This past week I participated in a focus group for industry professionals with over ten years experience. We discussed the economy, the changing nature of the industry, and why we make the purchasing decisions that we do. Naturally customer service was our number one concern. There are very few companies that are so big or so important that they can get away with treating us their customers poorly. And while that is obvious, the question then becomes what is customer service?

Some companies seem to believe that customer service means doing their job correctly. While I agree that correct and proper performance is important as a customer I know that I have a right to expect that. Customer service is in fact going the extra mile, going above and beyond, doing something that you don’t have to do.

Most all of the companies we deal with cut, label, and ship all in accordance with their own internal policies and industry standards. They lose points when they don’t, but they don’t get a reputation for excellent customer service just because they do what they are supposed to. The companies where you can call and say you’ve made a mistake or there was a problem and they find a way to say yes as opposed to a reason to say no…those are the true stars.

Lastly the same thing that applies to our vendors applies of course to ourselves. You cannot business as usual yourself into a reputation of great customer service. A little more “We do that” goes a long way.