When companies serve their customers too well, nobody wins. But you can.

Is it possible for a company to be too good?

Can a business outperform its competitors, spoil its customers, dominate the competition so much that it harms an entire industry — including, ultimately, their own customers?

Maybe. But there’s a way you can benefit from it.

Take Tesla, for example. “Their service is absolutely incredible,” says Dan Nainan, a comedian from New York. “Everything from their phone support, to their willingness to come pick up the car if there’s a problem, to their service centers, which look more like luxuriously appointed offices with food, flat-panel TV, and Wi-Fi, rather than some grubby waiting room.”

The other car manufacturers are a joke, he says. They don’t stand behind their products, their service centers are rundown and unwelcoming, and the overall service levels are disappointing. Sure, their products often cost half the price of a Tesla, but that doesn’t seem to bother Nainan and the 186,000 other Tesla owners. And with the company now offering a new $35,000 model this year, many more motorists may start to see things Nainan’s way.

A company like Tesla makes many other car manufacturers look incompetent, but it’s not alone. In the airline industry, there’s Southwest Airlines and Singapore Air. The hotel industry has Ritz-Carlton. In computers, it’s Apple, and in fast food, it’s Chick-fil-A.

I know what you’re thinking. Is there a list? Sure. The American Customer Service Index (ACSI) benchmarks all of its indexed companies by score. Here are the top performers for 2016.

1. Lincoln (Ford) (87)
2. Chick-fil-A (87)
3. Dole (86)
4. Dr Pepper Snapple (86)
5. Honda (86)
6. Dial (85)
7. BMW (85)
8 Toyota (85)
9. LG (85)
10. Bosch (85)

Note: The ACSI doesn’t cover every company, so Tesla isn’t on the list. Ritz-Carlton is part of Marriott. But you get the idea.

Another great source is Fortune’s “most admired” list:

1. Apple
2. Amazon
3. Starbucks
4. Berkshire Hathaway
5. Disney
6. Alphabet (Google)
7. General Electric
8. Southwest Airlines
9. Facebook
10. Microsoft

Quality sells. Some, but not all, of these companies have customers service built into their DNA.

“It’s inseparable from the company itself,” says Benjamin Glaser, an editor for DealNews, a bargain website. “Who could think of Amazon without a speedy credit for a late package, or Apple without helpful Apple Store Geniuses, or Starbucks without consistent baristas no matter what store you walk into? Certainly, a lesson here is that customers stick with dependable, pleasant experiences.”

In other words, go for quality. That’s always helpful advice. What good is a low price if you’re getting a shoddy product or service?

But there’s a more interesting question, which is: Can one really good company make an entire industry look bad, thanks to its awesomeness? Can it over-serve its customers — even spoil them?

Let’s take a reality check for a moment. Companies are like people; they are not perfect. Eventually, even the top performers will disappoint you. Also, remember that you don’t always have a meaningful choice. In some industries (notably subscription TV services, internet search engines and social media) there’s almost no competition, which is to say the businesses are de facto monopolies. There, being great doesn’t really matter because who else are you going to do business with?

But there are the Teslas, Starbucks and Apples of the world that arguably have competition and still shine. What’s their effect on the rest of their industry?

For rivals, it must be demoralizing to see the same competitor recognized year after year for being a favored business by consumers, if not also by Wall Street. Tesla’s stock price must drive the other car manufacturers mad, for example.

But for consumers, doing business with one of these overachievers also has its downside. Because you can quickly get spoiled. I like my Café Americano done with no room for cream and two cubes of ice to cool it down. And you know those Starbucks baristas get it right, whether they’re in Dallas or Dubai. I like that. But at any other coffee shops, you just can’t be sure. I know people who refuse to try new coffee shops because they love Starbucks’ quality and consistency.

Yes, it’s possible to be too good. That’s a bad thing, because it creates a barrier to entry that’s difficult to break through and frankly, it makes the rest not try as hard to compete. In the airline industry, for example, even JetBlue seems to have stopped trying to compete with Southwest on service; the other legacy carriers quit a long time ago. Only the luxury car manufacturers come close to Tesla in the service department. It’s as if the others don’t care.

Perhaps our standards need to be more flexible. For example, I might find a better Americano at a no-name corner cafe. Why not give them a chance? There may also be better computer than my old Apple MacBook, a more reliable car than my Honda Pilot. If I remain blindly brand-loyal, am I just making things worse?

Customers should not have to play these games, of course. All companies should deliver acceptable service. But until they do, you’ll have to shop more strategically, and set your expectations more realistically.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend