In an Entrepreneur article titled “10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service”  author Gregory Ciotti highlights ten unique examples of how exceptional customer service goes a long way. The actions of these businesses provide us with insight into how companies can ensure they keep their customers for life. This week’s story features former bookstore B. Dalton and how they demonstrated extraordinary customer service despite not having the product their customer needed.

Story #8: B. Dalton Bookseller Calls the Competition

“While great customer service stories can be a dime a dozen if you’re looking for them, you can’t help but think that some of these tales seem especially calculated.

It makes good business sense to treat customers well, doesn’t it? Big companies probably aren’t hesitant to go above and beyond for customers if they suspect it could result in free press, especially around the holidays.

But when you hear a tale like this, you know a business is truly focused on customer happiness.

A B. Dalton customer (before the company was acquired by Barnes & Noble) was visiting the store to pick up a book requested by her son for Christmas.

‘The young lady looked in the computer inventory to see if they had the requested book. It showed there were some in stock, still packed. She went to look through the packed books and could find none.’

For the sake of not stopping the relentless pursuit of customer happiness, the B. Dalton representative actually called their competition (in this case, Borders) to reserve a book for the customer and printed out directions to where she could pick it up!

‘She gave me the contact name at Borders and told me to just go up to the counter and my book would be waiting.’ – Reader DD Moffitt 

While the B. Dalton team may not have made the sale that day, their outstanding commitment to wowing customers won them a repeat shopper for life.”


At the end of the day, it is always about serving the customer, even if you can’t do it yourself.  It would have been very easy to let the customer leave disappointed, even though it was no fault of the store or customer.  But the store went to the competition, which had the book in stock, and made sure the customer was served.  And that is the bottom line.  While this happens many times within a company (my Walgreens was out of a prescription, so they called the Walgreens nearby to see if they had it in stock), this was about calling the competition, to make sure the customer was served.

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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