Unfortunately, most of us would agree that receiving “great service” is a rare experience.

Instead, we have to deal with companies like UPS (who could care less that they dropped that rare antique during shipment), Comcast (who is not concerned that your business telephones have been down all day, and Aetna (who has you on hold for 2.5 hours to answer a simple question)…..and the list goes on, and on, and on.

One of my hobbies is collecting and restoring antique marine engines. I enjoy bringing these unique machines back to life, and I also enjoy learning about the entrepreneurs of the early 1900’s who built the manufacturing companies that made them. Those companies were obsessed with innovation and service.

One of those manufacturers, The Caille Perfection Motor Company, had a very comprehensive view of service, which was clearly defined in their letter to every new customer. I recently obtained an original of one of those letters for my collection, dated September 7, 1921 (The Caille Perfection Motor Company Letter), which I thought you might enjoy. Here are some promises made to each new customer in that letter:

  • You are not simply buying a piece of merchandise, you are buying service.
  • Service is what you receive from the merchandise you have purchased; such as the ease of use and comfort provided to you.
  • Service is also what is not built into the merchandise, it may be called the “spirit of the manufacturer”.
  • Service provided by the manufacturer is ensuring that you know how to use the merchandise correctly, and that if there is misfortune, confidence that we will take care of the problem for you.
  • Service is also a guarantee that the merchandise, both workmanship and material, is free from any defects.
  • Service is not limited to six months, or a year, but is without limitation, and it has no restrictions.

I think there is a lot to learn from this manufacturer’s example. How do we define our service promise to our clients? What do we expect from those we buy services from?

I am hopeful that copies of the letter from The Caille Perfection Motor Company that I sent to the CEO’s of UPS, Comcast, and Aetna might do some good…..maybe?

Warm personal regards,

Doug Williams

Chief Executive Officer.