I shared a story back in September about a man who discovered his very expensive Lego set was missing a bag of pieces. The company's response was so good  I had to write about it. 

After I did, I received more than 1,000 emails from readers who shared stories of how they lost pieces and reached out to Lego. In every case, the story ended with some version of "Lego went out of its way to make it right and make it fun." Every single time. 

What started out to me as an interesting story about a fantastic response from a creative customer service rep quickly became something totally different. It was obvious Lego was doing something different -- but also, and more importantly, it was doing something intentionally. If that's true, there's something that every business could learn.

It turns out, Lego Group knows something about talking to its customers, and not just because it has a few creative employees. The company has built one of the best examples of a customer service organization I've seen. It turns out, as I discovered talking to people at the company, it all revolves around four words. We'll get to that in a moment.

First, Lego has to be good at this because its customers lose a lot of pieces every year. According to Monika Lütke-Daldrup, the company's director of customer engagement, Lego receives more than 4 million customer calls every year -- as many as a third of which are about lost pieces. That's a lot of lost Lego bricks, and Lego people, and Lego tires, and -- you get the point. 

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Most of the time, it isn't the company's fault. Most of the time it's because of situations like one of the stories I heard: A grandfather decided to get out an old set so he could put it together with his grandson and realized that the main character was long since missing. 

He called Lego, hoping they might be able to sell him a replacement even though the set was no longer available. Instead, they managed to find one that another employee had in their office and sent it off at no charge. 

With 4 million people reaching out to the company, those kinds of responses only happen because the company decides that the best thing you can do when something goes wrong is to focus on how to delight your customers -- especially when you're a toy company. 

"Shoppers and fans reach out to us for many different reasons," says Lego Group CEO Niels Christiansen. "They often share photos of their builds and love for the LEGO brand, but they also get in touch with their ideas, perspectives, and questions about their shopping experience. Often, there is no standard reply we can provide, and our consumer services team are incredible in providing great and personal responses."

They're incredible at it because it's at the core of how Lego interacts with its customers. That brings us back to the four words:

"We have something that we call freaky," Lütke-Daldrup told me. "Freaky stands for FRKE, which is short for

  • fun
  • reliable
  • knowledgeable, and
  • engaging.

And those four words are something we've built our customer service on for probably more than 15 years."

It isn't just that Lego Group believes strongly in each of those four words. The reason the company is able to consistently delight customers, even when they're having a bad day because they just opened a new Lego set to discover it is missing pieces, is that the company keeps these words in balance.

Hannah Quill, the company's head of writing and tone of voice (which, by the way, is an amazing job title that alone tells you what the company thinks about engaging with customers) explains it this way: "One of the reasons that it works so well is that, yes, it's fun and engaging, and we encourage people to be creative and have fun when they're writing, but it's also reliable and knowledgeable. It's very important that you're giving the customer the correct information, and that any promise that you're making, you are committing to deliver that customer service. Freaky doesn't solely mean fun and engaging, it also means following through, reliable, customer service."

The proof is in the results. For example, the company's net promoter score (NPS), a measure of customer loyalty and satisfaction, is 77 -- one of the highest of any company. That means that being good to your customers is good for business. That should be obvious, but sadly, it too often isn't. 

"It's essential that no matter the inquiry, the team provides the best possible answer and service while also reflecting our core values -- and in doing that, they play a very important part to how people feel about our brand," Christiansen says. Based on the stories I read from delighted customers, it's working. It might even be time for your company to get a little "freaky."