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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 Zemke and Chip Bell show managers how to make exemplary service "happen" in their organization--over and over again.

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.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814473689
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 5/15/2007
  • Series: Knock Your Socks Off Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

CHIP R. BELL is the founder of The Chip Bell Group and author of many popular books including Wired and Dangerous. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, USA Today, Fast Company, Business Week and other major media.

RON ZEMKE was founder of Performance Research Associates and considered one of the leaders of the service quality revolution. He was coauthor of the bestselling Knock Your Socks Off Service series.

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Read an Excerpt

1 Recruit Creatively and Hire Carefully

Development can help great people be even better—

but if I had a dollar to spend, I’d spend 70 cents getting

the right person in the door.

—Paul Russell, Director of Leadership and

Development, Google

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” in an organization; they “cast” people

for a “role” in a service performance.

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,

has 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 frontline 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 are 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 an attractive

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. Despite the pressures for output or scarcity of talent, 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 both an applicant’s technical skills as

well as 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 becoming 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 finding 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—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.”3

2. Great service performers must be able to handle

pressure. There are many kinds of pressure—pressure of the

Recruit Creatively and Hire Carefully 5

clock, pressure from customers, pressure from other players in

the service cast, and pressure from the desire to do a good job

for both customer and 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 be 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 enough 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, comfortable enough to be constantly

looking for new ways to enhance their performance,

and 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.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface....................v
Thanks....................viii
Imperative 1: Find and Retain Quality People....................1
1 Recruit Creatively and Hire Carefully....................3
2 Paying Attention to Employee Retention....................12
3 Keeping Your Best and Brightest....................18
Imperative 2: Know Your Customers Intimately....................27
4 "Emotionalizing" the Yardstick: Why Customer Satisfaction Isn't Enough....................29
5 Listening Is a Contact Sport....................36
6 A Complaining Customer Is Your Best Friend....................46
7 The Binding Power of Customer Trust....................53
8 Little Things Mean a Lot....................59
Imperative 3: Build a Service Vision....................67
9 The Power of Purpose....................69
10 Getting Your Vision Down on Paper....................73
11 A Service Vision Statement Sampler....................78
12 Standards and Norms: Delivering on the Service Promise....................83
Imperative 4: Make Your Service Delivery System ETDBW (Easy To Do Business With)....................91
13 Bad Systems Undermine Good People....................93
14 Fix the System, Not the People....................98
15 Measure and Manage from the Customer's Point of View....................107
16 Add Magic: Creating the Unpredictable and Unique....................115
17 Make Recovery a Point of Pride ... and a Focal Part of Your System....................122
18 Reinventing Your Service System....................131
Imperative 5: Train and Coach....................137
19 Start on Day One (When Their Hearts and Minds are Malleable)....................139
20 Training Creates Competence, Confidence, and Commitment to Customers....................146
21 Making Training Stick....................153
22 Thinking and Acting Like a Coach....................159
Imperative 6: Involve and Empower....................169
23 Fostering "Responsible Freedom" on the Front Lines....................171
24 Removing the Barriers to Empowerment....................178
Imperative 7: Recognize, Reward, and Celebrate....................185
25 Recognition and Reward: Fueling the Fires of Service Success....................187
26 Feedback: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner of Champions....................192
27 The Art of Interpersonal Feedback....................198
28 Celebrate Success....................203
Imperative 8: Your Most Important Management Mission: Set the Tone and Lead the Way....................209
29 Manager-Employee Trust: Ground Zero for Service Quality....................211
30 Observation Is More Powerful Than Conversation....................218
31 Great Service Leadership in Action....................221
Index....................227
About the Authors....................232
Read More Show Less

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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    Posted October 19, 2008

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