Poor customer service can kill a sale and wreak havoc on a customer’s psyche. Take it from me.

My wife and I moved earlier this year, and an Internet hookup was put on hold for a while. I’m back online now, but the road there was strewn with poor communication and poorly trained customer service representatives.

Ironically, about the same time I was struggling to get back on the Web, I was also editing this month’s Jim Peduto column on…yes, customer service. According to Peduto: “The key to differentiating your business in a hyper-competitive market is the ‘X-factor’ — the exceptional way you treat your customers.” Unfortunately, employees at the Internet company I contacted recently don’t share Peduto’s theory.

I had decided to entertain a new Internet provider — Company A. After five minutes of navigating phone computer prompts regarding my contact information, I was connected to an actual person — who asked me to repeat that same information. She then declared she couldn’t help me and I would have to move on to another “customer service” department. By that time, I wanted a guarantee that I would be able to get service that day. The rep assured me this was possible, before transferring me to my desired destination — the Internet home service department. However, they did not share the previous rep’s timing or optimism. Before I could receive Internet service, I was told, my phone account would need to be verified and that would take 24 to 48 hours. Add on another three days to deliver the computer hardware, and the Internet was now not minutes away, but days.

I ended up calling my old Internet provider. They understood that I wanted service NOW and hooked me up immediately. While Company A was still learning the ABCs of customer service, my old provider had its “X factor” operating in high gear.

Speaking of customer service: I’m new to this page, but have been around the industry long enough to think I have a decent handle on my readers’ information needs. But don’t be surprised if I check in with many of you personally to ensure we’re on the same page. Peduto would call that “knowing your customers’ expectations.”