Managing Knock Your Socks off Service

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"In Delivering Knock Your Socks off Service, Ron Zemke gave service providers a crash course in how to care for customers.

Now, in Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service, Zemke and Chip Bell show managers how to make exemplary service "happen" in their organization over and over again.

As Zemke and Bell point out, having excellent service providers is only half of the service battle. For without support and appreciation for a good job, and the right systems to deliver what ...

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Overview

"In Delivering Knock Your Socks off Service, Ron Zemke gave service providers a crash course in how to care for customers.

Now, in Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service, Zemke and Chip Bell show managers how to make exemplary service "happen" in their organization over and over again.

As Zemke and Bell point out, having excellent service providers is only half of the service battle. For without support and appreciation for a good job, and the right systems to deliver what they've promised customers, service providers soon wither and die — or quit. And worse, customers go off in search of care.

Written for front-line managers, supervisors, and owners of small companies, Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service shows how to create good service on a day-to-day, real-time, every-time basis. Zemke and Bell present eight clear goals for ensuring superior service:

1. Find and retain quality people

2. Know your customers intimately

3. Focus your unit on a specific organizational purpose

4. Create easy-to-do-business-with delivery systems

5. Train — and support — employees

6. Involve and empower employees

7. Recognize and reward good performance

8. Set the tone and lead the way through your personal example

In spirited detail, Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service presents practical ways to achieve excellence in each of these vital areas. Chapters are filled with quotes from service standard-setters, such as Marriott, Federal Express, and Southwest Airlines.

According to Zemke and Bell: "The corporate hero of the 1990's will be the manager who understands the design, development, and delivery of high-quality service." Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service will help create a new generation of service quality heroes."

In Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service, Ron Zemke gave service-providers a crash course in how to care for customers. Now Zemke and Chip Bell show managers how to make exemplary service "happen" in their organization--over and over again.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814477847
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 1/28/1992
  • Series: Knock Your Socks off Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

"RON ZEMKE is co-author of the best-selling business book, Service America. Founder and president of Performance Research Associates, he is consultant to both Fortune 500 and small-business clients. He has written nine books, including Stressless Selling (AMACOM).

CHIP R. BELL is a partner at Performance Research Associates, where he focuses on service management consulting and team building. He has written numerous articles and eight books, including Influencing: Marketing the Ideas That Matter and Clients and Consultants."

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Imperative 1 Find and Retain Quality People 1
1 Select Slowly...and Hire Carefully 3
2 Paying Attention to Employee Retention 11
3 What Leads to Longevity? 17
Imperative 2 Know Your Customers Intimately 23
4 Good Service Is Whatever the Customer Says It Is 25
5 Good Enough...Isn't 31
6 Listening Is a Contact Sport 37
7 A Complaining Customer Is Your Best Friend 43
8 Little Things Mean a Lot 50
9 Building Service Partnerships 57
Imperative 3 Focus on "Purpose" 63
10 The Power of Purpose 65
11 Getting Your Focus Down on Paper 69
12 A Service Strategy Statement Sampler 74
Imperative 4 Make Your Service Delivery System ETDBW Easy to Do Business With 83
13 Bad Systems Stop Good People 85
14 Fix the System, Not the People 90
15 Measure and Manage From the Customer's Point of View 95
16 Add Value: The Milk and Cookies Principle 102
17 Make Recovery a Point of Pride...and a Part of Your System 107
18 If It Ain't Broke...Fix It 113
Imperative 5 Train and Support 123
19 Start on Day One When Their Hearts and Minds Are Malleable 125
20 Training Creates Competence, Confidence, and Longevity 130
21 Making Training Stick 137
22 Thinking and Acting Like a Coach 143
Imperative 6 Involve and Empower 153
23 Empowerment Is Not a Gift 155
24 Removing the Barriers to Empowerment 161
Imperative 7 Recognize, Reward, and Celebrate Success 167
25 Recognition and Reward: Fueling the Fires of Service Success 169
26 Feedback: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner of Champions 174
27 Interpersonal Feedback 180
28 Celebrate Success 184
Imperative 8 Your Most Important Management Mission: Set the Tone and Lead the Way 191
29 Observation Is More Powerful Than Conversation 193
30 Reinventing Your Service System 196
31 The Journey From Boss to Leader 201
For More Reading on Service 207
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First Chapter

Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service


By Chip R. Bell Ron Zemke

AMACOM

Copyright © 2007 Chip R. Bell and Performance Research Associates, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8144-7368-9


Chapter One

Recruit Creatively and Hire Carefully

An ounce of selection is worth a pound of training.

—R.J. Heckman Director of Talent Management, Personnel Decisions International

On Interstate 4 southwest of Orlando, Florida, a striking cream and tan building fronts the freeway. A big—very big—sign defines it in one eloquently simple word: casting. It's the Walt Disney World personnel office. That one word says a lot about not just Disney but all companies that are focused on becoming known for Knock Your Socks Off Service. They don't "hire" people for "jobs." They "cast" performers in a "role."

In service-focused companies, customer service jobs are thought of less like factory work and much more like theater. At a play, the audience files in, the curtain goes up, the actors make their entrances and speak their lines, and if each and every cast member, not to mention the writer, director, stagehands, costumers, makeup artists, and lighting technicians, have prepared themselves and the theater well, the audience enjoys the show and tells others about it. Then again, the whole production can be a magnificent flop if just one person fails to do a job on which everyone else depends.

In today's service-driven business world, you are more director than boss, more choreographer than administrator. Your front-line people are the actors, and your customers are the audience for whom they must perform. Everyone else is support crew, charged with making sure the theater is right, the sets ready, and the actors primed and prepared. You have to prepare your cast to know their cues, hit their marks, deliver their lines, and improvise when another cast member or someone in the audience disrupts the carefully plotted flow of the performance. And, of course, once the curtain goes up, all you can do is watch and whisper from the wings. You're not allowed on stage. You'd just get in the way!

Balancing Efficiency and Effectiveness

Given all the currents flowing under and around the hiring process today, the last thing you want to do is rush into a decision that can make or break how the critics, your customers, rate the quality of your service performances. Once the casting decision has been made, your entire production's reviews are going to depend on the person you've chosen for the role. It's as easy to be taken in by a handsome external facade as by a well-proportioned résumé. Neither may be truly indicative of whether someone can play the part the way you need it to be played.

Yes, the show must go on. But if you've been building a good, versatile cast, you should have understudies ready to fill in while you look for new additions to your service repertory crew. Don't rush the process. Invest the time and effort needed to get the right person. When you do, you'll find you're in good company.

In our research of companies with exemplary service practices we found painstaking thoroughness built into every step of their selection process for service employees. Rather than focusing only on metrics like cost-per-hire or time-to-fill open jobs, these organizations were just as concerned with finding the right fit—in terms of applicants' technical skills and hard-wired attributes like personality and values—for customer contact jobs. Customer-centric companies understand that success in service roles is as much about having the right temperament or the desire and emotional fortitude to deal with customers day in and out, as it is about product knowledge or mastering new technologies. While plenty of job prospects are blessed with good social skills, not all have a high level of tolerance for contact, the ability to engage in many successive short bursts of interaction with customers without become overstressed, robotic, or unempathetic.

Casting a Role, Not Filling a Job

Filling out your service cast with people who can star in their roles is the key to success. But casting your customer service play is far more involved and difficult than hiring "somebody—anybody" to sit in a chair and answer a phone or stand at a counter and take orders. Consider the following three key differences between merely filling a slot and getting someone capable of playing a part.

1. Great service performers must be able to create a relationship with the audience. From the customer's standpoint, every performance is "live" and hence unique. It earns the best reviews when it appears genuine, perhaps even spontaneous. And it should never be rigidly scripted and certainly not canned.

Implication: Customer service cast members must have good person-to-person skills; their speaking, listening, and interacting styles should seem natural and friendly and appropriate to the situation—neither stiff and formal nor overly familiar.

As Jim von Maur, president of Iowa-based Von Maur department stores, says of his own company's hiring philosophy, "My Dad had a theory: We can train them to sell. We can't train them to be nice—that was their parents' job."

2. Great service performers must be able to handle pressure. There are many kinds of pressure—pressure of the clock, pressure from customers, pressure from other players in the service cast, and pressure from the desire to do a good job for customer and the company even though the two may be in conflict.

Implication: Members of the customer service cast must be good at handling their own emotions, be calm under fire, and not susceptible to "catching the stress virus" from upset customers. At the same time, they have to acknowledge and support their customers' upsets and problems and demonstrate a desire to help resolve the situation in the best way possible.

3. Great service performers must be able to learn new scripts. They have to be flexible to adjust to changes in the cast and conditions surrounding them, make changes in their own performance as conditions warrant, and still seem natural and knowledgeable.

Implication: Customer service cast members need to be lifelong learners—curious enough to learn from the environment and the classroom, comfortable enough to be constantly looking for new ways to enhance their performance, confident enough to indulge the natural curiosity to ask, "Why is that?" and poke around the organization to learn how things really work. Those who are comfortable with change and handle it well can be the most helpful to customers and need minimal hand holding from their managers.

To get the right kind of people for your company, you have to (1) know what you're looking for and (2) how to look for it.

Eight Tips for Casting Well

1. Treat every vacancy like an open role in a play. Define the service role you are auditioning people for in terms of the part the new cast members must play and how they'll have to relate to the other members in the cast. Make people skills and technical knowledge of equal importance in your hiring.

2. Identify the skills needed for the role. Once the interview begins, it's too late to start thinking about what you want to learn. Based on the job description and your knowledge of the role you are casting, what traits or personal attributes do you want new cast members to possess? Friendliness? Competence? Empathy? Creativity? Confidence? How will you judge the presence or absence of those traits to your satisfaction? Focus the various stages of the selection process on the real-world skills demanded by the part you're trying to fill.

3. "Screen test" your applicants. Try role-playing difficult customer situations with applicants or posing "what would you do if" questions based on the kinds of situations likely to occur on the job. You don't want to listen just for "right" or "wrong" answers. You can train them to use the right words later. Listen for orientation and attitude.

Petsmart, the Phoenix, Arizona-based retailer of specialty pet products, decided to move interviews with job candidates from its back office to the sales floor as a way to better "screen test" their interpersonal skills. Managers now walk applicants around the store, periodically striking up conversations with shoppers and then stepping back to see how the applicant interacts with the customer. The company believes these impromptu "auditions" provide a valuable glimpse into how candidates would function on the job.

4. Use multiple selection methods. Remember test anxiety in school? Job applicants get it too. Instead of sifting all applicants through one coarse screen, use a succession of fine ones to help you differentiate. Using a variety of methods also helps counter an over reliance on intuition or gut-feel in the hiring process. As Guy Kawasaki, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures and a major contributor to the early success of Apple Computer says, "the problem with intuition is that people only remember when their intuition was right—truth be told, their intuition was probably wrong as often as right."

Consider:

Multiple Interviews. See your applicants more than once, each time with specific objectives in mind for the interview. In the first interview you're likely to encounter a highly prepared or scripted candidate, but by the second or third interview you'll begin see more of the "real" person who will provide more revealing, high-quality information.

Peer Interviews. In firms where teamwork is valued, it's not uncommon for cast members who will be working with whoever is hired to be trained to do short interviews of their own. Their viewpoints are highly functional. When the project has to be finished under the gun, the person you're hiring is someone they'll need to work with and depend on.

Job-Validated Testing. Tests that reflect the true nature of the job and assess the key skills needed to do it proficiently are valid, provided they're administered equally and fairly to everyone under consideration. Use them.

Job Previewing. Let applicants spend some time seeing what they're getting themselves into. If they're serious, they'll find ways to better present their qualifications to you. If the job turns out to be something other than what they were expecting, they'll often save you the cost of a bad hire by deselecting themselves. For example, one previewing technique for call center job candidates is to play excerpts of real calls they're likely to receive from customers. Hearing the nature of these calls might cause a few candidates to "select out" of the job, even if they have the requisite skills or background to qualify.

5. Consider nontraditional sources. The traditional entry-level work force is shrinking. But the proportion of Americans over the age of 50 is mushrooming. Shrewd organizations are taking advantage of this seismic demographic shift by hiring more retired workers for service roles. With their vast institutional knowledge, calm demeanor under fire, and strong work ethic, people of this generation are often a good fit for customer contact jobs. Harley Davidson, for example, hires back its own recently retired employees for part-time roles like calling customers to gauge how well the company has satisfied their needs and to solicit ideas on how to improve service. Because they know the company and its products so well, the retirees are able to "generate deeper customer insights while also reinforcing the Harley brand," according to management.

6. Recruit actively. Good people may not always find you—often you have to find them. Where have your best people been coming from? Are there others back there equally ready and willing to do the job for you? When you encounter service workers who make a strong impression, don't be shy about handing them your business card and suggesting they get in touch the next time they're ready to make a change. Consider rewarding your people—pay 'em a bounty—for bringing in friends, former colleagues, even relatives who are capable of filling roles in your company. It's often a cheaper and more effective way of finding good talent than using Internet job boards, newspaper ads, or other traditional recruiting tools.

7. Hire people like the job, not like you. It's very human to overlay your own personal beliefs, values, likes, and dislikes on the selection process, but it's seldom in the best interest of the customer to do so. Beware of the "cloning" effect, or the tendency to hire people who think, act, look, or share the same background as you. Remember the words of economist Leo Rosten: "First-rate men hire first-rate men. Second-rate men hire third-rate men." (We're sure he'd have said "people" if he said this today.)

8. Review history with your head; review attitude with your heart. Customer service is a performing art. You size people up in a job interview or at a social gathering by what your instinct—your proverbial gut—tells you about that person. If your vibes are sending you "disconnect" signals, don't silence them just because you're impressed with an applicant's resume, references, or silver-tongued responses to your questions. If you are getting an uneasy feeling about a prospect, the customer may just share the same reaction. Ask a colleague with a reputation for being a skilled interviewer, or a peer you respect, to sit in on the applicant's next interview to double-check your hunch, and to ensure you're not simply reacting to a personal bias or prejudice.

Success on the "Customer Service Stage" takes a great cast, a super script, great support, and great direction. Never compromise on casting, and never sacrifice rigor in the selection process to a desire to trim hiring costs or fill open jobs faster. Putting the right people in the right roles is critical to everything else in the production.

You start with good people, you train and motivate them, you give them an opportunity to advance, then the organization succeeds.

—J. W. "Bill" Marriott, Jr. Chairman and CEO, Marriott Corporation

Chapter Two

Paying Attention to Employee Retention

I can think of no company that has found a way to look after external customers while abusing internal customers. The process of meeting customer needs begins internally.

—Tom Peters Management Guru

It used to be so much easier. You needed a body—anybody would do. So you called human resources. Someone ran an ad in the Sunday newspaper or on Monster.com. People sent résumés and filled out application forms. Someone screened the candidates and selected those who seemed most likely to fit into the corporate culture. You interviewed two, maybe three, people—mostly to double-check what was on the applications and make sure none of them had two heads or tended to scratch in embarrassing places. Then you hired one. A week or two later she showed up, signed a batch of forms, picked up her employee manual, and went to sit next to Sally or Juan or Mary to learn the ropes for a couple of days. And that was that. End of story. If she didn't work out, you simply bade her farewell (or transferred her someplace where her influence would be less noxious) and tried again.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service by Chip R. Bell Ron Zemke Copyright © 2007 by Chip R. Bell and Performance Research Associates, Inc.. 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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