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Bookshelf: The Customer Rules: The 14 Indispensable, Irrefutable and Indisputable Qualities of the Greatest Service Companies in the World

Nov. 7, 2008
By C. Britt Beemer and Robert L. Shook, McGraw-Hill Companies, 2008, 332 pages, $26.95

It's a simple, logical premise: "Everyone should be constantly thinking about the customer -- the CEO, the people in the accounting department, the people in the warehouse -- everyone," says author C. Britt Beemer. It's a simple premise, but few admit to it, says Beemer and co-author Robert L. Shook. Confirmation comes from a survey involving more than 9,000 interviews conducted by Beemer's America's Research Group. (He's ARG's founder and CEO).

ARG's survey asked: "Have you ever considered the notion that everyone has a job in your company that involves the customer?" Beemer reports that four out of 10 working Americans report that neither they nor their coworkers' jobs have anything to do with customers. Second question: "Does your supervisor talk to you about how your personal efforts affect the customer?" Beemer reports 51.5% of the respondents answered "no."

Motivated by those negative findings, the authors have based their book on providing insights on how 14 companies have committed to solutions. Each company organized programs that successfully focus the entire organization on creating and supporting the customer. Through a description of the 14 companies and their practices, the authors offer advice for companies wanting to strengthen brands and market share.

The best practices range from Johnson & Johnson's carefully crafted credo specifying employee/customer behavior to Harrah's hotel rooms each being equipped with two bathrooms for married couples. ARG notes that 40% of American workers do not have a written job description. That written description would be the perfect place to mention job responsibilities to customers, ARG notes.

The authors include the following recommendations:

  • Instill the importance of customer service in every employee.
  • Use a "small-town" approach to meeting customers' needs no matter how big your company is.
  • Develop a unique identity your customers will seek out.
  • Maintain a focus on the customer before, during and after the sale.

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