Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization

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Overview

Learn the Loyalty-Building Secrets of Distinguished—and Exceptionally Successful—Service Companies

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit is a book after my own heart. 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. This is the way to run a customer-focused company!” — Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Leading at a Higher Level

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Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization

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Overview

Learn the Loyalty-Building Secrets of Distinguished—and Exceptionally Successful—Service Companies

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit is a book after my own heart. 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. This is the way to run a customer-focused company!” — Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Leading at a Higher Level

“What you read here will allow you to recalibrate your business—on any scale—to truly know your customers and keep them coming back for more.” — Horst Schulze, Chairman & CEO, The West Paces Hotel Group; President and COO, ret., The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, from the Foreword

“A must-read guide on how to apply five-star service techniques to every industry and every price point.” — O. Temple Sloan, III, President, Chief Executive Officer, General Parts, Inc./CARQUEST

“This smart primer on customer service strategy is a must-read for managers and anyone interested in transforming their interactions with clients. Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon cover considerable ground—from the finer details of greeting customers or giving directions to larger strategies for training employees or maintaining customers’ trust online. Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit is a manual for winning customer loyalty that actually inspires.” — Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, Free Agent Nation, and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

“An excellent roadmap for building a customer-centered enterprise. Leonardo and Micah wittily present easy-to-implement strategies that will create a strong value proposition for your business and a great experience for your customers.” — Massimo Ferragamo, Chairman, Salvatore Ferragamo USA

“In economically difficult times, customer loyalty is a critical factor in determining who survives to sell another day and who ends up in bankruptcy court. Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon have written a wonderful, practical book that explores the interactions that build customer loyalty. It should be required reading for anyone setting out to build a new company and, equally, for seasoned business leaders wondering how to weather hard times.” — Professor Frank A. Philpot, George Mason University School of Management

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"…serves well as a primer for the new manager in a service-based industry, whether it is retail, hospitality or sales.” --Houston Business Journal

“Great advice from some world class companies….pages contain golden nuggets for companies big and small…a must read. Highly recommended.” --SBC Fulfillment.com

CEO Refresher Best Business Books of The Year 2010

“Unlike many business books, it is one part theory and two parts application. Its straightforward manner, practical examples and ready-to-use suggestions make it an invaluable resource for any company.”--Business Lexington

"From manifesting the customer’s expectations and recovering from negative customer feedback to selecting and training your staff, the book makes for an easy and essential managerial read." --The Debroff Debrief

“If creating legendary customer service is important to your business, this book provides some fascinating insights.” --National Post

"A new guru of customer service excellence is Micah Solomon." --Financial Post.com

"...gem of a book...If you want to deliver a superior client experience, then have every employee read this book…volume is simply that profound, that good.” --Prime Performance.com

“…offers lessons that are immediately applicable to any business, and can help you both attract and retain clients." clients." --Accounting Today

800-CEO-Read Top 25: What Corporate America is Reading 2011

"A wealth of actionable information packed into a short book." --The Advance Me Business blog

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814415382
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 4/7/2010
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 229,466
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

LEONARDO INGHILLERI (Roswell, GA) is Executive Vice President and Managing Partner of West Paces Consulting. A recognized expert on service, Inghilleri created The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center and Learning Institute and has played an instrumental role at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, BVLGARI, and The Walt Disney Company.

MICAH SOLOMON (Philadelphia, PA) is Founder and President of Oasis Disc Manufacturing, a leader in the entertainment and technology industries. A sought-after business advisor and speaker, his techniques and achievements have been featured in Success magazine, Seth Godin’s bestseller Purple Cow, and other publications.

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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Only Shop in the Marketplace

The best thing you can do for your business right now has nothing to

do with new technology, economies of scale, or first-mover advantage.

It’s something simpler.

It’s something more dependable.

The single best thing you can do for your business is to build true

customer loyalty, one customer at a time.

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.

Few businesses realize how valuable customer loyalty is, and even

fewer know how to achieve it consistently. But a company of any size

can build great wealth and stability through customer loyalty. Businesses

with loyal customers grow faster than others when times are good, and

they have the most breathing room when times are bad.

At its root, creating loyal customers is about taking the time to learn

about your customers individually and then using simple systems to turn

that knowledge into enduring business relationships. In doing so, you

turn your offering into much more than a commodity—you turn it into

a personal relationship.

The primary threat to a business today is the perception by customers

that all you offer is a replaceable, interchangeable commodity. This

hazard stalks your every move: No matter how unbreachable your business’s

advantages may appear right now, whether they are advantages of

technology, geography, or branding, eventually your business model is

going to be knocked off. And, in this era of accelerating change, it will

likely happen sooner than you think.

Escape this threat of commoditization by creating enduring, loyal,

human relationships with customers. It’s the surest way to escape market

obsolescence.

The payoff is huge.

Learning to create loyal customers has made all the difference for

the companies where Leonardo has been involved, including The Ritz-

Carlton, BVLGARI, The Walt Disney Company, and the new hotel

brands—Capella and Solis—that Leonardo heads up with his partners.

The principles that lead to loyal customers will work for you, too.

They’re simple, they’re solid, and they’re replicable. You needn’t work

in a luxury industry to apply them. Far from it.

As you’ll learn, Micah used the principles of loyalty to transform a

tiny manufacturing and entertainment services company he started in a

single room in his basement, with financing that consisted of only a

credit card, into a renowned and high-growth enterprise. His approach

built his company, Oasis, into one of the top players in its field, as well

as attracting attention in the business literature, including case studies in

such places as Success magazine and Seth Godin’s bestseller Purple Cow.

Oasis catapulted to success because customers respond with loyalty

when you treat them according to the principles and methods we will

describe.

Since then, Leonardo and Micah have been able to lend their

loyalty-based methodology to a great diversity of industries: from white

shoe law firms to restaurants to banks to organic flower farms; from

tour operators to independent music labels to convention centers to

hospitals. Loyalty pays off—measurably—for all of them.

The reward for using these principles isn’t only financial. As you

begin building customer loyalty, your pride in your profession, your

integrity, and your ability to build positive relationships (at work, and

even in your own home) will also bloom. This happens naturally, because

the process of earning loyalty involves caring about your customers,

respecting them, and thinking constantly about their needs.

Spending this time being deeply attentive will tone your personality.

Building customer loyalty will require your hard work and

thoughtfulness, but it is a refreshingly straightforward process. While

so many aspects of business are out of your control—exchange rates,

international tension, technological changes—the single most important

process, creating loyal customers, obeys predictable, stable rules that can

be mastered and then applied successfully for a lifetime.

We’re pleased to help show the way.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Special Features xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Foreword by Horst Schulze xv

Introduction:

The Only Shop in the Marketplace 1

Chapter One:

The Engineer on the Ladder: Reaching for the Highest

Level of Service 4

Chapter Two:

The Four Elements of Customer Satisfaction:

Perfect Product, Caring Delivery, Timeliness, and an

Effective Problem Resolution Process 7

Chapter Three:

Language Engineering: Every. Word. Counts. 14

Chapter Four:

Recovery! Turning Service Failures Around 26

Chapter Five:

Keeping Track to Bring Them Back: Tracking Customer

Roles, Goals, and Preferences 45

Chapter Six:

Building Anticipation Into Your Products and Services:

Putting Processes to Work for You 59

Chapter Seven:

Your People: Selection, Orientation, Training, and

Reinforcement 84

Chapter Eight:

Leadership: Guiding the Customer-Centered

Organization 101

Chapter Nine:

What’s Worth it, and What’s Not? Pointers on Value,

Costs, and Pricing 108

Chapter Ten:

Building Customer Loyalty Online: Using the Internet’s

Power to Serve Your Customers and Your Goals 115

Chapter Eleven:

Hello/Good-Bye: Two Crucial Moments with a

Appendixes 145

Appendix A:

Oasis Disc Manufacturing: Customer and Phone

Interaction Guidelines and Lexicon Excerpts 147

Appendix B:

CARQUEST Standards of Service Excellence 153

Appendix C:

Capella Hotels and Resorts ‘‘Canon Card’’: Service

Standards and Operating Philosophy 155

Notes 159

Index 162

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First Chapter

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit

The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization
By Leonardo Inghilleri Micah Solomon

AMACOM

Copyright © 2010 Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8144-1539-9


Chapter One

The Engineer on the Ladder

Reaching for the Highest Level of Service

Suppose you're the manager of a group of hotels. In one of them, a maintenance engineer is replacing a light bulb in the lobby ceiling. Out of the corner of his eye he notices a woman and her two sons coming from the pool, wrapped in towels but still dripping wet. The woman has her hands full with bags. She fumbles with the door that leads into the lobby, looking exasperated. The man on the ladder becomes alert to her predicament, puts down his tools, climbs down, crosses the lobby, smiles, and opens the door for her.

"Welcome back to the hotel, ma'am," he says. "Let me help you with your bags. How was the pool? Did your two little guys have a good time? What floor are you going to?" He presses the button, exits the elevator, and heads back toward his ladder.

When we spin this story out for executives and managers in our seminars, the most common first reaction is envy: "I'd be thrilled to have my rank and file achieve this level of customer service," runs a typical response. "The customer expressed a need, and 'my' employee responded energetically," says a manager. "He got off the ladder rather than saying 'That's not my job.' So what's not to like?"

It's true: We've all seen worse. But there's still plenty to dislike. As upbeat as this encounter was, it was reactive: The woman had to fumble with the door, thereby making her frustration known so the engineer would react. Reactive service is a pretty ineffective way to create loyal customers. To get on the fast track to customer loyalty, your company needs something better.

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. That is the difference between providing hohum service by merely reacting to customer requests and building loyalty through true anticipatory service.

Function Versus Purpose

Picture this instead: What if the moment your fellow on the ladder sees the overburdened mom returning from the pool, he thinks to himself, "My routine daily function is to change light bulbs, paint ceilings, and fix pipes, but the reason I'm here, my purpose, is to help create a memorable experience for guests"? Understanding this, he immediately climbs down and opens the door for her—before she has to fumble with the door handle or knock to get attention.

The maintenance engineer—inspired by your leadership—has now provided genuine service that anticipates the customer's needs. The timing of the engineer's intervention is the only measurable change, but what a difference that tiny change makes! Suddenly this employee has anticipated a customer's need, a need she has not yet expressed. In doing so, he has honored her idiosyncratic life circumstances—her individual humanity.

This extraordinary kind of service is a highly reliable path to winning customer loyalty. In the chapters ahead we will equip you to make such service encounters the rule rather than the exception, at all levels of your company.

You probably have doubts.

You may doubt that your maintenance engineer or other rank and file worker would ever anticipate the needs of customers so masterfully. We'll show you how and why he can and will.

You may doubt that you can afford to create such lavish standards of service. As one of our students put it, "In one of Leonardo's five-star resorts, I can see it, maybe. But in Micah's bootstrapped ventures—how does he pull off that level of service? As for my own company, I need my maintenance workers to stay up on their ladders, thank you very much!"

Actually, creating extraordinary service systems is a cost-effective proposition for almost any business: the natural outcome of a systematic approach to customers. And such service pays great dividends in reasonably short order.

First Steps First

Before we get to the creation of those all-important loyal customers through anticipatory service, we'd like to ensure you've pinned down a more basic initial step: creating simple customer satisfaction. We'll head there first.

Chapter Two

The Four Elements of Customer Satisfaction

Perfect Product, Caring Delivery, Timeliness, and an Effective Problem Resolution Process

There's not much point in taking a specialized upper-level course before you've studied the field's introductory concepts. In a similar vein, there are prerequisites to meet before you can learn to provide extraordinary, loyalty-building customer service.

First, become adept at meeting the more fundamental expectations of your customers. That is, learn to make them satisfied.

What does a satisfied customer look like? She thinks your business offers a reasonable solution that it delivers well. If asked, she'll say nice things about you. But although she may have some warm feelings for your business, she's not yet an advocate for your brand, and, unlike a truly loyal customer, she can still be wooed away. A merely satisfied customer is still a free agent, exploring the marketplace.

She still has a wandering eye.

Nonetheless, simple customer satisfaction is one of the underpinnings of the exceptional relationship we call true customer loyalty. And, fortunately, customer satisfaction is based on four predictable factors. Customers are satisfied whenever they consistently receive:

1. A perfect product

2. Delivered by a caring, friendly person

3. In a timely fashion ... with (because any of those three elements may misfire)

4. The support of an effective problem resolution process

A Perfect Product

Customers want defect-free products and services. You need to design your product or service so that it can be expected to function perfectly within foreseeable boundaries.

Things will sometimes go wrong. Your products, and people, will sometimes fail due to unpredictable circumstances. But sloppy or incomplete product or service design is, from a customer's perspective, intolerable.

Suppose you're staffing an online photo lab. Let's call it Stutterfly. You know from experience that one prepress technician (PPT) is needed for every 100 orders in-house. Now suppose you want to be ready for a maximum of 1,000 photo orders at any given time. How many prepress technicians do you need? Ten? Perhaps. But a "perfectly designed" answer needs to take into account absenteeism, last minute no-shows, and vacation time: any reasonably foreseeable scenario that could prevent you from actually having ten PPTs on hand to cover the orders in-house. In addition, your "perfect design" needs to include provisions for getting these technicians all the supplies, tools, resources, and information they'll need to do a great job.

Of course, something that is not realistically foreseeable could still happen: six of your ten PPTs might get the flu on the same night, or a major earthquake could knock a paper mill that supplies you out of commission. The product will not always be perfectly deliverable. We know.

But you must design it to be perfect—foreseeing all that is foreseeable.

Delivered by Caring People

Your perfect product now requires caring, friendly people to deliver it. Let's visualize just how a product and its delivery work together to determine satisfaction. Let's make the setting Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Picture featureless corridors, long ticket counters, and the reason you wish you didn't have to exchange your ticket a few days before Thanksgiving: a maze of people waiting behind a roped line to speak with any of five agents. Eventually, you make it to the front of the maze. Now you're first in line, waiting politely for an agent at the counter to help you.

What do you hear?

"Next!"

Hmmm. As you approach the agent, you see that her "Next" was premature.

So you stand there, waiting for her to finish the previous transaction.

Finally she finishes keyboarding, looks at you, and says curtly: "Yes?"

You answer, "My plans have changed. Would it be possible to exchange this ticket so I can fly to Washington Dulles?"

"Uh huh ..."

She takes your ID, gives you your boarding pass—and never looks up at you.

"Next!"

You take the boarding pass, go through security, get on the plane, and land safely and on time at your destination. So, you got a perfect product: a product that would appear, if anyone charted it out, to be 100 percent free of defects.

But do you feel satisfied?

Of course not.

OK. Now let's change the script. Same airport, same maze, same line of people ahead of you in the maze. Again, you eventually make it to the front of the line, where you quietly wait for an agent to call on you.

"May I help the next person in line, please?" (You step forward.)

"Good morning, Sir. Thank you for your patience. How are you today?"

"Not bad at all, thanks, considering, and how are you?"

"Just fabulous. How may I assist you today?"

"My plans have changed, and I need to get on a flight to Washington Dulles."

"It'll be my pleasure. I hear the weather isn't actually too bad in the D.C. area this weekend. Are you visiting family for Thanksgiving?"

"No, it's just business. But I'll be flying back right afterward and will get home for the holiday." (She checks your ID and hands you your boarding pass.)

"Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

"No, I think that's all."

"Well then, have a splendid day."

"Thank you very much."

"Thank you for flying with us."

How was this interaction? It was great, right? An interaction like this, with just a single caring, friendly employee, can make us feel good about doing business with an entire company.

Now you get through the long security line and to the gate. Only at that point do you notice your boarding pass says Dallas, not Dulles.

Uh ... now are you satisfied?

Again, no—not with a defective product or service, no matter how warmly delivered.

In a Timely Fashion

In our world of iPhones and IM, your customers get to decide what is and isn't an appropriate timeline. A perfect product delivered late by friendly, caring people is the equivalent of a defective one.

Customer experiences guide their expectations, so on-time delivery standards continue to get tougher all the time. What your customer today thinks of as on-time delivery is not only stricter than what her parents would have tolerated, it's stricter than what even her older sister would have tolerated.

Amazon.com's tight supply and delivery chain has single-handedly raised the timeliness bar in the online world, but that's not the end of the story: Their speedy online delivery has raised offline expectations as well. In fact, the concept of special ordering for walk-in customers is obsolete for most brick-and-mortar merchants. If you don't have it in stock when a customer walks in, a customer's just going to go online and find it for herself.

This impatience rule can only be disregarded when a customer is commissioning something truly custom, something specially made by you for her alone, such as fine art, cabinetry, or a gourmet meal. In fact, for some truly custom items, providing something too quickly can be equated by customers with low quality or prefab work. The trick here is the same: Learn your own customers' definition of "on time," and obey that definition—not your own.

With the Support of an Effective Problem Resolution Process

Service breakdowns and other problems experienced by customers are crucial emotional moments in a business relationship. Therefore, solving these problems will have an outsized impact on your business success. That's why you need an effective problem resolution process.

Effective problem resolution sounds like a modest goal. But so does reaching base camp—until you find out you're climbing Denali. A big reason it's so tough? Effective cannot be measured by whether you have restored the situation to the pre-problem status quo. Effective is measured by whether you have restored customer satisfaction.

This can be challenging, but it's well worth it. Resolve a service problem effectively and your customer is more likely to become loyal than if she'd never run into a problem in the first place. (On this point, our studies and practical experience are 100 percent conclusive.) Why is this so? Because until a problem occurs, the customer doesn't get to see us fully strut our service. Of course, we would never recommend that you make mistakes on purpose so you can engineer a splendid recovery and win yourself some client love in the process. But it is a silver lining to keep in mind when you're staring down a problem.

The topic of effective problem resolution, especially the handling of service breakdowns, is so crucial that it will fill all of Chapter Four. First though, we need to explore a fundamental tool: language. Because no matter what lengths you go to for your customers, if you don't use the right words with them, they'll never appreciate how good they have it. Language is crucial to how a customer experiences your business, which makes it a critical element of your brand. It's the next stop on our itinerary.

Chapter Three

Language Engineering

Every. Word. Counts.

Your company has probably given more thought to the language it uses in marketing campaigns than to the words employees use when having conversations face-to-face with customers. That's a mistake, because customers don't generally get their make-or-break impressions of your company from high-minded branding exercises. They get them primarily from day-to-day conversations with you. And those are the impressions they spread to others.

Language underlies all other components of customer satisfaction. For example:

* A perfect product won't be experienced as perfect unless you also use the right language in describing it to customers.

* Even your most well-intentioned and technically flawless employees can alienate customers if they use the wrong language.

* When you have a service failure, the right words can be your best ally.

If you haven't given much thought to selecting and controlling your company language—what your staff, signage, emails, voicemails, and web-based autoresponders should say, and should never say, to customers—it's time to do it now.

Establish a Consistent Style of Speech

No brand is complete until a brand-appropriate style of speaking with customers is in place at all levels of the enterprise. You should therefore work to achieve a consistent style of service speech.

A distinctive and consistent companywide style of service speech won't happen on its own. You'll need social engineering: that is, systematic training of employees. Imagine, for example, that you've selected ten promising salespeople for your new high-end jewelry boutique. You've provided them with uniforms and stylish haircuts and encouraged them to become your own brand's versions of a Mr. or Ms. Cartier, starting on opening day. But they'll still speak with customers much the way they speak in their own homes: that is, until you've trained them in a different language style.

Happily, "engineering" a company-wide style of speech can be a positive, collaborative experience. If you approach this correctly, you won't need to put a gag on anybody or twist any arms. Once everybody in an organization understands the reasons for language guidelines, it becomes a challenge, not a hindrance. The improved customer reactions and collaborative pride of mission are rewarding. As a consequence, our clients have found it to be a pretty easy sell companywide.

Here's how to make it happen.

Create a Lexicon of Preferred Language and Phrasing

To help launch their Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel brand, initially, founding President and Chief Operating Officer Horst Schulze and his team decided on a set of ideal phrases for use in conversation with customers, then trained employees to use those phrases. The frequent use of certain phrases helped unify their employees around a shared identity and contributed to a distinctive "Ritz style" that the public could easily recognize: phrases like "My pleasure," "Right away," "Certainly," and—a personal favorite—"We're fully committed tonight." (Translation: "We're booked solid, bub!") The list of words and phrases to be avoided included folks, hey, you guys, and okay.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit by Leonardo Inghilleri Micah Solomon Copyright © 2010 by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Secrets of Ritz-Carlton from the original creators -- applied to real-life business situations & realities of post-Internet era. Most valuable to me: customer retention, hiring, survey tips & hilarious tips for dealing w/irate customers.

    I recently got my hands on an early copy of "Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit" and want to take a minute to recommend this useful --and very enjoyable -- book.

    Obviously, books on customer service and the customer experience can veer toward the redundant, or be full of consultant-speak, or just be kind of "meh." Which is why it's refreshing when you find the ones that are hands-on, opinionated, and full of surprising insider tidbits you can't find elsewhere.

    And that is where this book shines.

    The original creators of The Ritz-Carlton themselves outline, in the first person, their methods, including customer experience, hiring, training, survey methods, leadership, easy-to-implement continuous improvement and more. The info comes straight from the mouths of Leonardo Inghilleri who created the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Institute and the legendary Horst Schulze who more than anyone else is considered to BE the Ritz-Carlton in modern history.

    But that's not the book's only appeal. What put the book over the top for me is the way they wrote it as a back-and-forth collaboration with bootstrapping entrepreneur Micah Solomon (Oasis Disc Manufacturing) -- who I'd read about in Seth Godin's "Purple Cow." The result is a funny, up to date, internet-savvy tome that is as helpful to an online startup as to a traditional hospitality venture.

    I especially enjoyed reading the chapters on Language and the difference it makes (and some of the hilarious background they give on how it came to be at the Ritz and elsewhere), and the effective and easy to implement techniques they offer for pacifying an upset customer. (Hint: comfort an upset customer like they were a toddler with a skinned knee. No, that's not all there is to it, not hardly, but that's where it starts.)

    The examples used here are very well picked, and, again, often show insider information. This book is kind of the antithesis of the "survey method" books out there where someone with a theory goes and picks companies (with whom they have no relationship) to prove their theory--and then, 5 years later, you can look back and find out that really those companies didn't actually thrive in the way the author thought they would. I especially enjoyed the tidbits from Charlie Trotter's (re. the REST ROOMS!) , Thomas Keller (again some gentle bathroom humor), scrappy little CD retailer CD Baby, and more.

    One more thing: for soft-hearted customer guys, the authors are pretty hard headed about encouraging you to learn from manufacturing processes as well, something I appreciated.

    The level of generosity in resources provided here is unusual as well. Very, very detailed (but never stuffy) information on how to write surveys that work, how to script your own "lexicon" (language do's and don'ts guide), and much more. They even include their own guides from their own businesses --Inghilleri & Shulze's uber-luxurious Capella hotels and Solomon's entertainment industry Oasis Disc Manufacturing, as well as Carquest and others -- in the appendix for your reference.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Everything you need to build a business that is extraordinary at customer service

    Like the reviewer above, I was struck by the impressive variety of big name endorsements this book got:

    --from"new work" pundit Daniel Pink ("Drive," etc.)
    --from old-school customer service and management writer Ken Blanchard ("Raving Fans," "One Minute Manager," etc.)
    --from cyber-guru Seth Godin (who also writes about "Exceptional Service" co-author Micah Solomon in his blog sometimes)
    -- from Ritz-Carlton creator Horst Schulze (who also was apparently generally involved with and gave his blessing to this project)

    Now that I've spent a week reading and trying out the concepts in this book, I understand why these people from different but overlapping backgrounds all appreciated this book. Most other books on this subject (and I must have read a dozen) either tread dangerously close to a silly "smile, smile smile" philosophy lacking any hard dose of facts (try finding specific actionable data on how to survey your customers in some of the self-promotion-minded schlock out there), or -- just as bad -- lack any philosophical backbone at all when it comes to talking about how to hire, encourage, and lead your all-important employees.

    This book, on the other hand, stays entirely away from stuff that only SHOULD work, and sticks to stuff that DOES work--over and over, in the experience of the authors and in businesses they are close to. Plus, it is impassioned when it comes to philosophy: the philosophy that has been behind a string of successful businesses for both of the writers.

    Furthermore, a dirty little secret of most of the customer service books out there is that they really don't address the realities of the Internet--unless those books are *exclusively* about the Internet (in which case the writing tends to exceedingly blow). This book, on the other hand, truly does tackle Internet customer service in a useful manner--both as an entity unto itself (with superpowers which must be respected) and as an entity which needs to respect the humanity of its users, just as is needed in the world of terrestrial-based commerce. This book handles these issues masterfully, presumably due to Solomon's involvement (making excellent use of quotations from Seth Godin and some neat and surprising examples from businesses ranging from Netflix to a humble and hypothetical carpet-cleaning startup).

    Another quick note: these guys can actually write. And in my experience, the better a business book is written, with carefully crafted sentences and paragraphs and well-organized pages, the better the concepts can be retained--and referred back to.

    Of all the books I've bought on improving relations with customers, "Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit" is the most useful I've come across so far. Frankly, it's one of the most useful, period, on how to improve my business in general: profit-wise and sustainability-wise. I think you'll have the same impression.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Superb, practical book on building customer loyalty and transforming a business

    I ordered this book due to endorsements in an American Management Association catalog from some of my favorite writers:

    * Daniel Pink
    * Ken Blanchard
    * Seth Godin.

    It gets my interest up when I hear Daniel Pink and Seth Godin endorsing the same book, but especially combined with Blanchard (who tends to be of a somewhat different school) I thought this might be worth checking out.

    When the book arrived I was pleased to find it to be a non-academic and non-plodding read (it's actually written much more like a real book than a business book), and in fact I polished off much of it that night.

    More importantly, I've already started to think through using this information here at my company: this morning I started figuring out how to adapt Solomon's appendix on telephone conversational phrasing to my own telephone scripting here at my company. A likely next step that I'll tackle based on the book's recommendations is to develop my own "language lexicon" as described in the chapter "Language Engineering: Every. Word. Counts." The clear description by the authors as to how to fix off-brand language in a company (and we certainly have that issue here at mine) was eye-opening.

    I believe, like the authors, that the right people treated correctly are at the heart of any customer-centered organization, and this book is both philosophical and practical-minded on this point. The authors provide several chapters of clear-cut guidelines for how to improve hiring, onboarding and employee-reinforcement procedures, as well as discussing leadership and its importance in a great organization.

    This book is a well-executed balance of up-to-the-minute Online/Internet-related information
    ("Building Customer Loyalty Online: Using the Internet's Power to Serve Your Customers and Your Goals") and more generalized customer-related information
    ("The Four Elements of Customer Satisfaction: Perfect Product, Caring Delivery, Timeliness, and an Effective Problem Resolution Process").

    Some chapters are purely practical (the great, detailed chapter "Keeping Track to Bring Them Back: Tracking Customer Roles, Goals, and Preferences" for example) and some provide more philosophical underpinning (including the opening chapter: "The Engineer on the Ladder: Reaching for the Highest Level of Service" where the authors introduce their anticipatory service method of building customer loyalty.)

    The anecdotes from Solomon's entrepreneurial ventures and related observations (he punctuates one chapter with a lesson from--of all places--"The Sopranos" HBO series: "Shut Up Sometimes: The Artie Bucco Principle" and explains point by point how he keeps humanity and warmth in his own company operations) and Inghilleri's luxury enterprises and background (the "Italian Mama Method" of handling upset customers and the many behind-the-scenes glimpses of the creation and growth of The Ritz-Carlton) are both illuminating and sometimes downright hilarious.

    Of course, not all books fit all situations or all readers, but I give Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization my highest recommendation if you read business books for the reasons I do: to build a better, more profitable, more economically sustainable business--and maybe enjoy the read along the way.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Buy this Book

    If you are in the service business, buy this book and read it...now. Quit reading the reviews and go get it. After reading it, change how you conduct your business & watch the results.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Brilliantly Written, Eminently Practical

    This is really the book on customer service, successful leadership, and systematic business development that I've been waiting for. Combining insights from Solomon's high tech pursuits and impressive behind-the-scenes info from The Ritz-Carlton, Netflix, Zappos, CD Baby, etc., "Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit" is really a winner.

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  • Posted October 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Top-notch customer service manual

    What Apple is to innovation and Rolex is to quality Ritz-Carlton is to service. Consider the luxury hotel chain's famous $2,000 customer-satisfaction pledge. This remarkable program, now in place for decades, allows any Ritz-Carlton employee, regardless of rank, to decide alone to spend up to $2,000 to resolve any customer problem. To date, no Ritz-Carlton employee has felt it necessary to spend the full amount on behalf of a customer, but many take creative action to address problems promptly. This policy sends a powerful signal to Ritz-Carlton clients and employees about how much the company values quality and service. In their book, service experts Micah Solomon and Leonardo Inghilleri teach you how to plan and implement an exceptional service program. getAbstract cheers this nicely written book. It is a pleasure to read and it explains exceptional service clearly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This book seems uniquely helpful to me at improving a company's service culture--and bottom line results.

    Like many things that are true, the information contained in Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit seems so clear and logical that it should be self-evident. The authors illustrate how, no matter the size or field of your company, providing exceptional customer service is a direct and reliable way to create loyalty, repeat business, and ultimately, profits. You would find few people in business who would disagree with this premise outright, yet they still seem in desperate need of this book: it's all too easy to observe that the customer service interactions at the average businesses of our time are poor-to-medium at best, and that the exceptional customer service outlined in this book is so rare as to be almost grail-like in its elusiveness.

    That's where Inghilleri and Solomon step in. With wit and style, in clear, easy-to-read prose, they use their insider knowledge, ranging from entertainment industry/high-tech start-ups to companies they've been integral to such as The Ritz-Carlton to explain exactly HOW to create legendary customer service in a step-by-step way. The book has chapters on a variety of key subjects, such as creating great customer service online, selecting and training staff for optimal service, turning service failures into opportunities, and creating customer-centered organizations.

    They also are generous with specific, crucial information on items that might otherwise remain overlooked in the customer-care canon, such as how to effectively create and administer surveys and feedback forms. You can read it straight through (and it's an entertaining, fast-paced read) or flip to the chapters most relevant to your business.

    With relevant quotations that range from Homer to Homer Simpson (truly!) and a bevy of real-world examples, Solomon/Inghilleri illustrate their points in memorable and often humorous ways.

    Whether you have one employee or one hundred, this book shows that whatever else may or may not be within your control in these unpredictable economic times, creating exemplary customer service is something businesses on every level can implement to create customer loyalty--and by extension, a more thriving business--for a lifetime.

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