Despite last weekend's dreadful headaches, we encountered several instances of excellent customer service. I have to say that I'm surprised when someone goes out of their way to provide great service. I blame what I often call the "walmarting" of America, where people don't give a shit along as they can spend as little as possible. (And seriously, if you shop at Walmart, you're just adding to the problem.)
We've rented cars with Enterprise on our last two trips. Sure, they were the cheapest, but they're so crazy about treating you well, making it such a stand-out experience, that I would be willing to pay a little more if they did charge a little more. It's so night and day from the cattle mentality that I would get over and over from Alamo, which used to have a lock on pricing.
We also found ourselves in a Wendy's last weekend. I hate fast food, but given the location and circumstances, it was the best we could do. They had a person roaming the dining room, offering drink refills, taking trays and even getting condiments. It was pretty weird for a fast food place (certain "fast casual" joints not withstanding) to have someone like that, but I will remember it.
It made me think about the airlines. Air travel has become such a completely shitty experience that everyone hates it. They're not going to give you more room or start flying your bags for free, but it seems like there are places they could do a better job of making you feel welcome without breaking the bank. At least give everyone a free cookie or pretzels, maybe give them WiFi. At the very least, be nicer to people. That would certainly earn some loyalty.
My point is that in a sea of suck, where customer expectations are already low, service can easily be the differentiator that wins you more business. It seems so completely obvious to me.