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This cake travels up to 1,500 Miles, and is a powerful lesson in customer service

Great customer service can turn ordinary moments into extraordinary experiences. Notes from this supermarket.

April 19, 2021

4 minutes of reading

Great customer service can turn ordinary moments into special experiences. But if a customer service team is empowered to move fast, a brand can go further – defining moments for its customers that are ready special, and turn them into lifelong memories.

Customer service teams should embrace opportunities like these. It makes the difference between getting satisfied customers and creating passionate brand advocates.

To appreciate what I am saying, just look at the photo above. It’s my family – and the cake we’re celebrating with thousands of miles and is the result of the fast, generous work of many. I’m telling you about that because I believe great customer service should be shared so it can inspire more great jobs.

But first, the plot.

As long as my wife Jen can remember, she had the same birthday cake: yellow cream cake with mocha ice, slices of almond and colorful stone flowers from a East Coast regional supermarket chain has Name Giant Dish. Every year for her birthday, we come from home in New York to visit her parents in DC… and buy this cake.

My wife turns 40 by 2020, and the pandemic makes our regular cake trip impossible. Instead, we ended up in Colorado with my parents – where the nearest Giant is 24 hours drive away. A year later, as we approached her 41st birthday, Jen wondered if there was any way to get her cake in Colorado. We checked Giant’s website, but with no luck: They don’t ship here.

So I wrote the company myself.

I found the email address of a company representative and told her the story of this cake. She passed it on to someone who passed it on to someone else, and soon I spoke on the phone with Doug Duvall and Giant Delivers’ Talier Brooks. They want to help. Though normally they only deliver regionally, they say they’ll pack a big cake (and a separate cooler so it doesn’t get messy) and send it to us.

Then they went even further: They also offered to hand over a free cake to my parents-in-law in DC, so they could enjoy the cake at the same time as us. Turns out, Jen’s parents were ready bought the same cake (her dad’s birthday only happened a few days earlier), so it could be an overload. But this offer really touched us.

Our cake arrived in Colorado a few days later. The box is surprisingly heavy, and we can’t imagine what its weight is. Then we opened the box and found out: The heaviest thing in it was a giant misty tub, which could easily cover three cakes. They also include 41 content candles!

My wife assembled the cake exactly as she was going to bring it home, and it made the birthday complete.

People often associate this generosity with parent and retail stores, who have close ties to their neighborhood. That’s usually true, but this story should be a reminder that any business, of any size, has the power to build and advance its community. After all, it’s not really about the brand. It is about the people who work there and the culture that its leaders nurture.

The Giants are not helping us, and they ask for nothing in return. They only discovered an opportunity to take something special and make it even more. Forever on my wife’s birthday, we won’t just think of her traditional cake. Now we’ll also think about how Giant did its best to help us – and we’ll praise the store for anyone who asks (or doesn’t). That is the power of customer service.



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