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

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


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814415382
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 04/07/2010
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 403,953
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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 (Seattle, WA) has been named by the Financial Post as "a new guru of customer service excellence." He is a top keynote speaker and consultant on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture. A successful entrepreneur, he coauthored the bestselling Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit. His expertise has been featured in FastCompany, Inc. Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes.com, NBC and ABC television programming, and elsewhere.

Read an Excerpt


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 a 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 a 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 a 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.

Table of Contents


Special Features xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Foreword by Horst Schulze xv


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

What People are Saying About This

Seth Godin

Filled with treasure and big ideas, this book will help you become exceptional.

Customer Reviews

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Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
HyperionDn More than 1 year ago
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.
Liam_Morrison More than 1 year ago
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.
Mary_Nashir More than 1 year ago
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.
CompleteService More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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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RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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