Archive for the ‘Customer Focus’ Category

What Great Service Leaders Know & DoIn What Great Service Leaders Know & Do, James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser Jr., and Leonard A. Schlesinger leverage their extensive research and personal experience at the forefront of the service industry to pinpoint what makes standout service firms like Southwest Airlines and IKEA so successful. The book takes an analytical approach but keeps the human element at its core, recognizing that success in service begins and ends with front-line employees.

According to the authors:

  • The goal of any business is to provide the highest value at the lowest cost. Service companies need to remember to deliver value to not only their customers but also their employees and their investors in order to remain profitable.
  • Companies need to have a clear understanding of their target markets. Just as they must know who they are selling to, service leaders need to understand who they are notselling to. All marketing strategies and subsequent support systems should be developed with the target market in mind.
  • Most businesses rated as the “best places to work” also rate highest in customer satisfaction. Customer engagement is dependent on employee engagement.
  • Employees are more important to service companies than to any other kind of business. Employees must be hired carefully based on their attitudes, trained effectively to become knowledgeable in their roles, and provided with a support system that keeps them engaged.
  • Technology makes up a powerful and effective component of a support system, but care must be given to prevent employees from relying on it to do their jobs for them. Technology should make employees more efficient and effective. The level of appropriate technology is highly dependent on the type of service business in question.
  • Customer ownership is about making customers feel as though they have a stake in the company. Customers feel a sense of pride in participating with companies, and studies have shown that the loyal minority of repeat customers are worth far more than first-time customers.

To learn more, please visit http://www.bizsum.com

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If you take a look through any of the top online review sites, such as Yelp, Google Places, Citysearch, or MerchantCircle, it won’t take long to find consumers voicing their (sometimes harsh) opinions of businesses and retailers. Today, consumers have access to more product and company information than ever before. Not only does this help people make better purchasing decisions, but it also allows those same people to sing a company’s praises or air their personal grievances. On top of consumers’ ability to vocalize their love or hate of a company, the Internet has created a system in which consumers regularly compare services of different companies. If they can get superior service from one company, shouldn’t all companies be able to provide that same top-notch service? How should companies go about competing in such an atmosphere, and how can they balance customer needs with profitability?

In Wired and Dangerous, Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson attempt to answer these questions. They believe customer service is in a transition phase between the age of technology and the age of the customer. They believe today’s customers are different because they get outstanding service from some providers (like Zappos) and use that as a benchmark; they have more undifferentiated choices, so they are turning to the service experience as a differentiator. The old rules of customer service no longer apply. Service providers today need to deliver fast, easy service, while ensuring that customers are treated like respected partners.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service, @Your Service, The Conversation Company

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After hiking the price of their joint DVD mailing and instant streaming service without any knowledge from their customers, Netflix recently announced that it will be splitting into two separate companies. It will continue to offer its internet streaming service under its original name and logo. As of last week, it has decided to offer its original service, DVDs through the mail, under a new name and company, “Qwikster.”

I recently received the following stock e-mail from Netflix co-founder and CEO, Reed Hastings: “It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing. It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.”

I myself have been a devoted Netflix member for over 4 years. I was thoroughly excited at the prospect of their instant streaming service, and their ability to continue their great customer relations and low prices. Unfortunately, I do feel that the recent chain of events and consistent lack of dialogue with their customers has shown little respect for the immense member base that has led to their tremendous success. I only learned of their sudden price increase due to my credit card bill showing that my Netflix charge had almost doubled. Moreover, there was no response to this price increase for almost an entire month.

The mass generated e-mail is a gesture in the right direction, I suppose. Netflix’s actions have gone against even the most basic rule of customer relations: the customer comes first. I wonder now how important customers truly are to the company’s overall vision, and how many the past few months of conduct will cost them.

What do you think about Netflix’s recent split?

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The concept of being first remains vital to all businesses no matter the economic conditions. Indeed, being foremost in value, sales, or market is never more important than when businesses are struggling to get by. When the economy slows, or when a recession hits, businesses must learn not only how to survive, but how to thrive in the new economic environment. With the right actions, businesses can become first in their market and dominate even in an economic contraction. Grant Cardone’s If You’re Not First, You’re Last lays out the sales ground rules to make this happen.

For a free trial of EBSCO Business Book Summaries click here.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Accelerating Out of the Great Recession, How to Sell When Nobody’s Buying, The Adversity Paradox

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C. Britt Beemer and Robert L. Shook’s The Customer Rules presents the argument that the world’s most successful companies are those with an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. According to a study conducted by America’s Research Group (ARG), 40 percent of employees feel their job has little or nothing to do with a customer. Successful companies, however, make it clear that customer satisfaction is everyone’s job. One way to do this is to make customer satisfaction part of all employees’ job description. Unless the concept is clearly spelled out, most employees will assume that serving the customer is the job of sales and marketing.

For a free trial of EBSCO Business Book Summaries click here.

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