Monday, May 2, 2011

Upset Customers Can Become Your BEST Customers – A Primer for Great Customer Service

Customer service experts Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest have written an excellent guidebook to improve your customer service. Well, maybe, “improve” is not the correct verb. Maybe, the visual should be “hit a home run” with your customer service. In Who’s Your Gladys, How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer Into Your Biggest Fan, ten companies are featured alongside numerous situations that present opportunities for better customer service.

Readers are presented with practical points, lessons learned, and recap questions and answers for each chapter – there are even empty spaces in the book for the reader to write his or her comments. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to hit a home run with his or her company’s customer service.

From the first two pages in the foreword by Stewart Emery, author of Success Built to Last, two points became clear. The first was a question that would remain throughout the book: “Do your customers care if you live or die? You definitely want that answer to be yes.” The second was the concept that tomorrow’s CEO may really be a Chief Experience Officer – and despite how technology evolves, people will still value the businesses that understand, value, and provide excellent customer service.

Each chapter presented a myriad of service lessons. How would your company’s marketing, sales, or customer service department answer my favorite questions?

  • How do you handle an abrasive customer who pushes all your buttons?
  • What is the best approach to dealing with unusual customer requests?
  • Why is it important to create experiences that delight and amaze customers?
  • Why is it important to be consistent in the way you present your services?
  • Why should you learn about your customers’ unique preferences?
  • What is the best way to communicate with customers during a crisis?
  • What’s the most important thing to remember about your loyal customers?
  • How do you motivate employees to provide service excellence?

An interesting aspect of the interview process for Singapore Airlines was shared in the chapter entitled, “The Tea Service Tells the Story.” A group of potential hires was led into a conference room and asked to wait – hiring managers watched from an adjoining room through one-way glass. In the conference room, chairs were placed against the walls, but there was a table in the middle of the room with a tea pot and cups. The hiring managers wanted to see who would start conversations and serve tea to others, because those were the people who demonstrated a commitment to service that Singapore Airlines expects of its employees.

There were extra resources at the end of the book, but the best was a complete list of Practical Points, also available at

More about the Book:

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