Customer service can be hard to define. However, when we receive good customer service it is usually greatly appreciated. We expect good customer service when we go to a grocery store or a fine dining restaurant. You should expect excellent customer service when you go to your bank as well. But what about when you call to dispute a charge with your cable company, or when your health insurance provider sends you to a lab to have your blood work processed? Sometimes we do not expect excellent customer service when at a wholesale grocer or a discount store. But you are pleasantly surprised when the customer service you receive exceeds your expectations.

Today, many folks are willing to pay more for excellent service. A small part of the “coffee experience” can be explained by great customer service. A growing trend among retailers is to reward employees if they give customers excellent service. Surely you have been asked to fill out a satisfaction survey by a cashier, waitress or even your local automotive service department. I usually feel compelled to offer feedback when the service is exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, but I do not tend to respond for mediocre service.

I do not recall being asked about customer satisfaction by the bloodwork lab, or after disputing a charge on my cable bill.

Freedom of choice is an essential part of our economic system. Customer service should be an important part of our decision when we purchase goods and services. When given a choice, most consumers look for the best combination of price and quality. Therefore, “real customer service” should give merchants a competitive advantage that must be earned by working hard to exceed customers’ expectations.