The Ones to Read

In America, we have a surplus of books claiming they can turn any business into a service powerhouse.  This trend is quite evident if you’ve ever glanced down the aisle of business success books in your local bookstore – trust me, it’s a long aisle.  Unfortunately, many of these books are not helpful. Some simply recycle a few basic ideas. Others claim to reveal the secrets of great companies, like The Ritz-Carlton, Southwest Airlines and Nordstrom. Unfortunately, what succeeded for them may not work in other industries, namely the banking industry.
My test for a superior service book is simple. I ask, “How much of this advice can a bank apply?” That’s an admittedly narrow viewpoint but one that’s important to me and the organizations that Prime Performance helps. The good news is I’ve found a handful of worthwhile gems. So, if you’re looking for practical, ready-to-use guidance, delve into these five books:

  • “What Customers Really Want” by Scott McKain. According to McKain, American companies rarely connect with customers. His advice is clear:  quit looking at the world through your organization’s eyes. Instead, think about your operation as if you were a customer. Also, remember customer service is neither a process nor a project. It’s about making personal connections.
  • “Building Great Customer Experiences” by Colin Shaw and John Ivens. Shaw and Ivens take a unique perspective. They look at the customer service issue from an organizational position. This book shows how everything you do leads to the customer service you deliver.
  • “What’s the Secret:  To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience” by John R. DiJulius III. Here’s all you need to know about this one. It’s a road map to world-class service. The author takes you through the process step-by-step – with clarity and specificity. This is an exceptional fit for the banking industry.
  • “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless” by Jeffrey Gitomer. Be forewarned – this is a book with a lot of “attitude.” Okay, truth be told, it’s often over the top. That said, it’s still a worthwhile read. Gitomer gives good practical advice on building loyalty. He constantly presents questions to help you analyze your performance.  If you thoroughly and critically consider his questions, you’ll be amazed by what your answers reveal about your company.
  • “The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn. This is a short book with a simple premise. In fact, at first glance, it might seem simple-minded. But, it actually has some heft. The author tells the story of the great job his mailman, Fred, does for the people on his route. Fred doesn’t just deliver the mail. He takes an interest in people and makes positive emotional contact with everyone he serves. This book is about the spirit that makes great service “great” and Sanborn gives readers advice on how to help people (your employees) become “Freds.”  This is a quick, pleasant read with a winning message.

Learning from successful companies and from industry experts is a great way to improve your own organization.  This list will get you started with some great reads, and I’ll be providing in-depth book reviews and more book lists in upcoming issues of Prime Insights.