Retail Observer

October 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM OCTOBER 2014 40 I n 1991, I wrote a book entitled "Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service". My objective was to prove that "service" is a strategy as powerful as marketing and as potent as a quality product itself in the ongoing effort to realize the full profit potential of a company- -any company. Featured in this book were several companies that were ranked at the top of their game in 1991 and are still there today. I find this amazing that more companies have not followed the leaders by using their strategies to climb to the top. What's their secret weapon??? Shhh... its Customer Service. Here's what they say: • Southwest Airlines: Southwest really believes that its People are its most valuable asset. "Although we fly planes, Southwest Airlines is really a Customer Service Company," Colleen Barrett, president emeritus said, "We are not an airline with great customer service. We are a great customer service organization that just happens to be in the airline business." • Jeff Bezos built an online store (in 1994) that was customer friendly and easy to navigate. His goal was to show that being online did not mean less service – it meant more. He states that, "If you make every customer really happy, they can tell 6,000 people about you. You want every customer to become an evangelist for you." Amazon is the world's largest bookstore and they have built their company around customer service. • Land's End: At Lands' End, even their guarantee screams customer service. They say: The world is full of guarantees, no two alike. As a rule, the more words they contain, the more their protection is limited. The Lands' End guarantee has always been an unconditional one. It reads: "If you are not completely satisfied with any item you buy from us, at any time during your use of it, return it and we will refund your full purchase price." They mean every word of it. Whatever, Whenever, Always. But to make sure this is perfectly clear; they simplify it even further, in two words... GUARANTEED. PERIOD ® . • General Electric: Considered the best run company in the world. Jack Welch former CEO, stated, "Companies can't protect jobs. Only satisfied customers can do that." Developing and motivating people is the most important part of GE's company mission. They invest $1 billion each year in training for employee improvement. One third of management time is spent on people. According to Jeff Immelt, CEO, "We recruit, we train, we develop, we improve, we think about people constantly. The only job security is a satisfied customer." • Stew Leonard: Stew Leonard's grocery store is recognized by millions of people. It is the one with the huge boulder at the entrance with these words painted on it: • Rule No. 1: The customer is always right. • Rule No. 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule number one. Stew Leonard Jr. understands the concept of a service strategy. When you have an organization that promotes the service approach throughout the company, you augment the impact of service on sales. The reason that leading companies emphasize service so strongly is that service strengthens sales. • Northeast Delta Dental: They are committed to providing extraordinary service to all their customers. To emphasize their commitment, they guarantee seven major areas of service and reinforce them with a comprehensive group refund policy. No competitor has copied their service guarantee. Most are looking for ways to work with Northeast Delta Dental. Their customer service strategy has proven to be the only competitive weapon to use with competitors that has dramatically increased market share and has given them a 5- to 10- year lead-time over their competition. • Disney: Has a reputation for exceptional service. Empowerment is a religion there. Employees are thoroughly trained and then told that they have the authority – it has been delegated to them – to do whatever is necessary to deal with problems on the spot in order to make customers happy. Disney realizes great financial benefit for its quality service standards. Best kept secret of top companies Catch the customer service fever. All of these companies did it in the early 90's and they are still thriving in 2014. Their secret? It's as plain as the nose on your face. RO John Tschohl Customer Service John Tschohl—described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a customer service guru and service strategist—presents strategic keynote speeches to companies worldwide. He is the author of "Empowerment, A Way of Life." Contact: or STILL LEADING THE WAY IN 2014

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