Here is a great example of how you build community and loyalty by going over and above with a customer. It truly shows that they cared about the customer as an individual and that they did it not for the extra dollar but how could they help the situation (and the customer) out. In the end they earned a powerful advocate and customer for life
As Seth Godin mentions in his blog posting; is this something that your organization can support from a process and, I'll add, from a cultural perspective? It's a tricky balancing act that needs to be developed with the front line associates in any organization.
This can be achieved by ensuring that the flexibility is in place to treat consumers as people instead of forcing each unique situation into set plan guided by a set of rules and procedures. Achieving this is critical to the overall success of an organization as well as the corporation being considered a group of individuals not a black box that interacts with consumers.
How would your organization have handled this?