My wife got me John Berendt’s very engaging “The City of Falling Angels” for Christmas. The book discusses the political and social realities in Venice as seen through the eyes of a number of Venetians. I’ve only finished a handful of chapters so far, but the book fascinated me with the example of Archimede Seguso, an octogenarian glassblower who has created truly remarkable vases and glass figures for the last seventy years. According to Berendt, “Archimede was the twenty-first generation and one of the greatest of them all” (emphasis mine). In other words, this man, representing a family (brand) with a 600-year tradition of excellence, continued to push for improvements in his family’s art (product). And succeeded. Berendt continues, “He was the first glassmaker…with an exhibition in the Doge’s Palace in St. Mark’s Square. Tiffany sold his pieces in its Fifth Avenue store.” Not too shabby.
Separately, Nick Rice recently talked about Auto Alternative, who provided customer service that went above and beyond most consumers’ typical expectations. My local brew pub is my favorite place to eat, not because they offer an excellent menu (which they do), but because they seem genuinely glad when I walk through the door and demonstrate their appreciation throughout each of my visits.
The common thread is businesses (artists, craftsmen, whatever) that insist on exceeding their customers’ expectations.
Now that the holiday season is over, it’s easy to talk about companies that created poor customer service experiences. So don’t. Whether it’s on your own blog or in the comments here or just among your friends, share these examples and any others you can find. It’s time to stop bitching about companies that do it poorly and start celebrating the ones that do it right. Customer service is not dead. Ignore the companies that fail to deliver and they’ll go away. Make 2007 the year you raise the bar for your expectations, the expectations of your customers, and the expectations of everyone you know.