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Title & Author: Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon
Genre: Business, Customer Service
Synopsis (from Amazon):
In a tight market, your most powerful growth engine and your best protection from competitive inroads is this: put every thing you can into cultivating true customer loyalty. Loyal customers are less sensitive to price competition, more forgiving of small glitches, and, ultimately, become “walking billboards” who will happily promote your brand. In ‘Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit’ insiders Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon reveal the secrets of providing online and offline customer service so superior it nearly guarantees loyalty. Their anticipatory customer service approach was first developed at The Ritz-Carlton as well as at Solomon’s entertainment and technology company Oasis, and has since proven itself in countless companies around the globe from luxury giant BVLGARI to value-sensitive auto parts leader Carquest, and everywhere in between. Now, readers can take the techniques that minted money for these brands and apply them directly to their own businesses. As Ken Blanchard writes, “Leonardo and Micah’s philosophies, rules, and winning examples of service excellence will make you want to implement their suggestions immediately in your own organization.” Filled with detailed, behind-the-scenes examples, the book unlocks a new level of customer relationship that leaves your competitors in the dust, your customers coming back day after day, and your bottom line looking better than it ever has before.
Having just finished Delivering Happiness, I was curious to see how Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit would compare in tone or overall customer service message. While some of the points in the books are similar, I’m very happy to have read both. Delivering Happiness goes into a lot of detail about Tony Hsieh’s history, the origins of Zappos, and the importance of business culture. ESEP, on the other hand, sticks pretty closely to the theme of building an exceptional customer service mentality in your business – and shows how that can help you with your profits as well.
Very early in the book Inghilleri and Solomon provide a list of the four primary factors of customer satisfaction. “Customers are satisfied whenever they consistently receive:
- A perfect product
- Delivered by a caring, friendly person
- In a timely fashion … with (because any of those three elements may misfire)
- The support of an effective problem resolution process.” (p.8)
Speaking from a customer perspective, I can say that I rarely get all four of those…maybe three if I’m lucky. How amazing would it be to have all four of factors constantly delivered at your local grocery store or pharmacy? The unfortunate thing I’ve found is that customer service seems most highly prized – generally – by higher-end companies which I can’t afford. ESEP really makes the point that your profits will only improve by implementing a customer service focus.
One story that stuck out to me in particular discussed the “service” you get while waiting in a doctor’s office. You’ve already checked in at the front desk and are now sitting in an uncomfortable chair for what feels like eternity. A door opens and a nurse shouts out a name. (In my case, that name will undoubtedly be mispronounced even though I just gave the correct pronunciation of my name – I promise!! – at the desk.) Recently I had a nurse shout out my last name, spoken as only one syllable instead of three. I was so sure she was calling someone else I went back to reading my book; only on the third attempt did I ask, “Do you mean ‘Cassie’?” She mumbled something back but seemed annoyed that I’d taken so long to respond – instead of apologizing for mispronouncing my name, and using my last name at that!
The book suggests a possible alternative to this “yelling out the patient’s name” system. What if the receptionist made a note of what you were wearing, your hair color, etc. and gave that note to the nurse? Then the nurse could find you in the lobby and get you instead of barking your name at the door for all to hear. In my case, perhaps the receptionist could also make a note of how my name is pronounced and they could keep that in my file. [Hint: there’s no long A.]
ESEP also goes into great detail about creating (or using pre-built) systems for keeping records on your customers’ likes and dislikes. The examples are often focused on hotels or restaurants (food allergies or preferences, which side of the bed they prefer turned down) but most companies could find some information to keep track of that would benefit their customers. Inghilleri and Solomon caution companies not to over track – the benefit of the tracking should be for the customer, not for you, and should never cause an inconvenience. They also point out that there should be a legitimate business reason for asking – if you don’t need a piece of information and the customer hasn’t offered it in passing, you shouldn’t ask.
Inghilleri and Solomon also talk about the importance of being easy to reach. With the advent of the internet, it’s very easy for companies to hide behind a wall and make it difficult for customers to find the answers–or help–that they need. The authors recommend posting your company phone number in a very visible place on your website so that it’s easy for customers (or potential customers) to find. They also recommend having lots of avenues for customer contact. Email, self-help (FAQ), and online service desk options are all fantastic. The key, as with all aspects of great service, is making sure that all of those are monitored and up to date so that anyone who contacts you gets a timely response.
Verdict: ESEP was a quick read but contained a ton of great information! While I get easily annoyed with poor customer service and try to provide excellent service however I can, there were some stories in this book that opened my eyes to situations I hadn’t previously encountered. It’s an excellent read and hugely important for business owners!
Recommended for: anyone interested in building their own customer service skills or reorienting their business to be service-focused.
Price: $12.49 (Kindle), $17.13 (hardcover), or $17.95 (Audible) on Amazon.
Author’s Note: In case you’ve been wondering, I’ve been on a quest to find books that are both interesting and helpful to my career development. I’ll be reviewing some fun, fictional works next! 🙂