When I wrote my post about empowering your customer service team, I suspect some people thought that meant encouraging them to give slightly larger discounts, stay on the phone a few minutes longer, and use colloquial terms.

Sure. All that stuff is good. But when you really let your customer service representatives express themselves, you get something like this:

childs letter to sainsburys

sainsburys response letter

A 3-year-old girl wrote a supermarket asking why they called their bread “tiger bread”. This is something that is easy to ignore. You’ve got irate customers, customers threatening to sue, customers trying to return products, and then a whimsical letter from a little girl who has no spending budget. She's not a priority.

But Chris King, Customer Manager at Sainsbury’s, took the time to write a fantastic, fun response. He included a gift card. He even added his age (27 & ⅓) to the bottom of the letter, just like she did.

This wasn’t posted to the corporate website or filmed for YouTube. It was just mailed back to the girl, and Chris went back to his normal tasks. Then the girl’s mom posted it on her blog, and it blew up. Sainsbury’s got tons of positive press, and eventually rode the swell and renamed the bread to “giraffe bread” as the girl has suggested.

This is not something you can write in a manual. This is not something you can train people for. This is not something your PR team can artificially produce. This can only be created by empowering your customer service team to do great things.

Chris spent a handful of minutes being a good person, and the result was weeks of positive press (and a very happy little girl). That sounds worth trying to me.