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Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit


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The key to a successful business is customer loyalty. Building enduring business relationships is a timeless strategy that transcends factors that are out of a service organization’s control, including technological changes, economies of scale, and exchange rates. Solid customer loyalty serves as insurance against the risks of a commodity being viewed as replaceable or interchangeable. In Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit, Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon share a variety of strategies to help organizations make the shift from reactive to anticipatory service and build a client base that will keep coming back for more. These positive relationships can then lead to free word-of-mouth advertising and boost employee pride and morale.

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Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit

  1. 2. EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE, EXCEPTIONAL PROFIT The Secrets Of Building A Five-Star Customer Service Organization AUTHOR: Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon PUBLISHER: Amacom DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2010 170 pages
  2. 3. FEATURES OF THE BOOK In Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit , Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon share the fine-tuned loyalty-building techniques learned from their experiences in the hospitality, technology, entertainment, and other industries.
  3. 4. THE BIG IDEA In Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit , Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon share a variety of techniques pioneered by leading companies that have earned a loyal customer base
  4. 5. INTRODUCTION The key to a successful business is customer loyalty . Building enduring business relationships is a timeless strategy that transcends factors that are out of a service organization’s control, including technological changes, economies of scale, and exchange rates. Solid customer loyalty serves as insurance against the risks of a commodity being viewed as replaceable or interchangeable.
  5. 6. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED The first element of customer satisfaction is a perfect product , designed to be as defect-free as possible, and supported by a supply of staff and provisions that can maintain perfection in the face of absenteeism, service issues, and other foreseeable boundaries. Second, the product must be delivered by caring people . For example, a customer might experience the perfection of an on-time, comfortable flight, but a curt and impolite ticket agent may adversely affect that person’s satisfaction.
  6. 7. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED The final element of customer satisfaction is an effective problem resolution process. A breakdown in service or product quality can lead to an emotional moment that can make or break the relationship with a customer. Although avoiding such problems is the ideal, an effective recovery can restore and even strengthen a customer’s confidence in a business’s capabilities.
  7. 8. A CAREFUL AND THOUGHTFUL RECOVERY Although in a perfect world there would be no service failures, handing them the right way can lead to customer loyalty. The first step is the delivery of a sincere and personal apology that makes the customer feel as though he is being listened to and valued, and that the staff person is on his side. Inghilleri and Solomon recommend avoiding condescending statements such as, “If what you say is correct,” and stretching out apologies until the anger is diffused and customers express that they understand that the failure is not the staff person’s fault. Questions such as, “Did you plug it in?” can be insulting to a customer if asked too early.
  8. 9. A CAREFUL AND THOUGHTFUL RECOVERY The second step to recovery involves going over the complaint with the customer, which fosters a feeling of collaboration in fixing the problem. The third step is to “fix the problem and then follow up,” which may mean replacing the service or product. Because of the inconvenience the problem has caused, offering something extra might alleviate the customer’s sense of injustice; this could be an upgrade or additional service, or the opportunity to provide valuable feedback to help the company improve its product or practices. The three-pronged approach to following up includes:
  9. 10. A CAREFUL AND THOUGHTFUL RECOVERY The immediate , in which the staff person who fixes the problem checks in with the customer The internal , involving making other staff aware of the service failure so that they can learn from the experience or keep it in mind when dealing with the same customer, and The wrap-up , in which the staff person calls or sends a handwritten note at the end of the recovery.
  10. 11. SYSTEMATIC NOTING AND SHARING Inghilleri and Solomon outline seven key principles for building such a system: “ Keep Your Systems Simple:” The KYSS approach ensures that a company’s staff is not bogged down by too many details and difficult-to-find data. Anything important to the customer belongs in the system : Categories such as roles, goals, and preferences can keep staff apprised of what the customer shows interest or takes pride in, as well the best time of day for contact.
  11. 12. SYSTEMATIC NOTING AND SHARING The information needs to be available in real time : Being able to recognize customers when they enter the place of business and addressing them in their preferred manner decreases the risk of alienating them. Preferences can change : It is a safer bet to ask customers to confirm a preference before delivering it based on a prior assumption. Moods can change, so track them : Noting the changes in customers’ level of enjoyment over the course of their experiences can help pinpoint what can be done to improve their mood.
  12. 13. SYSTEMATIC NOTING AND SHARING Avoid a wooden delivery : Customers should be greeted and handled with enthusiasm, not with their names mispronounced or inserted in an artificial-sounding script. Use technology in a clever, not creepy manner : Avoid using intrusive questioning in online forms, make certain questions optional, or explain the reasons for asking them.
  13. 14. RECRUIT AND RETAIN THE RIGHT PEOPLE Inghilleri and Solomon believe that personality traits play a more important role than job-specific experience when it comes to finding the right staff to interact with customers. Their top five desirable traits are: Genuine personal warmth An optimistic attitude A team orientation Conscientiousness in carrying out work Empathic skill , or the ability to understand what customers are going through and interact with them accordingly
  14. 15. RECRUIT AND RETAIN THE RIGHT PEOPLE A well-planned training curriculum balances the priorities of providing anticipatory service with respecting the customer’s protective bubble, the unseeable sanctuary in which the customer expects to not be disturbed. Inghilleri and Solomon stress five principles:
  15. 16. RECRUIT AND RETAIN THE RIGHT PEOPLE Service starts at the moment the customer comes in contact with the staff person . A warm greeting must include eye contact and a smile. Learn to read the subtle verbal and non-verbal messages the customer is delivering . For example, if the customer maintains eye contact, it usually means that they are hoping to be asked if they need assistance.
  16. 17. RECRUIT AND RETAIN THE RIGHT PEOPLE Adjust to the pace of the customer . Some customers may be on a leisurely vacation while others are more stressed for time. The bubble is the sanctuary of the guest . The timing of attending to a customer depends more on the customer’s schedule than on the server’s to-do list. Closing the sanctuary door--or not . If customers do not need service, the staff person should recognize this, thank them graciously, and leave them alone.
  17. 18. A VISIONARY, SUPPORTIVE GUIDE An organization’s service production capability can be compromised before the day begins; for example, an employee could bring his preoccupation with an issue outside of work to the job. Leaders need to master the tools of constant reconnection with workers in order to keep them engaged with the organization. Inghilleri and Solomon outline what they consider to be the five most important characteristics of a strong leader: Vision : envisioning the organization’s future and direction and communicating it clearly to others. Alignment : simplifying complex or abstract ideas into a single, more accessible idea to focus the company’s efforts.
  18. 19. A VISIONARY, SUPPORTIVE GUIDE Standard Setting : establishing, implementing, and enforcing consistent, effective performance standards. Support : providing workers with the training and resources necessary to perform their tasks effectively. Motivation, recognition, and reward : encouraging employees to succeed, and celebrating and rewarding their achievements.
  19. 20. MASTER THE INTERNET TOOL Individualization can be built into a web portal in several ways. Even though most sites feature Frequently Asked Question lists that take care of many customers efficiently, there must be an option to receive more assistance if someone’s answer to “Did this answer your question?” is “no.” To deal with differences in attention spans and the amount of time customers can spend, customers can access a “short copy,” or brief description of the product or service, with an option to “learn more.”
  20. 21. MASTER THE INTERNET TOOL However, with most companies capable of supplying these self-service features, businesses need to build in more opportunities to distinguish themselves online, such as: Build in options throughout the site for personal interactions, including live chat buttons, a toll-free service number, and an “urgent email” button. Keep accessibility and sensitivity in mind when designing the site . Choose layouts that can be understood and navigated by customers of all ages and computer proficiencies, and add “alt” tags to graphic elements, so they can be read by a text reader.
  21. 22. MASTER THE INTERNET TOOL Design the self-service elements to be engaging to users . Depending on the product or service and the audience, animations, sounds, or other fun features can be built in to keep users at the site. When automated responses are needed, craft them to be personable and, if appropriate, funny . Friendly and lighthearted approaches to communicating about shipments or other notifications can leave customers with a positive impression about a company and its employees.
  22. 23. DIFFERENT ONLINE PATHS TO CUSTOMER LOYALTY The online merchant is a master of what Inghilleri and Solomon refer to as the “repetition strategy ; ” basic services are offered repeatedly to eliminate friction from the customer experience. For example, a customer’s credit card and address information is stored, enabling “one click” purchasing. The order is delivered faster because it is sent directly to UPS or another shipper, and Amazon can recommend more relevant products based on customer rankings. However, most other companies cannot take advantage of Amazon’s ability to attract high-volume shipping contracts with leading carriers or offer high salaries to attract talented programmers and security experts to stay on top of technical issues.
  23. 24. DIFFERENT ONLINE PATHS TO CUSTOMER LOYALTY A more typical business would take a different approach. For example, a rug-cleaning company could create an informational presence by offering online advice, as long as it does not overtly advertise the company’s products or services. Also, the web site could use the short copy/long copy model to introduce visitors to the company’s approach, history, technology, and staff. Computer-driven modeling can allow potential customers to compute an estimated cost of services without having to register with the site, and contact the company via a web form. These courteous approaches allow customers to interact conveniently and without personal intrusion.
  24. 25. THE POWER OF BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS Research on memory has shown that what comes at the beginning and the end is remembered the most. This is true not only for a grocery shopping list but also for interactions with customers. In many businesses, the warm greetings and heartfelt farewells from the front desk receptionist are crucial points of contact; showing recognition and appreciation for repeat customers enhances the experience. Phone calls should not be rushed. “A proper telephone answering sequence includes an appreciative greeting, a clear introduction, and a sincere offer of assistance,” Inghilleri and Solomon indicate, and ends with “a personalized farewell and a warm invitation to return.”
  25. 26. THE POWER OF BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS To be more inviting to disabled customers, businesses must consider providing more than a wheelchair ramp. Outfitting doors with “universal access” handles and making them lightly weighted can accommodate a wider range of physical challenges. On the company web site, captchas, letters or numbers presented in image form that users are required to retype in an effort to screen out hackers, should be avoided unless necessary to facilitate access by the visually impaired, and both phone and email customer service outlets should be made available.
  26. 27. THE POWER OF BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS Before moving to a proper closing with a customer, the final question should be, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” However, a “no” answer should not serve as the end of the transaction. Whenever possible or appropriate, staff should customize the closing by using the customer’s name and language reflecting prior knowledge, inviting the customer to return, offering a parting gift, and sending a follow-up note. The warm feelings and gratitude of these final gestures should encourage customers to come back again and again.
  27. 28. is a business book Summaries service. Every week, it sends out to subscribers a 9- to 12-page summary of a best-selling business book chosen from among the hundreds of books printed out in the United States. For more information, please go to ABOUT BUSINESSSUMMARIES