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The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service

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  • Posted March 26, 2013

    The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential rules for Delivering Sensat

    The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential rules for Delivering Sensational Service 
    by Lee Cockerell 

    How do you “do” customer service? Lee Cockerell, former executive vice president of Disney World, walks the reader through 39 rules for providing a superior experience to customers that will guarantee a high rate of returns. 

    Cockerell’s writing is crisp and clear. Every chapter is another of the thirty-nine rules, and I think the longest chapter was all of seven pages long. He gets to the point, but he also illustrates with plenty of examples from his own life or other companies. He applies the rules to high-level executives and fast-food workers. He makes it clear that no matter your job, you can apply his rules and give the customer great service. His conversational tone keeps things moving in a friendly and encouraging way. 

    Wait a second – I'm a pastor! Why am I reviewing a book clearly aimed at someone trying to climb a corporate ladder or get more customers into their store? 

    You could argue that everything a pastor does is customer service. Granted, what we are “selling” is completely free: It’s the water of life, given freely by my “boss” Jesus. However, there are a number of parallels, and I know a number of pastors that glean good info from business writing. (Incidentally, I use a lot of Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in my everyday life.) 

    Of course, a pastor needs to be careful reading this (just like any “church executive”). Not every rule applies well. “Never say no” would be a rule well worth tossing out; there are times a pastor must stand with God’s Word and simply say ‘no.’ “Be nice” is another rule I’d say to throw out. Be loving, yes. Be nice? Not so much. There’s too much room for serving the person at the expense of serving Jesus. He comes first, right? 

    On the other hand, many of the rules I read helped me. I considered “customers” to be anyone I serve, from the church council to the little old ladies to visitors in the church. What I found was that I serve certain groups of people far better than others. I’m very visitor-oriented, to the point that this book reminded me I was ignoring my “executives” – the church council. I haven’t served them well outside of times of crisis. God used the book to remind me to serve them, too – and I’m putting my money where my mouth is. In about a month, I’ve already scheduled to have them and their families all over to my place for a non-meeting meal. 

    Rule #11 hit me hard as well: “Become an expert at creating experts.” I love teaching God’s Word, and I’m constantly encouraging my people to do the same. But I’m not great at following up on that. 

    Many of Cockerell’s rules really repeat the same information in new ways or with different applications, but he wisely switches up focus. In a way, the book reminds me of Proverbs – some repetition, but enough variation that it merely enforced the main messages rather than grew tedious. 

    There’s some good food for thought here for ministers on how to serve visitors, but even more how to serve their members. It’s worldly wisdom, but wisdom that can be applied. I’m sure there are more focused books out there for ministers, but Cockerell’s friendly style, to-the-point delivery, and lively examples may help especially young ministers (like me!). I’d recommend checking it out from a library or picking it up from your local bookstore if you want a simple quick read to get you thinking on your own “customer service.” 

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