Why Awesome Customer Service Stories Go Viral (and How to Leverage it)

The internet gives brands a unique customer service opportunity that didn’t exist even a few years ago. Now, brands can directly communicate with customers, and customers can share stories about brands with just a few clicks.

This means that stories about your business can be sent out to thousands of people almost instantaneously, making them accessible to 3.39 billion internet users1. Sometimes these stories gain a huge amount of traction and can place your company in front of new prospects.

But why do so many awesome customer service stories go viral in the first place? And what can you do to leverage it?

What Does “Viral” Actually Mean?

There are multiple examples of viral content out there. To most people, viral content is simply be defined as popular content that gains thousands of views, shares, and likes.

For example, these are the most retweeted posts on Twitter as of November 2018, according to Statista2.

storiesEvery one of them can be thought of as “viral.” But there’s a difference between plain old viral content that anyone can create and viral marketing.

No matter which industry you’re in, viral posts can give your brand a lasting and sustainable presence online. Once you go viral, a large group of people will learn about your company, and your brand will be hard to forget.

Just like Wendy’s and the viral #NuggsForCarter3 tweet, which is currently the most retweeted post of all time. It’s so popular that even other brands like Moment reference it4:

But there’s not exactly a formula that’s set in stone detailing how to go viral. Online algorithms are ever-changing, and so are social media platforms.

The good news, however, is that by appealing to human emotion, you can influence customers, build solid relationships, and create brand awareness by offering awesome customer support.

And if you’re lucky, your company’s customer service story might create the huge traction you’re hoping to find.

A large number of customer service stories go viral because of empathetic brands or employees.

#1 Empathy Goes a Long Way

In November 2017, a woman posted a heartwarming story on Facebook5 about a man who used handfuls of change to make a purchase at a Walmart store in Clarksdale, MS. In her post, Spring Herbison Bowlin explains, “He miscounts and starts to get flustered. Gives me a muttered, “I’m so sorry.” His hands and voice are shaking.” Her post goes on to detail the cashier’s reaction to the customer. “This beautiful cashier takes his hands and dumps all the change on the counter and says, “This is not a problem, honey. We will do this together.”

When the customer who wrote the post thanked the cashier for her kindness toward the man, she said: “You shouldn’t have to thank me, baby. What’s wrong with our world is we’ve forgotten how to love one another.”

The post racked up more than 924,000 likes, 22,000 comments, 431,000 shares, and extensive media coverage6. Why? Because it’s a heartwarming story that showcases excellent customer service fueled by empathy.

Teach your team to always be empathetic toward customers. Chances are, either a bystander or the customer themselves will share their experience, and it just might gain the kind of traction this post did.

#2 Funny Customer Service: Take a Risk For the Sake of Humor

In 2016, Facebook user Wes Metcalfe found himself in a pretty icky situation after being sold a cucumber from Tesco with a worm inside. He decided to write the company a funny post7 about his purchase:

“Upon opening my cucumber, I discovered a worm inside the wrapping (see picture)…I excitedly shouted the kids downstairs to come and meet our new pet. We decided to name him William.”

Finding a worm inside of your produce is a pretty bad situation. However, Tesco didn’t play it safe by offering a well-worded corporate apology or some kind of discount. They chose to respond to the customer in the same light-hearted tone:

While most brands might see this kind of response as risky behavior that could be received poorly, it worked for Tesco. The company’s response received more than 27,000 likes. This proves that sometimes it pays to be silly and unconventional with customers.

#3 Go Above and Beyond

Some customer service stories have gone viral simply because they showcase an instance where a brand went above and beyond the usual for a customer.

In August 2017, a Domino’s delivery driver Benjamin Houston was two hours late on a pizza delivery because his car broke down. Despite having no car, he walked half a mile to complete the delivery. Customer Ashley Schafer then tipped him $208 after hearing about why her pizza was late. In addition to the generous tip, she also created a GoFundMe9 for the driver to raise money to cover the cost of fixing the driver’s car.

Schafer wrote in a Facebook post about the exchange: “It’s more than pizza of course…it’s an enormous understanding of responsibility, respect for self and another human being, and above all, unsolicited kindness.”

Houston’s dedication to his job touched the customer and many others who read about the story, making it the perfect recipe for a viral tale.

The same can be said for Chick-fil-A, which is known for its amazing customer service.

When three-year-old Madison Thompson left her pink stuffed flamingo at a Commack, New York Chick-fil-A outlet, the restaurant wanted to help get it back to its owner. The store posted online asking for help to find the owner of the stuffed animal, saying: “A little girl left this behind at Chick-fil-A Commack after having lunch with her dad. Please let us know if this belongs to your daughter! We are taking good care of her in the meantime!”

The post10 racked up over 40,000 views and 600 shares, and less than 48 hours later, the owner of the flamingo was found. The store then treated Madison to a Chick-fil-A lunch when she came to pick it up, complete with pink flamingo decorations and a photo book from her flamingo’s “vacation.”

Each instance includes brands and employees who went the extra mile to serve their paying customers, and people took note.

#4 Never Miss a Chance to Go Viral by Monitoring Social Media

Social media monitoring allows you to track multiple conversations that might be relevant to your brand. By keeping an eye on all social media channels, you can ensure that you receive a notification as soon as someone mentions your company or a related keyword or phrase. You can then respond immediately, and increase the chances of getting the attention you deserve.

With Freshdesk’s social media monitoring tool, you can monitor social media mentions and keywords all without having to leave your helpdesk.

After you find a post that you want to respond to, you can turn it into a ticket and assign it to a specific agent so that they can address the issue.

You can even make things private and send the user a direct message on the social media platform.


Brands and customers have a chance to interact with one another like never before thanks to the online world.

Customer service stories can be broadcasted to thousands of people in seconds, and if they go viral, thousands of new eyes will be on your company. But since online algorithms are kind of unpredictable, there’s not a strict playbook about how to go viral.

That’s why you have to appeal to customers’ emotions.

Be empathetic, don’t be afraid to be funny or introduce humor into your conversations, and always remember to go above and beyond for customers. Track brand mentions with a social media listening tool so that you can immediately respond to users who mention you on social media channels.

Leverage the power of human emotions like these brands for your own shot at a viral customer service story!

1 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/273018/number-of-internet-users-worldwide/
2 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/699462/twitter-most-retweeted-posts-all-time/
3 – https://www.fastcompany.com/40419538/carter-got-his-wendys-nuggs-and-a-twitter-world-record
4 – https://twitter.com/moment/status/1012494950360068096
5 – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1729317940433330&set=a.259972190701253&type=3&theater
6 – https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/11/13/cashier-helps-man-paying-with-change/
7 – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1256528577711069&set=o.112463368812803&type=3&hc_ref=ARTWUC-FQqmEwnQBVu-59Peezv6HyZqeyHQQBgAkwbbuPDvtZT9EnSVnuLXYWa46LQY
8 – https://wtvr.com/2017/08/03/dominos-employee-walks-to-deliver-pizzas-after-his-car-breaks-down/
9 – https://www.gofundme.com/c4h6jk-more-than-pizza-bens-fund?fbclid=IwAR1tOZN4MWNAAexDk-0MFYJTeLDppzCkGWkEHJPckIKKgj5E2RtQf0F34J4
10 – https://www.facebook.com/cfacommack/posts/2056713001272057