As customers, we don't always care what's causing a problem; we just want the product or service we bought to work as advertised.
Companies that recognize this, and do whatever it takes to make it happen are usually the companies that with loyal customers.
A recent post in the Peppers and Rogers 1to1 Blog illustrates a good example of this: The customer made some changes to her home wireless network, including the wireless router that she'd purchased from another vendor. After making the changes, there were problems accessing the Internet. The customer called Time Warner Cable, her Internet Service Provider.
She describes how the technical support representative worked with her for a half hour over the phone to get the wireless router working properly, in order to restore the customer's Internet access.
As customers of Internet Service Providers, we expect fast and immediate access to the Internet. When the service isn't available, for whatever reason, we expect the ISP to make it right. We don't want to necessarily care what's causing the problem; we just want the problem fixed.
There may be several components within the service chain, and each component must be functioning properly in order for the service happen. Technically, Time Warner Cable was not responsible for the settings or the functioning of the Apple wireless router, but they knew that it had to function, in order for their customer to enjoy the service she was buying from Time Warner Cable.
Too often, companies will set internal policies in order to control the time cost of service delivery, even if the policies have a negative impact on the customer experience. When a customer-facting employee has an opportunity to satisfy a customer, that's an opportunity that shouldn't be stifled by "we didn't cause the problem, so we're not obligated to fix the problem" thinking.
There are many links in the chain that leads to customer satisifaction, and given the complexity of today's products and services, there are often situations when one vendor's solution relies on other vendors' products or services working properly.
Companies that are willing to take ownership of every link in the service chain in order to deliver on the customers' expectations, are the companies that will have a loyal customer base, and an opportunity to grow their business toward market leadership.