It’s a funny thing about expectations. For better or worse, people look forward to them and believe their expectations are reasonable.

If you’re a jerk and treat customers poorly and they have no other alternative but to work with you, they expect to be treated poorly. They’ll tolerate you and your attitude until another alternative — any alternative — presents itself.

If your dealership provides good service and treats customers well, they anticipate that their next encounter with your business will be good, or at least adequate.

None of this is new stuff.

But if you care about your business, your job and building long-term relationships with customers, what you really want is for them to talk about you. You want them to feel good about your company, your employees and how “delighted” they are to do business with you.

You already know they talk about bad service and they talk about great service, but have you ever noticed that people seldom talk about “adequate” service?

We’re in a time of rising expectations. I’ll share mine with you.

Very recently, I took my car in to the Boucher Hyundai dealership for routine service. While it has 111,000 miles on it, I’ve never taken it in just for service. My only experience with this dealership was with an emergency electrical problem on the car a few years ago. They fixed it quickly, and, of course, it was “kind of” expensive.

Nonetheless, they got me back on the road. So, I tried them again. This time for the routine service I should have had done 50,000 miles ago.

It was a good experience and they did exactly what they said they would do in the time they said they would do it and for the price they quoted. They even gave me a ride to work after I dropped off the car.

A day later, I got the standard “heads up” via e-mail that the manufacturer would be sending out a follow-up survey to see if I was satisfied with the dealership’s service.

What I had not gotten before was a personal e-mail from the Fixed Operations Manager of the dealership. He gave me his phone number in case I had any questions or concerns and asked me to fill out the manufacturer’s survey. And then he added, “If for any reason you could not give us a 10, please call or e-mail me before you send the survey back. Any score less than a 10 is considered a failing grade and it is my report card to Hyundai.”

What I found interesting was that while I was grading the dealership’s service department, any real or perceived shortcoming of the department was considered a personal failure. It was a reflection on him, not necessarily the service department, and he was taking it personally.

Besides his words, how did I know he was taking it personally? Because I replied to his e-mail on a Sunday morning with a question and I heard back from him with a direct answer to my question on Sunday afternoon — when the dealership was closed. I hadn’t expected that.

Whether or not his annual bonus depends upon my level of satisfaction, I came away believing he meant what he said and cared about how his department was performing. What he did was raise my expectations for his dealership and any other I may do business with in the future.

That was his aim.

And here I am sharing my great experience with 12,000 other dealers.