Yesterday I had to do something I didn’t want to do. I had to terminate a service contract with a vendor for whom I have a great deal of respect. Even though it was the right thing to do and I didn’t arrive at the decision lightly, it was hard. Really hard.

Besides having good working relationships with several people at the company, I also enjoy being around them. We’re able to talk as openly as a vendor and customer possibly can. We’re honest with each other. We even know enough bits and pieces of each other’s personal lives that we can ask the right questions and are genuinely interested in the answers. In fact, it is this good relationship that led me to allow a bit more leeway and time to attempt to correct the problems that ultimately resulted in the cancellation of the contract. I really wanted it to work.

Here’s the remarkable thing. After I made the necessary phone calls, I received a follow-up email from my account rep. It was filled with phrases such as “thank you” and “truly appreciate” and “we understand.” He also said he was sorry. That was a very powerful email, and the account rep proved what I already believed: he’s a class act.

That email went a long way with me. Not only did it underscore my belief in the power of sincere customer service, but it also ensured that if another opportunity arises where this company might be a good fit, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Sure, it would have been easy for either side to burn the bridge. I’m glad we didn’t, though; I already know their phone number by heart.