The Corporate Coach: How to Build a Team of Loyal Customers and Happy Employees

The Corporate Coach: How to Build a Team of Loyal Customers and Happy Employees

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by James B. Miller, Paul B. Brown

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Jim Miller is famous for giving not just good service but legendary service. This is one of the reasons his company's sales have gone from $50,000 to $150,000,000 in twenty-five years. As founder and CEO of Miller Business Systems, he has built a reputation for being willing and able to do anything for his customers. But he is not just customer-oriented: He

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Jim Miller is famous for giving not just good service but legendary service. This is one of the reasons his company's sales have gone from $50,000 to $150,000,000 in twenty-five years. As founder and CEO of Miller Business Systems, he has built a reputation for being willing and able to do anything for his customers. But he is not just customer-oriented: He knows how to motivate his employees, and his upbeat, deeply personal approach to business is detailed in The Corporate Coach. Developed over twenty-five years of experience, Miller likens managing a company to coaching a team by joining customers and employees in a common cause. He believes in empowering people at every level of a company, in giving opportunities to develop, improve, and be creative, rather than languishing on the bench. Filled with anecdotes, specific "do this/don't do that" advice, and, above all, an attitude that is refreshing and inspiring, The Corporate Coach is essential reading for anyone who serves or manages people.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
The founder of Miller Business Systems, an office supply company, presents his principles of customer focus that have enhanced his company's success. Through analogies, Miller relates his leadership concepts to sports teams, which will surely appeal to executives with annual box seats! All the current good ideas on serving customers, such as hiring customer-oriented employees, focusing internal processes on serving customers, constant systems redesign based on customer feedback, and long-term relationships with customers can be found in this program, read by the author. Although Miller's ideas are soundly rooted in the extensive literature in this genre, he offers little new information. Also, with the significant problems inherent in today's professional sports business, his attempt to relate complex team-based organizational success to successful athletic teams is outdated. Invest instead in the more substantial work from Ron Zemke (Working with Jerks, S. & S. Audio, 1989).-Dale Farris, Groves, Tex.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st HarperBusiness ed
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.57(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Whose Rules Do You Play By?

The road to success is always under construction.

Some Companies set the rules; they tell customers how to play the game. Other companies ask customers what they'd like the rules to be; then they do everything possible to play by those rules. The difference in those two attitudes separates the excellent service companies from the average and poor ones.

If you want to succeed today, you have to play by the customers' rules.

Many companies don't do that. In fact, not only do they expect you to always play by their rules, they're rude in explaining what those rules are. Here's what I mean.

A manager we hired, who had just moved to the area, took an armful of suits into one of the local dry cleaners, explaining that he needed to have them back the next morning.

"They won't be ready until after six p.m.," the woman behind the counter snapped.

"That'll be too late, because I'm leaving town at five o'clock," the manager said. "Couldn't I get them earlier?"

The woman shook her head. "That's it," she said, in a voice that made it clear that the customer was being a pest. "They'll be ready after six."

The manager lifted his suits off the counter, and put them back under his arm. As he walked out the door, he heard the woman say with a sarcastic tone, "I hope you'll be happy somewhere else."

He was. He found a dry cleaner a few blocks away who was more than willing to make the extra effort to get his suits back when heneeded them. He has been going to that dry cleaner ever since.

Didn't the woman at the first store understand that the new customer probably represented twelve hundred dollars a year in business? That's exactly how you have to look at every potential customer. What's important is not how much business the person is going to do with you today. After all, whether or not the store cleaned that manager's suits wouldn't make a lot of difference to the cleaner's earnings this year. The real value of a customer is how much he might spend with you over the course of a lifetime.

The customer that the woman alienated represented twelve hundred dollars in business the first year, and the next, and the year after that. She wasn't turning down a chance to make twenty dollars from cleaning a couple of suits. She was turning down twelve thousand dollars over the next ten years.

But she didn't look at the potential customer that way. Many businesses don't — and it costs them.

Here's another example. The CEO of a large Dallas company took a customer to dinner at a local restaurant. He repeatedly tried to catch the waiter's eye so they could have their iced tea glasses refilled, but the waiter never looked their way. Frustrated, the executive marched into the kitchen, got the iced tea pitcher, and filled the glasses himself.

The next day, he contacted the manager of the restaurant to complain. But the manager, just like the waiter, didn't seem to care if the customer was happy.

The executive cared, though. He cared a lot. Right then he told the manager that he was canceling a dinner for 275 that his company had scheduled at that restaurant and was going someplace else.

One last example. One of our sales managers had been traveling for a while, and hadn't had time to buy a present to take to an upcoming wedding. On his way to the reception, he stopped at a department store, picked out a gift, took it to the cashier, and asked to have it wrapped.

"I'm sorry," said the woman behind the counter. "You'll have to take it to the gift-wrapping department, and they are all backed up now. It will take them about an hour to get to it."

"I'm running a little late," the manager said. "How about selling me the paper, and I'll wrap it myself?"

"That's against our policy. You'll just have to wait."

The sales manager put his gift back on the shelf, left the store, and went to another department store down the street. They gladly wrapped the gift he purchased from them while he waited, and he was on his way to the wedding.

You can imagine where he will do his shopping in the future.

THe Guy Who Brought The Bat And BallMakes The Rules

Listen, be flexible, and respond.

Do you remember when you used to play sand-lot ball games? The guy who brought the bat and ball set the rules. He decided what to use for boundaries, who chose sides, and which team would bat first.

Our companies believe the customer owns the bat and balls.

We have something like 9,216 service options. We'll literally do whatever the customer wants, to the best of our ability. Consider:

  • If customers need furniture installed during nonbusiness hours, we'll work at night, early in the morning, or on weekends.

  • If customers want monthly usage reports in a format different from the one we usually use, we'll send someone over to sit down with them to see what information is needed, and how they'd like it formatted. From then on, that's exactly how they'll get their reports.

  • How can customers order? They can use our forms. They can use their forms. They can call us, fax us, or order computer-to-computer. They can use our stock number or theirs. If they can't place their order during our normal business hours, our rep will phone them at 2:00 A.M. (and we have some customers who keep that kind of schedule!) to discuss their needs.

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Meet the Author

James B. Miller has been honored as Executive of the Year by the office products industry. His company was featured in Ron Zemke's bestseller The Service Edge, which profiled America's top 101 service corporations.

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The Corporate Coach 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read this book several years ago and still reach for it to refresh my memory. His suggestions are practical and easy to implement. His story is an excellent example of how common sense, perception and true leadership will generate amazing results.