In a world of nearly limitless product options and highly educated consumers with instant access to every bit of data on price, features and benefits of almost every product, delivering consistently superior customer service is the only differentiator left for creating loyal and engaged customers.

Chapter Six puts forth an idea that is imperative to a company’ s success: you must own the voice of the customer by creating a strong and trusting bond with your customers and listening to what they want from you and your business. This customer focus, which allows you to understand your customers as well as or better than they understand themselves, is the final principle that ties all six together. Having extreme customer focus is absolutely essential for building a sustainable and highly profitable business.

Additional Resources

Articles on customer service

Several pages of great articles, tips and links on customer service:
www.about.com “Customer Service”

A good article on customer service with additional links:
money.howstuffworks.com “How Customer Service Works”

Marketing and Service Leadership

A great website on marketing and service leadership (part of the Knowledge @ Wharton system) with tons of great articles and links:
W.P. Carey

Customer Experience Matters

A great blog on “Voice of the Customer” and enriching the customer experience:
experiencematters.wordpress.com

Recommended Reading

Becoming a Category of One

Listen, anything that Joe Calloway writes is excellent. This is a fantastic book on how to differentiate your business on the basis of exceptional customer service. After you read this one, you should immediately start Calloway’s: Indispensable: How To Become The Company That Your Customers Can’t Live Without . Then, if you are like me, you’ll want to read his other book: Work Like You’re Showing Off: The Joy, Jazz, and Kick of Being Better Tomorrow Than You Were Today, which is one of you might also like to give to all of your employees. Joe does such a great job, I love his books.

Customers For Life

This is simply a customer service classic! It is the story of a car dealer who pretty much pioneered all of the standard customer service amenities at a dealership. The book does a great job of explaining the “Lifetime Value of a Customer.”

Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter

Much like Six Sigma was developed to reduce errors in manufacturing, Human Sigma describes a methodology for improving the quality of employee-customer interactions. Not a super-easy book to read but has some superb ideas and tools. Many of my clients found this book very valuable.

Quotient

The idea behind this book is that employees with an “Ownership Mentality” exhibit such enthusiasm and commitment for their organization that they infect customers with similar satisfaction, loyalty and dedication – those highly satisfied customers then run out and tell everyone they know about how great your company is! I think this is 100% on target – and a very good book.

Practice What You Preach

Maister, a professional service consultant, surveyed 6,500 employees at 50 worldwide companies to evaluate the relationship between company financial performance and employee satisfaction and loyalty. He found a direct and dramatic correlation. I found this book extremely valuable; it is one of my “must reads.”

The Starbucks Experience

A really great book on how to build a culture of extreme customer focus. Full of excellent examples, it is easy to read and gave me tons of ideas. I also strongly recommend Michelli’s other superb customer service book: The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Together, these two books will give you so many fantastic ideas and insights.

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