John Lewis sells largely the same range of TVs as most electrical good retailers. But it sells such a significant number of them because it offers extended warranties, free delivery, price matching and, most importantly, great customer service.

The UK officially became a service economy in 1956, when we first generated more revenue delivering services than manufacturing products. But if great service has become a commodity we expect to receive, it doesn’t mean it always happens, nor that the places that do it best get it right all the time.

For example, my wife and I were in John Lewis last Sunday to buy some Yves Saint Laurent makeup for my sister’s birthday. We chose John Lewis because it wraps gifts beautifully. However, the counter was un-manned and a lady from a neighbouring concession said she couldn’t help us. We went to Boots instead.

My wife emailed John Lewis pointing out the flaw in its concession strategy and received back an excuse and the offer of a free coffee, which she declined.

If great service has become a commodity we expect to receive, it doesn’t mean it always happens, nor that the places that do it best get it right all the time

Similarly, our washing machine broke recently, so my wife phoned the Hotpoint number on the sticker on top and was told it would cost £180 to insure and then repair. She said we would probably just buy a new one and the man on the line got what you could only call pushy.

If your strategy is to clear emails from your inbox or sell something, that’s not actually customer service. There are so many elements to great service, but it must start with brilliant staff. Hiring people with a great attitude can paper over even the most iffy process. And they can almost certainly sell you a different brand of lipstick or insurance policy you’re not sure you need.