You Can’t Buy This Kind of Publicity

It seems that organizations are in the news for good and bad. From Boeing to the U.S. Post Office, there seems to always be a bad headline in the paper. Organizations spend countless millions trying to mitigate such negative press while arming PR folks to spin the bad and counter with the positive.

And yet some things gather attention with seemingly no effort at all.

A story that has had lots of favorable press is about LEGO. A 7-year-old from England named Luka Apps had lost one of his favorite LEGO minifigures. With his dad’s help, he wrote the company and pleaded for a new JayZX. Lego sent him a new minifigure (a minimal cost to the company). But what made it go viral was the creative way they responded to the young man:

A carousel made of legos. How many companies are having to put a "spin" on negative press. Photo by J. Jeff Kober
A carousel made of LEGOs. How many companies are having to put a “spin” on negative press? Photo by J. Jeff Kober

“Thanks for sending us an email!

“We are very sorry to hear about you losing your Jay minifigure but it sounds like your dad might have been right about leaving it at home. It sounds like you are very sad about it too.

“Normally we would ask that you pay for a new one if you lose one of your minifigures and need to have it replaced. My bosses told me I could not send you one out for free because you lost it, but, I decided that I would put a call into Sensei Wu to see if he could help me.

“Luka, I told Sensei Wu that losing your Jay minifigure was purely an accident and that you would never ever let it happen ever again. He told me to tell you, “Luka, your father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu!” Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.

“So, I hope you enjoy your Jay minifigure with all his weapons. You will actually have the only Jay minifigure that combines 3 different Jays into one! I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight!

“Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your dad…

Happy building!



LEGO Consumer Services”

That sort of attention to a little 7-year-old inevitably landed the LEGO organization in the press through media outlets like Huffington Post, MSN, Yahoo and Forbes. You can’t pay money for that kind of good press. And it came from a sincere effort to not only provide service recovery, but to tailor that service to the boy’s circumstances.

There’s another favorite story from a zoo I’ve worked with:

Rave To Woodland Park Zoo, who found our 4-year-old son’s missing stuffed gorilla, “Oooh Oooh,” amid the pile of stuffed animals inside the Zoomazium, and returned him to us along with a photo-essay of his “adventures” during his month spent at the zoo. Your creativity, compassion and kindness stunned us, and we are so thankful that our son, who declared “this will never stop hurting until I am dead”, has his special guy back. Thanks for setting an example for our kids of what it means to go the extra mile in caring for others.

ZooMazium at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is an indoor play/educational facility with lots of places to sit for stroller moms. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

The backstory on this experience is that the gorilla had accidentally fallen behind some furnishings. When it was finally recovered, the staff called the family and left a message. A few weeks later, the family, upon returning from a vacation, called the staff and told them they would be over right away. The staff, realizing that the family had not called back because of their trip, thought it would be cute to take pictures of “Oooh Oooh” on vacation at the zoo.

Of course, lost and found items are returned regularly in any organization. What made this stand out was the individualized approach the staff took. The small photo book cost practically nothing. The good will–and long term customer loyalty achieved–will last far longer.

So it is with really great customer service. Whatever the cost to select, orient, train, emphasize and reward great customer service is a small price for the returns it yields. It’s an opportunity no organization ignore.

Like the Woodland Park Zoo, and many other organizations around the world, we provide great customer service programming and consulting. We also provide the management and leadership tools to support the transformation of cultures and brands into world-class excellence. Contact us today!

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