story will be shared and go viral.
So how does that make the story go viral?
In a society that deals with many forms of social media and interaction on the internet, it has become the first place that many turn to when they experience outstanding customer service from a company’s employees.
They’ll post the story on Facebook or on Twitter for their friends and family to see or they’ll post it on the company’s Facebook or Twitter for all of those that like or follow the company to see. Their story can catch the attention of all of those that are able to see it and invoke the same type of emotions the most emailed articles from the Times did in their readers. With their attention caught and the right emotions invoked, those that read the story can like and share it with their own social media community.
In the case of some of the stories that go viral, the attention they garner causes them to get picked up by various blogging sites and then gets promoted across other social media platforms. The attention can also get the story of the outstanding customer service rep reported to the local news stations, local radio stations, or the local newspapers, so the report or the article can go out to be viewed by multiple people who can go on to share it.
Those that do get picked up by the news in some capacity don’t just stay local; they’ll go on to get national or global coverage and stir up publicity across the country or the world!