Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit

Authors Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon are right!  Exceptional service does lead to exceptional profits.  In this gem of a book, they offer solid theory and practical tips that can make your organization a service powerhouse.  Whether you’re the chief executive officer, a mid-level manager or a frontline employee, this book has advice that you can use – today.

“Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit” is concentrated wisdom.  The authors pack much wisdom into a mere 157 pages.  This book touches on every aspect of how to deliver great customer service from the role of leadership to leveraging the Internet’s power.  If you want to deliver a superior client experience, then have every employee read this book.  That’s what we’ve done.  This volume is simply that profound, that good.

Both men know their topic well.  Leonardo is the executive vice president and managing partner of West Paces Consulting, which helps organizations achieve service excellence.  He also was an executive with Ritz-Carlton and Walt Disney Company.  Solomon is a customer service expert, entrepreneur, speaker and author.

“Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit” focuses on one big idea – loyalty.  It touches on two types – customer and employee.  Loyalty grows from terrific service focused on customers’ needs and desires.  That service must be delivered by engaged employees empowered with knowledge, skill and freedom of action.  When a company creates loyalty, the payoff is huge.  As the authors explain: “Everything changes when a customer becomes a loyalist. To the truly loyal customer, you are the only shop in the marketplace. All the other brands and all the other vendors don’t even come into focus. Like someone in love, the loyal customer only has eyes for you.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, many firms don’t understand the link between customer loyalty and the role it plays in profits.  The key to bonding your firm with your customers, say Inghilleri and Solomon, is to view your customers as individuals and then gear everything you do to building an enduring relationship with them.  It’s impossible to touch on every compelling idea in this book.  However, the following ones are especially noteworthy:

Customer satisfaction is key.  Four factors must be in place for this to occur:

  1. a perfect product;
  2. delivered by a caring, friendly person;
  3. in a timely fashion; with
  4. the support of an effective problem resolution process because mistakes do happen.

Language matters.  The authors show how an organization can adopt a new “vocabulary” when talking to customers.  This gives frontline employees a powerful way to build one-on-one relationships that will stand the test of time – and the occasional and inevitable slip-ups.

Recovery is possible when mistakes occur.  This requires only four steps, which the authors explain in detail.  These are:

  1. apologize and ask for forgiveness;
  2. review the complaint with the customer;
  3. fix the problem and follow up; and
  4. document the problem in detail to allow you to fix the defect permanently by identifying trends.

Say “hello” and “goodbye” properly.  The authors tell you how to do both well and why doing so offers two opportunities with each customer encounter to build loyalty and profits.

In the end, by following all the advice – or perhaps by following just most of it even — you can make great things occur at your organization.  “The magic happens when you, your systems, and the employees throughout the ranks of your business anticipate the needs of your customers, learning to recognize and respond to the needs of your customers before they are expressed – sometimes before your customers even realize they have a need,” write Inghilleri and Solomon. “That is the difference between providing ho-hum service by merely reacting to customer requests and building loyalty through true anticipatory service.”