What Great Customer Service Looks Like

Great customer service means going above and beyond what’s expected. This kind of extra effort made all the difference for a group of canoeists who found themselves, literally, “up a creek without a paddle”…or two!

great customer service
(Photo courtesy of Adam Trigg)

The 5,200-Mile Canoe Trip

On January 2, 2015, a group of six men launched three canoes and a few hundred pounds of gear from the Gulf of Mexico. 239 days later they reached the Arctic Ocean.

Rediscovering North America, as this trip was called, was a massive undertaking with lots of supporting roles from sponsors, family and friends.

rediscovering north america route
(Image courtesy of Rediscovering North America)

One of those roles—though unexpected—was filled by Bending Branches and customer service veteran, Rick Raffesberger.

Trouble on the Mississippi

Winchell Delano, team member and producer of the award-winning film about their trip, tells us what happened:

"Within only a couple weeks on the Mississippi River and less than a month into the expedition, we broke two paddles (Sunburst 14 XL and Expedition Plus) on the rocks of the wing dikes. Thinking this would be an easy stretch, our extra paddles were in resupplies miles and months north of us.”

(Wing dikes are man-made structures that extend from the shore partway into a river. They’re designed to help reduce sediment build-up. There are thousands of them in the Mississippi, many of them now underwater because of dams.)

“Keeping Paddlers Paddling”

Even if Winchell and his teammates hadn’t been longtime Bending Branches customers already, what happened next clinched their fan status…

“We reached out to Bending Branches and subsequently met Rick over the phone, who rushed us replacement paddles to our next resupply in Memphis. From then on, he made sure to send along emails and see that we were doing all right.

“It was clear from the beginning that Rick was passionate about keeping paddlers paddling. We truly appreciated his and Bending Branches' help on our expedition.”

rediscovering north america crew
(Photo courtesy of Adam Trigg)

The Bottom Line: Truly Wanting to Help

How does an organization develop this kind of customer service? It’s not by accident and it’s not by putting posters in the break room. It’s pretty simple, really. As Rick says:

“If you truly want to help someone, it’ll show in your work.”

great customer service

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