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Published:February 11th, 2008 03:51 EST
How to Be a Great Company

How to Be a Great Company

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

I`m not someone who makes commercial endorsements, especially to my readership, but I had a situation that merits a story that everybody will understand and appreciate.

I`m known to say that I do business with people who do business with me. This means that if people support me, I support them. But I need to modify my little saying. I need to add the qualifier, "I also do business with people who help me to get my business done."

i  recently lost my wallet while I was out of  town. I don`t carry a lot in my wallet " just a driver`s license, my American Express card and a Visa card for the few places that don`t take AMEX. I carry very little cash. I realized that I`d lost my wallet late at night. I hadn`t checked into my hotel yet and upon noticing the loss, I called American Express to cancel the card and ask for advice about what I should do.

I`m a Platinum Card holder, which comes with special benefits, but I believe that at every level, American Express offers superior service for their card holders. When I called the company, they immediately canceled the card, relieving me of any responsibility. But my bigger and more immediate concern was how I was going to check into a hotel without payment and a photo ID. The customer service agent at American Express said she would call the hotel and "take care of everything." She also instructed me to go to one of their local travel locations in Las Vegas at 10:00 am the next day, and a replacement card would be waiting there for me. I was never out of action for more than a couple of hours, and I didn`t lose a single minute of productive time.

When I got to the front desk of the hotel, as expected, the clerk requested not only money, but a photo ID card, which, of course, I didn`t have. I gave the clerk a business card in an attempt to document my identity. She protested, but at my request, she took the business card into the back office to ask her supervisor if it would suffice. She returned less than 30 seconds later and said, "The supervisor already knows about you, Mr. Block, because she just spoke with American Express."

American Express had taken care of the first night of my stay. The company had requested that the hotel check me in immediately and extend to me every reasonably courtesy.

As if this isn`t awesome enough, it gets better.

The flip side is what happened with the second credit card that I carried in my wallet. That credit card, a Visa card issued by a well-known bank, connected me to someone in India so I could cancel my card. I waded through a very detailed and tedious menu system to reach an operator who could cancel my card. Once I get through the system, the person on the other end of the call told me that in order to cancel the card, my account would be closed and then a new one opened. This was not the same as reissuing a card. It meant that I would have to re-register everything on the Internet -- all of my passwords and everything associated with my account.

I had a payment due a few days later on that card, but because the account was going to be closed, and I wouldn`t be able to make the payment online, I would incur a $10 service charge to make that payment over the phone. To add insult to injury, I was also informed that it would take five days to process the transaction and seven more days to send me out a new card.

It`s a good thing that I don`t use the Visa card very often, and it`s certainly a good thing that I don`t depend on it.

The key word here is "depend." I depended on AMEX, and they were there for me in my time need.

Isn`t this the kind of company that you want to do business with?

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, think about the kind of company you operate " or what kind of company you would like to operate. Are you the American Express type of company with a total dedication to customer appreciation and satisfaction, or are you a company that treats your customers like a 16-digit number printed on the face of a piece of plastic? Think about the ways that you can take care of your customers so they "sing your praises" to their friends and relatives " and then start doing those things.

About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.

Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit www.joelblock.com or www.growth-logic.com.