What if a company figured out what real customer service was? And what if that company decided to make serving the customer their true mission, instead of just trying to take customers’ money? Would such a company earn not only your loyalty but also your rabid fanaticism?

I Love You More Than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss is a collection of stories from such companies and the derived lessons that can be applied by companies trying to transform themselves into such.

These are companies that have actually decided to trust the customer to be a decent person and to treat all customers as if they were each VIPs – companies who don’t just want to do the minimum amount to keep the customers from leaving, but who consistently go above and beyond:

  • Lands’ End and their Guarantee: return an item at any time. (There is a story on the Lands’ End Guarantee page right about a man who wanted to return a taxi 16 years after it was bought. Yes, a taxi.) There’s also a story of how they replaced a customer’s car interior when one of their products ruined it.
  • Zappos, where customer care representatives will search competing websites for the customer’s product if Zappos themselves does not have it, rather than send the caller to a search engine. (And their website proclaims “Free Shipping Both Ways” with a 365-day return policy, which, though not mentioned in the book, is yet another example of doing what’s best for the individual customer rather than what seems to be right for the company’s bottom line.)
  • Southwest Airlines, which holds meetings every morning to determine where customers experienced delays or problems the previous day and then sends out an apology letter to affected customers immediately, before the customers complain. They acknowledge the problem before the customer has to point it out.
  • Zane’s Cycles, a bike shop in Connecticut that allows customers to take bikes out for trial runs without requiring even an ID or car keys as collateral and that gives away all items under $1 (even if that’s all you came in to buy). Although Zane’s does have about 5 bikes stolen every year, they continue to trust all of their customers.

What kind of a company would you rather work for? And what kind of a company would you rather support with your business?