What is your point of view about our point of view that service is the reason we are here? Do you agree (or disagree) with our definition that service is taking action to create value for someone else? What is your opinion about the teaching of UP! Your Service and Ron Kaufman? Your comments can

Our weekend was certainly memorable, but it was not what I expected. We did stay in a bungalow right on the beach, but it was a stuffy room with bird-size mosquitoes and a bathroom that emitted a rare and unpleasant seafood smell. The food was tasty, but the service was by no means speedy. All of this might sound like a recipe for a terrible weekend, but somehow it wasn’t. The kindness and obvious effort put forth by the staff made it easier to overlook the resort’s shortcomings. We were always greeted with smiles and addressed by name. On our last night, the cook re-opened his kitchen just so we could try a special local dessert. It was so evident that everyone genuinely wanted to please us.

Google has a pretty good reputation for customer service. The world’s largest search engine gives people the results that they need. Their Google Docs suite is free and is a decent replacement for more expensive office suite offerings. Gmail allows millions to operate free e-mail accounts with relatively little spam making its way past Google’s complex filters. Google is a technology company that knows what people want.

Today, we tweet about the latest books we’ve read. We let our friends know where we’re eating lunch via Facebook. We Instagram pictures of our latest purchases. We post reviews of the businesses we frequent on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List.

As consumers, many of us have gone social. We love telling people about our latest experiences, and we love hearing about what others have experienced so we know what to do this weekend and what to avoid. Unfortunately, this social reality is something that few companies have fully embraced. Until they do, they’ll be missing out on the social power of their satisfied customers.

How do you move beyond satisfaction? How do you stop looking backward to evaluate performance, and instead look forward to create new possibilities and potential? By changing your mind-set-and transforming your survey-to a value-add proposition. Nokia Siemens Networks brought people from different departments together with a new goal-to create conversations and cultivate insights that would improve the relationships with their clients moving forward.

“Instead of asking clients how they rate our service, we asked them to explain their challenges, their goals, and the ways in which we could help them,” says Jeffrey Becksted, the company’s Head of Customer Experience and Service Excellence. “We asked them where Nokia Siemens Networks fits into their future-not how we’ve served them in the past.”

Many of us can recall a story about poor customer service that went viral on the Internet. (Think United Airlines and guitars, or Federal Express and computer monitors.) These negative stories have become legends. Unfortunately, we don’t find as many stories going viral about outstanding quality service.

In addition to these legendary stories are more day-to-day examples of how online information has changed the face of service. Nearly every company, product or service has information and opinion about it circulating on the Internet. This includes a wide range of commentary on the level of service and service experiences you provide. And it may even include outside sources, completely unknown to you, who provide service for your products.

Brand perception is simply the way customers perceive your organization. This perception is influenced by many factors: your products or services, style of communication, corporate culture, and the quality of service you provide at every “perception point.”

A prime example of effective branding is Starbucks. Core values of the company are service and relationship and this is clearly articulated in the brand message. Starbucks isn’t simply a place to buy a cup of coffee, it is distinguished by offering a personal touch to service. Regular customers at many Starbucks locations form relationships with baristas who know their preferred beverageand other details of their lives. Starbucks has also given rise to the term “third place” since it accommodates both social and business meetings. Walk into any Starbucks and you will invariably see students and business people sipping their lattes with laptops open.

American Express Global Customer Service Barometer says that 92% of people are most influenced by a company’s reputation or brand, and 88% say that they are most influenced by the recommendations of family and friends.

So, the question begs asking… how can “word of mouth” be motivated, encouraged or leveraged? How can you create “buzz” even if you are a single employee, or manager of a business? Does it take a huge budget? An ad agency? Nope. Sit down, we are going to offer you some staggering statistics.

Do you really know your customers well enough to stand apart from your competition? Do you want to?

Many people say they know who their customers are. But an alarming number, especially in the B2B world, have only a shallow clue.

Ask yourself these questions, and then think again:

6. Fuel for an Uplifting Service Culture

• Complaints can work as a trigger for taking new action and catalyzing positive change.

• Sharing customer complaints throughout the organization educates everyone to understand what your customers experience, expect and insist upon receiving.

• Complaints prevent complacency. New problems keep humility high and teammates on their toes.