Who's Your Gladys?: How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer Into Your Biggest Fan

Overview

Every customer oriented business has its own Gladys; someone who demands more than most companies are able or willing to give, one who pushes front line service representatives' buttons, one who requires a higher degree of skill to manage. One who let's just say it can be difficult. Yet how is it that some businesses prove able not only to satisfy their 'Gladys', but turn her into one of their most loyal, utterly pleased customers? Filled with inspiring real-life case studies, "Who's Your Gladys?" reveals how ...
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Overview

Every customer oriented business has its own Gladys; someone who demands more than most companies are able or willing to give, one who pushes front line service representatives' buttons, one who requires a higher degree of skill to manage. One who let's just say it can be difficult. Yet how is it that some businesses prove able not only to satisfy their 'Gladys', but turn her into one of their most loyal, utterly pleased customers? Filled with inspiring real-life case studies, "Who's Your Gladys?" reveals how large and small companies from a variety of industries avoid creating difficult customers in the first place.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS:

From Publishers Weekly:
"When times are tough, argue entrepreneur Suttle and manager Vest, it's the companies with exceptional customer service that survive. The eponymous Gladys represents the company's hypothetical most challenging client-the one who requires a high level of skill to manage. Using the stories of 10 diverse companies-the Canfield Training Group (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame), Singapore Airlines, a polyethylene piping product supplier, a spa, an eyeglass distributor and a medical center among them-the authors show companies how to win over Gladys, develop strong client relationships and deliver the superior service that will help them through an economic crisis. It's the substantive, down-to-earth advice that sets this book apart from its competitors, as well as the helpful chapter-end sections, which contain practical points and thought-provoking questions and answers. The whole is an extremely well-organized and easy to use guide illuminated by the authors' obvious passion for customer service.

"It's the substantive, down-to-earth advice that sets this book apart from its competitors, as well as the helpful chapter-end sections, which contain practical points and thought-provoking questions and answers. The whole is an extremely well-organized and easy to use guide illuminated by the authors' obvious passion for customer service." --Publishers Weekly

From Corp! Magazine, Detroit, MI:
"This is a fast-paced and readable book on customer relationship building. The authors are effective communicators on the subject, and the real-life stories make for a solid book on the topic." --Corp! Magazine

From Accounting Today:
"[Who's Your Gladys?] offers plenty of useful advice on turning the people who pay your bills into your biggest fans." --Accounting Today

Selected by Customer Service Newsletter as one of the best customer service books of 2009: "Who's Your Gladys? offers not only a detailed look at how customer service works at several successful companies, it provides a convenient blueprint for how to examine and benchmark your own customer service operations."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When times are tough, argue entrepreneur Suttle and manager Vest, it's the companies with exceptional customer service that survive. The eponymous “Gladys” represents the company's hypothetical most challenging client—the one who requires a high level of skill to manage. Using the stories of 10 diverse companies—the Canfield Training Group (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame), Singapore Airlines, a polyethylene piping product supplier, a spa, an eyeglass distributor and a medical center among them—the authors show companies how to win over “Gladys,” develop strong client relationships and deliver the superior service that will help them through an economic crisis. It's the substantive, down-to-earth advice that sets this book apart from its competitors, as well as the helpful chapter-end sections, which contain practical points and thought-provoking questions and answers. The whole is an extremely well-organized and easy to use guide illuminated by the authors' obvious passion for customer service. (Sept.)
Library Journal
These titles both focus on getting and keeping customers. Women Want More makes the case that women will control ever greater amounts of consumer spending, and should be wooed accordingly with services that both save their time and meet their unique needs. The book is based on a study of 12,000 women conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (for which the authors work), and the most helpful findings reveal how many women are currently dissatisfied with the financial, health care, banking, and technological services that they receive. Suttle and Vest's narrative is much more a business how-to on keeping all clients happy by keeping your business's promises, exceeding expectations, and personalizing services. Neither book is groundbreaking, although the former offers a few unique insights, but both are serviceably written and should be considered for those seeking to freshen up their customer service collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781484009413
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 4/13/2013
  • Pages: 242
  • Sales rank: 532,395
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

"It was a rewarding experience to spend a year interviewing high level CEO's, managers, and empowered front-line staff in preparation for the writing of 'Who's Your Gladys?'," say authors Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest.

Suttle and Vest take a down-to-earth, works-in-real-life approach to unlocking the mystery behind customer attraction and retention.

MARILYN SUTTLE:
Marilyn Suttle is the President of a personal and professional growth training firm,(Suttle Enterprises LLC)through which she has presented training workshops and keynotes to thousands. From customer service to work/life balance, her relationship expertise helps people learn how to talk in ways that gain cooperation, inspire personal excellence, and create connected relationships both at work and at home.

Her client list includes Fortune 500 companies, associations, universities, and small to mid-sized companies in advertising, financial and health care industries. Suttle is a Past President of the National Speakers Association, Michigan chapter. She has been mentored by Jack Canfield, and has participated in his Breakthrough to Success training programs since 2004.

Marilyn's work/life success coaching helps free leaders from habits that no longer line up with their passions, strengths and desires.

Marilyn is an inspirational thought leader who believes that cultivating a successful mindset is critical to success. She places equal emphasis on the continuous learning of communication skills for a happier, more productive life at work, and at home."

LORI JO VEST:
Since most of her 20-year career has been spent in business-to-business sales positions involving high levels of day-to-day customer contact, Lori has developed extensive expertise in customer service and business development. She currently consults with businesses on methods to enhance their sales and customer service efforts. Her approach to both positions is one of personal connection and long term relationship building.

Besides her sales and customer service work, Vest serves as a social media community manager for two national brands, engaging consumers on social channels like Facebook and Twitter to build relationships and loyalty.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

When times are tough and customer dollars are scarce, it’s the companies

with exceptional customer service that weather the storm. If you want to

keep customers coming back and happily recommending you to others,

now is the time to ramp up your customer service to the highest possible

level. Even when the economy gets back on track, those with extraordinary

customer care enjoy the most profits.

Writing this book has been an adventure. We were a year into a recession,

and the financial markets were melting down. Our hometown of Detroit

saw two of its ‘‘Big Three’’ American automotive manufacturers ask

the U.S. government for a bridge loan for billions of dollars. Companies all

over the country were struggling to stay afloat. The timing for a book designed

to help businesses retain their customers couldn’t have been better.

We wrote Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even Your Most Difficult

Customer Into Your Biggest Fan to uncover the vital secrets that thriving

companies—small and large—know about customer service. Gladys is an

actual customer (we’ve changed her name, of course) who appears in

the first chapter of this book. As we heard more about her during our

conversations with the managers of Professional Movers, one of the first

companies that we interviewed, she became our poster child. Gladys represents

that challenging client that all of us have encountered. Everyone

in business has a Gladys or two—a customer or perhaps a coworker who

requires a high level of skill to manage. Your Gladys may be a man,

woman, or child. Your Gladys may be young or old. As you read our first

chapter, we’d like to invite you to think of your Gladys as someone who

can help you grow your business and your customer retention rate.

There’s enough academic theory and ‘‘be nice’’ fluff out there; we

wanted to give you substance—proven ways to keep your customers happy

(so that they don’t become Gladys) and turn even a hard-core Gladys

into your biggest fan. We feature 10 companies, large and small, in a

variety of industries. Every one of them has either experienced significant

sales increases as a result of its customer care, won industry accolades for

superior customer service, undergone a radical transformation that took

its customer service to new levels, or taken an innovative approach that

creates a bond of loyalty with its clients.

Here you’ll find the stories of those companies, told to us by the

fabulous, compassionate people who run them and by some of their empowered

front-line employees.We gleaned a significant amount of immediately

actionable information from these exceptional executives. They

openly shared the inner workings of their organizations. They answered

every question we asked. They told us about challenging situations, their

unique customer service methods, and what they’ve learned from the

mistakes they’ve made. We were amazed at their commitment to helping

others by sharing their thoughts and recommendations so intimately.

While the companies that participated in this project come from

different industries and have widely disparate methods, they have several

core elements in common. Each of these organizations has an overall

commitment to honoring its customers, its employees, and its vendors.

All of them humanize the workplace and value customer relationships,

focusing on providing a positive emotional experience. They value caring

and kindness, rather than just getting the next dollar. (An abundance of

wealth, higher rankings in your industry, and greater retention of highquality

staff are happy side effects of focusing on what really matters.)

These companies are dedicated to providing the best possible service

to their customers, and they are steadfast in their efforts at continuous

improvement. They do business with passion, with integrity, and in a way

that generates goodwill. Their methods can be applied in any business,

including yours. The best part? This book gives you concrete steps that

you can take now to bring exceptional customer service to your company.

To help you benefit from what these extraordinary companies have told

us, we’ve designed the chapters to tell their stories, pulling out crucial lessons

and offering tools that you can use right now to transform both your

personal approach and your company’s customer satisfaction levels.

Every chapter gives you ways to make exceptional customer service a

part of your company’s unique personality. You’ll find specific details that

allow you to translate the information into immediate actions easily. For

example, the Canfield Training Group shared how it manages workshops

with hundreds of participants, some of whom make outrageous demands.

It demonstrates how compassion solidifies client relationships, shows how

tough love can be used to guide customer behavior, and offers an inspiring

role model for emotion management skills in its director of training, Jesse

Ianniello.

Another chapter focuses on Singapore Airlines, a global airline carrier

that places a strong emphasis on delighting its customers by continually

exceeding their expectations. Its employees are well trained and well

managed. They love caring for their travelers in a way that makes even

the longest transoceanic flight feel refreshing and worth an increased

ticket price.

Whether you’re starting at zero, halfway to fabulous, or going strong,

you’ll find practices that you can put into place immediately to take your

customer service to the heights of exceptional. Continuous improvement

is a hallmark of all exceptional companies. By applying the lessons you’ll

learn in this book, you’ll join the ranks of those who are committed to

growth and to higher levels of awareness and success.

And while you will learn many tactics for improving aspects of your

business, there is also a vital personal growth aspect of customer service.

Your efforts toward advancing your mood management and relationship

skills will have a direct and significant impact on your professional

growth. Throughout the book, you will find ways to grow your emotional

competencies, gain new perspectives on the value of happiness, achieve

life balance, and remain calm and compassionate during customers’ tantrums

and tirades. You’ll see how you can translate mistakes into accelerated

learning opportunities so that you actually improve the customer

relationship as a result. What you don’t know about emotion management

and relationships, you can easily learn. (We’ve even put some personal

growth resources at the end of the book so that you can keep

learning after you’ve finished reading it.)

You’ll be able to change both your mindset and your procedures by the

time you’ve finished this book. And your Gladys will thank you for it.

Why Marilyn and Lori? Marilyn is the founder of Suttle Enterprises

LLC and has taught thousands of people across the country how to have

happier, more productive relationships with their customers, their colleagues,

and even their children. Marilyn’s parents were small business

owners, as is her older brother. As a result, her appreciation for the customer

connection was ingrained in her psyche at an early age. Her training

business and speaking engagements allow her to live her dream of

helping people to become more aware of their feelings so that they can

generate life-balancing, success-inducing connections. She’s created the

‘‘Suttle Method’’ of communicating with compassion, teaching people

how to use emotion management skills and inspiring audiences to savor

their successes and connect in genuine, heartfelt ways.

Lori’s background in sales and customer service management inspired

her to teach others how to deliver compassionate service. As the manager

of a successful teleproduction studio in metropolitan Detroit, her involvement

in the day-to-day activities of a small business have allowed her to

test the processes and recommendations you’ll find in Who’s Your Gladys?

How to Turn Even Your Most Difficult Customer Into Your Biggest Fan. From

the daily staff ‘‘morning huddle’’ meeting to the use of customer surveys

and creative problem solving, she’s using this information right now,

growing the facility’s revenue by 20 percent in 2008.

This book was born out of a desire to make a difference. Each of us had

an interest in customer service, particularly the aspects of mood management

and human compassion as well as the benefits of creating a personal

connection with customers. More times than we could count, we would

hear each other say, ‘‘I’d love to write a book to teach people the lessons

I’ve learned.’’ Then one day we looked at each other and said, ‘‘Let’s do

it!’’ We began meeting weekly, and the project took on a life of its own.

The people whose stories appear on these pages divinely showed up

once we started looking for them. Some of the companies were on our

radar from our day-to-day lives. After all, people talk about their horrible

customer service experiences all the time. Wouldn’t it be fun to tell the

stories of fantastic experiences? We’re both realistic optimists, so spreading

great stories is one of our favorite pastimes. And if it can help someone

else? That’s even better!

Everyone that we approached to include in the book said yes to

involvement in the project. They all gave us easy and quick access to

their high-level executives and some of their front-line staff, who answered

every question with a generous spirit and helpful information.

While we had personally experienced how exceptional customer service

requires compassion, a human connection, and strong relationships, it

was inspiring to have that knowledge affirmed.

Researching and writing this book has been such a pleasure. As you

read the pages ahead, please know how much we value you, our readers.

We appreciate you for taking the time to meet Gladys and to explore our

stories and lessons. We commend you for your desire to deliver exceptional

customer service and grow your abilities.We wish you happy learning,

stellar growth, and deep appreciation for your own customers.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Professional Movers: Who’s Your Gladys? 5

Honoring Your Customers’ Preferences Pays Off 7

Paying Close Attention to Customers’ Needs Makes a Difference 8

Chapter 2 The Canfield Companies: Where’s My Refrigerator? 17

Customers Respond to Compassion and Calm 19

Empathy Calms a Concerned Customer 21

A Spoonful of Kindness Helps When Giving Tough Love 23

Chapter 3 Paul Reed Smith Guitars: Starting from Scratch 33

Customers Aren’t Problems, They’re People 34

Partner with the Customer to Find the Best Solution 36

Passion Fuels Enthusiasm with Employees and Customers 37

Passion Creates Product Quality 39

Everything You Do Affects Your Company’s Brand 41

Fearless Problem Solving Fuels Customer Passion 41

Think of Yourself as a Customer Service Champion 42

Chapter 4 Singapore Airlines: The Tea Service Tells the Story 51

Anticipate the Customers’ Preferences 53

Cater to the Customer’s Need for Control 54

The Customers’ Emotional Response Reveals Their Deepest Desires 55

Innovation Raises the Bar for a High-Quality Customer Experience 56

Understanding Customer Lifestyles Makes It Easier to Serve Them 58

Strive to Exceed Expectations 59

Quality Service Requires Credibility 60

Recovering from Crisis Calls for Personal Commitment 61

Chapter 5 ISCO Industries: A Good Manhole Is Hard to Find 71

Personal Dedication Leads to Creative Problem Solving 73

When Is Customer Service Not Personal? 75

Attention to Detail Pays Off 77

Win-Win Relationships Build Lasting Business 78

Gain Trust with Personal Commitment 80

Every Employee Is an Entrepreneur 81

Guarding the Corporate Culture Is Essential 82

Creative Solutions Make Customers Feel Secure 86

Chapter 6 The Green Company: Who’s Going Up the Ladder? 97

Focus on the Benefits of What You Have to Offer 98

Managing Expectations Keeps Customers Calm 99

Customer Perceptions Matter More than the Truth 100

Team Meetings Keep Everyone Focused 101

Find Ways to Serve After the Purchase 102

Do the Right Thing for Difficult Customers and Difficult Situations 103

Chapter 7 Preston Wynne Spa: Massaging Egos 111

Hire the Right People to Create the Best Customer Experience 112

Employees Excel When They Know What’s Important 115

Continuous Learning Grows Customer Satisfaction 117

Giving a Consistent High-Quality Performance Takes Practice 118

Strong and Ongoing Internal Communication Creates Great Service 119

Evaluate Service from the Customer’s Point of View 121

Make Sure Customers Leave Happy 122

Chapter 8 ClearVision Optical: SurveyMonkey Around 131

Surveying Customers Yields Valuable Information for Action 132

Use Customer Opinions to Your Best Advantage 133

Personal Contact Raises Customer Service Effectiveness 134

Show Customers That Their Feedback Matters 135

Take Action on the Input and Ideas of Front-Line Employees 135

Employees Respond to Ongoing Communication and Training 136

Two-Way Communication Facilitates Positive Change 138

TLC for Employees Delivers Loyalty 139

Chapter 9 Sky Lakes Medical Center: Take, Don’t Tell 147

Evolve to Meet the Changing Needs of Your Customers 148

Create a Detailed Plan and Get Everyone on Board 149

Continuous Improvement Is Part of Everyone’s Job Description 151

Peer-to-Peer Training Has a Huge Effect on Customer Service 152

Elevate Your High-Performing Front-Line Staff 153

Every Employee Contributes to the Customer Experience 156

Make It the Status Quo to Reinforce What’s Right 157

Have Service Recovery Tools and Know How to Use Them 158

Scripts Are a Starting Point for Improving the Customer’s Experience 160

Acknowledging Excellence Brings More Excellence 161

‘‘Be Nice’’ Is a Critical Mandate 162

Chapter 10 Communicore Visual Communications: The Happy Challenge 171

Act as the Steward of the Client Relationship 172

Handle Mistakes with Care and Follow Through 173

Draw Out Better Solutions with a Creative Approach 175

Control the Quality of Service by Putting Systems Into Place 176

Take On the Challenge of Warming Up Customer Relationships 178

Know When to Say Good-Bye 179

Know When a Customer Is Not a Fit and Attract Those That Are 181

Chapter 11 A Final Review 191

Gladys Responds When You Pay Attention to Details 191

Gladys Responds to Compassion 193

Gladys Responds to Passion 194

Gladys Responds When You Go the Extra Mile 196

Gladys Responds When You Don’t Take Conflict Personally 197

Gladys Responds to a Long-Term Relationship 198

Gladys Responds to a Well-Trained Staff 199

Gladys Responds to Two-Way Communication 201

Gladys Responds to Continuous Improvement 202

Gladys Responds to Creative Problem Solving 204

The Practical Points 207

Recommended ‘‘Who’s Your Gladys?’’ Resources 211

Programs to Help You Put the 10 Principles of This Book to Immediate

Use 211

Personal and Professional Growth Tools and Techniques 212

Business Training 214

Customer Communication Tools 215

Professional and Personal Development Books 216

Index 219

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