Customer Service: Extraordinary Results at Southwest Airlines, Charles Schwab, Lands' End, American Express, Staples, and USAA

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9780887307720: Customer Service: Extraordinary Results at Southwest Airlines, Charles Schwab, Lands' End, American Express, Staples, and USAA
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Imagine a company that receives five times as many letters of praise as complaints. Picture a business for which tens of thousands of customers line up, unsolicited, to open an account. Think of a global corporation that continues to set record earnings year after year, despite increasingly heavy competition. Then envision knowing the keys to these companies' successes--and using them to your company's benefit.

Southwest Airlines, Charles Schwab, Land's End, American Express, Staples, and USAA--at a time when "customer service" might seem to be more about talk than action, the six companies profiled in this book have gone beyond lip service to surpass the competition by putting quality service at the core of their value systems. In Customer Service, the second book in the BusinessMasters series, you'll discover the innovative strategies these six companies have used to triumph through their commitment to excellence in customer service. Edited by noted customer service expert and New York Times--bestselling author Fred Wiersema, this definitive guide offers field-proven philosophies, how-to tools, and invaluable insights gained from years of providing superior service to millions of customers across the country and around the world.

Discover how Southwest Airlines has built a $3.8 billion industry by going beyond the call of duty time and time again. (The airline's agents have been known to drive passengers to their destinations several hours away in rare cases of delays or schedule mix-ups!) Find out how Land's End keeps its promise of reliability no matter what (even during a UPS strike, when the company kept its policy of quick delivery by creating its own mini-post office)--making it the nation's leading apparel catalog. And learn how Charles Schwab has developed a system to turn customer complaints into opportunities that actually strengthen their bond to consumers. The strategies of these companies vary, but their principles remain the same: they anticipate consumer needs and find every way they can to meet them, constantly challenging themselves to improve their service and demonstrate their respect for their customers as individuals.

Through these inspiring profiles you'll also learn:

  • Why meeting customers' needs on an individual level actually outweighs a factor such as cost.

  • How the most successful companies excel by making employee happiness a top priority

  • Why simplifying your message and focusing your service will keep customers coming back

  • How developing ways to measure customer input, disseminate it company-wide, and utilize it to grow with your customers can be the most important thing you can do for your business

With this short, accessible book, entrepreneurs and executives alike will glean the tools and insights needed to create a successful customer-oriented culture that is defined by service excellence.

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Review:

Customer Service: Extraordinary Results at Southwest Airlines, Charles Schwab, Lands' End, American Express, Staples, and USAA begins with the obvious (but nonetheless truthful) observation that businesses today cannot survive without loyal customers, and then shows how these six firms are masterfully going about the process of obtaining and retaining them. Each is the subject of a chapter that opens with a brief profile and concludes with expert analysis by business strategist and lecturer Fred Wiersema. "At a time when it often seems harder than ever to find a company that truly connects with its customers as individuals, these organizations are dramatic exceptions to the rule," he writes of the selections overall. "We chose them for inclusion here because their practices transcend platitudes and lip service. Simply put, service defines their business and sets them apart from competitors." The heart of each chapter, however, is first-person reports from one or more officials in each company--such as David S. Pottruck, president and co-CEO of Schwab; Colleen Barrett, executive vice president of Southwest; and Bill Clooney, president of the United Services Automobile Association's property and casualty insurance group--that detail the specifics of their customer-service philosophies and show them in action. --Howard Rothman

About the Author:

Fred Wiersema is a business strategist and sought-after lecturer, as well as the author of Customer Intimacy and coauthor of The Discipline of Market Leaders. He is the founder of Ibex Partners, a global think tank that focuses on strategies for market leadership. Dr. Wiersema has worked with high-profile companies on issues ranging from business development and market strategy to competitive positioning and management alignment. He and his family live in the Boston area.

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