"You might say, of course, that we’re just getting what we pay for: service is on the decline because consumers have been conditioned to demand low prices, and low prices usually mean small payrolls and cheap wages. (It’s no coincidence that the one consistent exception to the general malaise is the luxury business, where, as a recent Booz & Company study put it, service is a true 'differentiator,' and where cost is much less of an object.) But there are companies that have managed to use superior service to distinguish themselves from their competitors and still deliver reasonable prices: the employees of the online shoe retailer Zappos.com are famous for going to exceptional lengths to keep customers happy. Doing this, though, requires an investment in service that most companies aren’t willing to make."