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6 companies where customers come first

Surveys show that more consumers than ever are fed up with bad service. Meet six entrepreneurs who profit by bucking the trend.

Washington, DC

Type of firm: Online women's shoe emporium

Customer-service strategy: While it's hard enough to get good service from brick-and-mortar businesses, finding it on the Internet can be ever tougher. That's not true at SimplySoles (simplysoles.com), where the average pai of shoes goes for $275. Shoppers who call the toll-free customer-service number can even reach the founder, Kassie Rempel (pictured) directly. For certain customers Simply-Soles will send out a selection of shoes - no charge, no commitment. These shoppers can try on shoes in their homes to see which pair looks best with a particular outfit. They are billed only when they make a purchase and can send the remaining shoes back to SimplySoles in prepaid mailers at a cost of about $12 a returned pair roundtrip. SimplySoles also sends out handwritten thank-you notes to every customer who orders shoes. The notes address the customer and shoe by name - a little touch that builds loyalty.
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