When I think about customer service it's usually because I'm not getting enough of it. Waiting forever for a service rep to pick up the phone, twiddling my thumbs while a salesperson yammers with a colleague -- you know what I'm talking about: those small and not-so-small irritations that turn people against companies, as in "I will never do business with them again! Harrumph!" I rarely take my annoyances to a higher authority because, I think, what good will it do? When I do receive great service, I'm pleased and happy and almost always complimentary. But again, I usually don't bother taking it much further.

It's a good thing everyone's not as lazy as I am, because one satisfied, motivated customer can actually change the fortunes of a company -- dramatically. This happened to Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation and its customer-obsessed founder, Dawson Rutter (see Leigh Buchanan's profile here). And it happened recently to the Verē chocolate company after my friend Benjamin Weil discovered it. Each Friday, Verē opens its factory in the Chelsea area of New York City so that the public can sample its wares. On his third visit, Benjamin asked a friendly salesperson why Verē products were not on the shelves of the local Whole Foods store, where surely they (pure, rich, and very low in sugar) belonged. The salesperson answered that the company had tried to get into Whole Foods, with no success.