We all understand the value of good customer service because we’ve all experienced bad customer service. Whether it was waiting on hold for a while only for the line to get disconnected, dealing with a rude representative, being given incorrect information, or receiving an inferior product, poor customer service is something that sticks with you. It can also influence whether you ever do business with a company again.


I recently had an experience that reminded me of just how important good customer service is. I try to take care of my car. It’s a 2012 Volkswagen Passat — nothing fancy, but it’s the nicest car I’ve ever owned. When I purchased it, I committed to taking excellent care of the vehicle because I want to pass it on to my oldest son once he’s old enough to drive. That means getting regular fluid flushes, tire rotations, oil changes, and other maintenance services. And since I wanted the best care possible for the car, that also means only having it serviced at the Volkswagen dealership.

Recently, I needed an oil change. I made an appointment, but the dealership called me about an hour in advance to cancel. They’d experienced a power outage and were unable to work. I have a pretty busy schedule, so I couldn’t reschedule quickly. As the mileage continued climbing, I decided to drive into a local oil change shop. It was nothing like the dealership; it was dingy, there was no coffee, and the entire place smelled like oil.

I endured it to get my car taken care of quickly, and in only a few minutes, the car did swing back around to the front of the building. Before I could marvel at the fast service, the mechanic explained they didn’t complete the oil change because they had stripped the bolts. They told me I’d need to take it to — you guessed it — the dealership. In promising to take care of this car, I’d given myself a big challenge, and the one time I didn’t stick to it, it turned out to be a waste of time.

Returning to the dealership reminded me exactly why I’ve kept going there. It’s immaculately clean, they have free coffee and breakfast bars, and there’s a business office where you can work while you wait for your car. They have also added a new service I found particularly impressive.

The worst part about having your car serviced is that, unless you know a lot about cars, you never really know if you got what you paid for. Every time the mechanic explains a new problem, you wonder if they’re telling the truth or just trying to nickel and dime you to death. But the dealership now has a mechanic recording their service. Point by point, they show you what the shocks look like, what the brakes look like, and so on. They texted the video to my phone, and it built a whole new level of trust because I could see their work with my own eyes.

I’ve always enjoyed the environment and expertise at the dealership, but what really wowed me was their level of transparency, responsiveness, and customer industry. It was second to none. They realized if they want their customers to pay a premium price, they need to provide a reason.

At MnSOM, we want to do the same thing. As I shared in my book “Beyond Theory,” I think every organization should have a vision and a mission. But as business changes, our goals need to change, too. So, it was time to create a new mission statement. Mission statements force us to think about what our business values. By sharing them with everyone, we create accountability and give the entire organization something to rally behind.

The Minnesota School of Music delivers personalized music lessons for kids and teens with industry-leading customer service.

I’ve set a big hairy audacious goal for the business to reach 5,000 students by 2035. That’s my vision; our mission statement is how we get there. For more about how we plan to deliver world-class customer service to our customers every day. We look forward to not only meeting but also exceeding your expectations.

–Eric Nehring