Customer Focus
What would you do?你会怎么做?
Carol insisted that bringing the new client on board was going to be great for business. Rosa disagreed. The client was notorious for getting bargain rates from one supplier and then jumping ship when the next big deal came along. Rosa was convinced the new client wouldn't stick around long enough to become profitable. To make matters worse, Rosa knew that Carol's strategy for wooing this client involved moving resources from the older, more profitable accounts to this new one. How could she prove to Carol that, at the very least, they should do everything possible to keep their loyal, profitable customers happy?
Rosa needs to show Carol that, while making individual sales is important, real profit comes from nourishing a relationship with a customer and watching it grow. She might sit down with Carol and explain the concept of the "lifetime value" of a customer and actually calculate the lifetime value of one of their clients. She could demonstrate how cultivating an ongoing relationship with a customer creates a steady revenue stream that requires less marketing. Loyal customers tend to buy related products, as well as generate additional revenue through positive referrals. Rosa might then help Carol calculate the potential
revenue streams from an existing loyal client and from the new one.
In this topic, you will learn about the lifetime value of a customer, and why it makes sense to build loyalty among your target customers. Closing individual sales, in most businesses, is not enough for success. Success depends on
developing profitable lifetime relationships with customers. But gaining customer loyalty requires hard work, care, and attentiveness.
Topic Objectives主题目标
This topic contains information about how to:
• Understand the service-profit chain—and in particular the interrelationships among customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, employee capability, and company profitability 
• Build and refine a process for delivering extraordinary value to these key customers

Key Idea: The three Rs关键理念:三个R
Key Idea
Studies show that the longer customers are loyal, the more profitable they become. Why? The answer has to do with what are known as the three Rs of customer loyalty. The first R of customer loyalty is retention保留. An ongoing relationship with a customer creates a steady stream of revenue over time as the customer continues to buy products.
The costs associated with marketing decline, and, in many cases, so do the costs of actually serving the customer who becomes familiar with the company, its product lines, and its procedures. Loyal customers also generate related sales, the second R. The profit generated by selling new products and services to existing customers is greater than it is for selling to new customers. The forward-thinking company develops new products by listening to its loyal
customers. Loyal customers are therefore more likely to buy because the new product has been designed to meet their needs, and because they have a degree of faith in the company already.
In fact, the original product may generate a minor profit compared to related sales over time. New sales to existing customers are less costly, because they require less marketing, no new credit checks, less paperwork, and less time. Furthermore, loyal customers are often less sensitive to price than new customers.
Positive referrals引荐, the third R, are the best kind of marketing—and they're free! Positive customer referrals are vital to profit and growth. Research suggests that satisfied customers are likely to tell five other people about a good experience, while dissatisfied customers are likely to tell eleven other people about a bad one. From your own experience, you know that personal referrals carry much more weight than traditional marketing.
Customer loyalty creates profit in three ways. Each of these ways requires little investment of sales and marketing dollars from your company.
Internal customers内部客户
The three Rs also come into play when your job involves serving internal customers—other individuals, groups, or teams within the organization. The longer a positive relationship lasts with an internal customer, the more you both accomplish together. As a long-term relationship with internal customers grows, the relationship becomes more and more effective, which in turn affects
the company's profitability. In a truly effective internal relationship, a synergy forms. Two groups within an organization can work together to develop new products or serve a customer in increasingly innovative and creative ways. What's more, you don't have to work exclusively with external customers to know that favorable reports about your group create goodwill and positive
expectations. A bad reputation creates negative expectations, decreased credibility, and ongoing friction with other groups. Free marketing or bad press? The choice you make is the key to your reputation and your bottom line.
Misguided marketing误导性营销
Various estimates place the cost to attract new customers at five or more times
the cost of retaining existing ones.
–James L. Heskett
The illustration below represents a typical marketing budget. As you can see, only a small fraction of the entire budget is devoted to maintaining loyal customers.
Most companies today don't work very hard at developing a relationship with a long-term customer. They focus nearly all their energy and money on getting new customers. They promise low, introductory rates and sign-up incentives, and, of course, they spend millions on marketing and advertising and lose money on bad debts.
The reward structure within the company is geared almost exclusively to luring new customers. The biggest incentives often go to employees who bring in new customers, not to those employees who work hard at keeping loyal internal and external customers satisfied.
Marketing budgets like these are driven by the misconception that if you want to make a profit, you must increase market share. This traditional marketing approach focuses on the four Ps—product, price, promotional activity, and "place" (distribution channels)—and leads to the misguided concept that any customer is a good customer.
Seek the highest value追求最高价值
Not all customers are good customers—in fact, some customers are completely wrong for your company. Successful companies know exactly who their ideal customers are, and they focus their energy on creating products to please them, and only them.
Many customers are what you might call mercenaries—they're the kinds who, for example, change telephone services several times a year, lured by the cheapest rates and the biggest incentives. When the introductory offer runs out, so do they, long before they can ever be profitable.
A successful organization must concentrate on satisfying a targeted group of customers who place the highest value on the goods or services it offers. The company that does not make additional efforts to please these customers can stumble badly. Busy chasing the wrong customers, the company strays from what it does best, is more likely to encounter failure, and, in the process, alienates its most profitable customers.
Find the right customers找到合适的客户
Only focused efforts at product and service development will pay off in the long run. Successful organizations determine who their target customers are, and then do everything in their power to please and retain them. A well-defined target customer is a beacon for an organization to follow.
(Sometimes, an organization can determine its target customers by looking at the other side of the coin—in other words, by asking who it should not try to please. After all, no company can please everybody, and some customers are simply not worth having.) Simply stated, targeted customers should be those who will be loyal over time.
One of the nation's most successful insurance companies was formed over 70 years ago to serve a very specific target market: better-than-average drivers. Working in farm states, agents were members of the community, constantly in touch with their customers, learning about what they needed and wanted. Marketing efforts were designed to attract members of the target market and to keep loyal target customers happy. For example, to reward customers' good driving practices, discounts were given at the end of three accident-free years.
Leadership Insight: Change the product not the customer
There is an interesting, historical note about Kikkoman Soy Sauce. As you probably know, Kikkoman is the world's largest seller of soy sauce — the biggest marketer, the most successful marketer of soy sauce. It's a large company that comes from Japan.
They were hoping to be very successful in a very large food and beverage market — the United States. They entered the U.S. in the 1950s. They entered, as most Japanese firms do, from the West Coast in California. And they were selling soy sauce mostly to Asian grocery stores along the West Coast.
They sold very little volume, because, in the 1950s, Americans were not used to consuming soy sauce. It was a foreign product. It was an exotic product. You usually encountered it in a Chinese restaurant when you went to eat out. You used very little soy sauce in your food.
And they couldn't figure out how to make it more successful in America and how to sell more soy sauce. And then, the chairman of the company, visiting the U.S., studied the way that American consumers consumed food. And he said, "I learned something about the differences between the way that Americans eat food and Japanese eat food."
"Two main differences: One is that Americans don't eat a lot of sushi. In Japan, we eat a lot of sushi. And when we eat sushi, we dip a little piece of sushi in a little bit of soy sauce and we eat the sushi. The second major difference is, Americans eat a lot more meat, especially beef, than we do in Japan. Beef is much more expensive in Japan than it is in America."
So we sat down and we said, "You know, rather than trying to get American consumers to behave like Japanese consumers, why don't we change the way that we sell our products and make those products acceptable to American consumers?"
So we manufactured a barbecue marinade called "teriyaki" that was made for American consumers to dip their large pieces or to soak their large pieces of barbecue meat in and then they'd throw this marinade out. Our volume of soy sauce went through the roof.
So, you can just imagine, now — huge lesson here — rather than trying to get a consumer to change to your way of doing things, change your product to suit what the consumer wants to do, how they live their lives.
An easy way of thinking about this is, when you're thinking about marketing your product; think from the outside in, not from the inside out. Think from the customer in to your firm, rather than from your firm out to the customer.
How soy sauce captured the American market.
Match expectations符合预期
It takes months, even years to find a
customer ... and only seconds to lose one.
–Customer 101
Great companies remember that even target customers are moving targets—their expectations shift and evolve over time. Thus, service quality is not absolute, because it is determined by the customer, not by the service provider. And it varies from customer to customer. Consequently, excellent service quality firms are those that can adapt their products and services to meet and
exceed changing customer expectations.
For example, an automobile manufacturer with an extremely high loyalty rate noticed that it was losing customers. They went to their defecting customers and asked why. The customers were happy with the quality of the cars, but they were beginning to have families and wanted bigger cars. Their expectations had changed. When the manufacturer responded by designing bigger cars, its efforts were rewarded by increased loyalty and sales.
Key Idea: Lifetime value核心理念:终身价值
Once an organization targets its customers and begins to meet and exceed their expectations, customer satisfaction rises. Loyalty follows, bringing with it a significant and measurable impact on the bottom line.
In a recent study conducted across a wide range of service industries, experts found that relationships with typical customers grew increasingly more profitable over time in all cases—regardless of industry.
1. In year 0, customers are acquired. These acquisition costs must be recouped over the course of the relationship.
2. Early on in the relationship, purchase and profit levels tend to be low. But they createa foundation on which a longer-term customer relationship can be based.
3. Once he or she is familiar with a product or service, the customer is more likely to buy new products or services. The customer becomes less price-sensitive in making these purchases than with base product or service purchases. The profit level increases.
4. Having become knowledgeable about the company and its policies, the customer is less expensive to serve; therefore, costs are reduced. Further, the truly loyal customer becomes an "apostle," someone who eagerly recommends the company to others, generating new business and greatly increasing profitability.
5. The longer the customer relationship lasts, the more profitable it tends to become. In one study of service firms, extending the customer relationship from five years to six years resulted in a 25% to 85% increase in profitability.
Every customer has a potential lifetime value for your company. Smart managers consider how many sales they can make to a particular customer over the long term and how many referrals the customer might provide.
Calculating customer lifetime value计算客户终身价值
Why don't companies pay more attention to their loyal customers? Because they don't appreciate how valuable they are. Calculating the lifetime value of your customers can be an eye-opening experience. It can also help you build top management's support for customer retention initiatives.
Lifetime value can be calculated for any customer in any industry. Let's assume a business-tobusiness example: a small graphic design studio that buys software from a vendor.
In year 1, the owner of the design studio sees a television ad for new desktop layout software and makes a purchase. In this first year, the vendor doesn't make any money on this customer because the costs of acquiring and serving the customer are greater than the purchase price of the software program.
In year 2, the customer, happy with the layout software, buys the upgrade (which has a higher profit margin) as well as a software program for drawing and illustrating. In addition, the studio owner refers the layout software to several independent graphic designers, one of whom buys the layout software.
In year 3, the design studio buys a program for manipulating images and a clip art library from the vendor. The first referral buys the drawing software and the layout software upgrade. Another referral purchases the layout software.
In year 4, the design studio purchases a new upgrade to the layout software and an upgrade to the drawing software. The first referral purchases image manipulation software and a clip art library. The second referral purchases the drawing software and the layout software upgrade. In addition, two new referrals purchase the basic layout software.
In year 5, the design studio buys new all-in-one software combining layout, illustration, and image manipulation capabilities and also a different clip art library. The first referral buys another upgrade to the layout software and an upgrade to the drawing software. The second referral buys image manipulation software and a clip art library. The two referrals from the past year each purchase the drawing software and the upgrade to the layout software.
The purchases made in years 1 through 5 by the design studio and its referrals are tabulated below. As you can see, the initial $800 purchase in year 1 leads to an additional $12,850 of business from all sources in years 2 through 5.
The service-profit chain服务利润链
Research across a wide variety of industries confirms that profitability and growth are strongly related to variables such as:
• Employee capability
• Employee satisfaction
• Employee productivity
• Employees' ability to deliver good value to customers
• Customer satisfaction
• Customer loyalty
For example: Employee capability—built by hiring the right people, giving them training, support, latitude, and rewards—promotes employee job satisfaction. When employees enjoy their work and believe they are making a difference, they tend to stay longer and become more productive and knowledgeable. Such employee loyalty, in turn, creates greater customer satisfaction. After all, customers are more likely to be happy when they are being served by motivated employees who take the time to get to know their specific needs and circumstances. Not surprisingly, happy customers tend to buy more from the
company and also to refer other customers to the company more frequently. 
Thus, customer satisfaction breeds customer loyalty. And there is a dramatic cause-and-effect relationship between customer loyalty and profitability: in some industries, a small percentage of a company's most valuable and loyal customers can account for more than half of total profitability.
Go beyond frontline service超越一线服务
Many organizations understand the need for training frontline workers to be polite, empathetic, and knowledgeable. But great frontline service is simply not enough. Everyone in the company is responsible for delivering the results the customer wants.
For example, a major airline subcontracted a shuttle service to fly passengers from a hub to the smaller airports in the region. Frontline workers were polite, industrious, and efficient. Unfortunately, the planes were never on time, when they took off at all. Flights were canceled almost continuously. Passengers constantly arrived hours or even a day late, frequently missing important events and meetings. Eventually, the poorly run shuttle service lost its contract and went out of business.
Obviously, great frontline service is critical for success in any organization. But, as this story shows, capability cannot stop at the front line if the company is to be profitable. When capability is lacking anywhere, it compromises the company's ability to deliver what the customers want. In the case of the airline, that was reliable transportation.
As a manager, you have the power and responsibility to strengthen the first link in the serviceprofit chain: employee capability.
Leadership Insight: A drop of water领导力洞察力:一滴水
So Pace was undergoing transformation. Previously, the company had become very internalized. We make very complex technology products where the systems and processes all were becoming more and more about ourselves and our own inefficiencies and inadequacies. And this had to be changed.
We needed to become a customer-centric organization. A lot of companies pay lip service to that, and they feel they should say those things. But we did it in a very dramatic way.
I stood up in front of the whole company and on the back of the screen behind me I had a simple picture of a drop of water falling into still water and concentric rings all coming out from it.
Now bear in mind that the audience I'm talking to is a bunch of cynical, hard engineers who live in their designs and what they do, and the last thing they think about is the customer. I needed them to understand how important that is. So this picture signified the customer was the drop of water. And the concentric rings would be: from then onward, all the systems and processes — the very structure and culture of the company — was going to change to put the customer at the heart of our business.
Because I know if you launch a phrase like that, everybody gives a big yawn and says they've heard it all before. But we need the company to understand that we were embarking on a radical change in how we operate from then onward. And so to meet the customers' requirements, we were going to join people much closer to the market and the customer, so they could hear what the customer was saying. So we created small, nimble, agile teams with everything they needed to serve the customer.
And that produced, then, a direct connection to the market. That engaged those engineers and those commercial people directly in what was going on in the market, to produce the types of products our customers would need.
That eliminated a lot of bureaucracy in decision making that just got in the way and, for real, put the customer at the heart of the business.
And as the ripples went out, that fed through from the design of the product to how we bought components, where we manufactured, and how we manufactured. This produced a dramatic increase: just within three years, the company went from a market capitalization of $100 million to $1.1 billion.
By engaging your employees with customers, your organization can better serve their needs.
The cycle of mediocrity平常衰落循环
Right now, everybody is trying to sprinkle a little fairy dust on the customer
service issue and hope things get better.
–Frederick Reichheld
Low employee job satisfaction and high employee turnover can create a downward spiral that causes sales and profits to plummet.
For example, low employee job satisfaction can lead to a poor service attitude, which in turn can lead to low customer satisfaction.
Similarly, high employee turnover can disrupt continuity with customers; the resulting customer defection has an adverse effect on profits. Moreover, lower profits adversely affect training and job expectations. The consequence—low job satisfaction—starts the cycle of mediocrity over again.
The high cost of turnover高周转成本
Research suggests that employees place a high value in their jobs on capability—which can be translated roughly as the latitude and ability to deliver results to both internal and external customers. High perceived capability can, in turn, lead to reductions in the rate of employee turnover.
Successful organizations have lower employee turnover than their competitors. Even firms that have relied upon high employee turnover—for example, fast-food chains, which have tended to hire low-skilled employees at minimal wages and provide them with minimal training—are beginning to understand that satisfied, long-term employees help build customer loyalty and satisfaction and cost less to manage. As a consequence, these companies are starting to question their traditional assumptions.
The visible costs of bad hires and high employee turnover show up in related costs, such as:
• Additional recruiting and training expenses
• Lower productivity on the part of co-workers and managers 
   A broad range of hidden costs can be equally damaging. High employee 
   turnover can have a negative impact on:
• The morale of other employees
• The quality of service provided
• Customer retention
• Productivity and profitability
Use the information you generate from calculating the cost of employee turnover in your own organization to help convince colleagues that it makes economic sense to hire, train, support, and reward loyal employees.
The cycle of success成功的循环
Most managers sincerely want to make changes that would "turn things around," but good intentions often fall by the wayside due to the pressure for short-term performance. How can a cycle of mediocrity be turned into a cycle of success? You can create the cycle of success by starting at the beginning.
Select for attitude, train for skills选态度,练技能
Skills can be taught, but it's difficult to train someone to have the right attitude. The most successful service organizations hire first for attitude and only secondly for skills. They train new hires in the skills they need for their jobs.
Everyone in the organization needs to have a customer-focused attitude. No one should be exempt, not even workers who spend little or no time in front of customers.
For example, a talented but egomaniacal software programmer can delay product releases and make life truly miserable for teammates. If the programmer's attitude problems go unchecked, delays will continue, and the most highly skilled co-workers will find jobs with a competitor.
Invest in training投资培训
Make sure that new employees receive training in the skills and tools they need to perform their jobs well. Training should include an appropriate mix of interpersonal and technical skills. Training in interpersonal skills is not only important for employees who spend a great deal of time interacting with external customers; effective people skills are also required for serving internal
customers—others within an organization—and for performing on a team.
Training takes time and money. Organizations that invest in employee development find there are payoffs in terms of reduced employee turnover, improved service quality, and increased productivity. The result is increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Provide tools and support提供工具和支持
Once you have hired winners, you must give them the chance to "win" on their jobs. When you provide your employees with the tools and support they need, they will perform better and feel better about their jobs. The payoff is increased employee loyalty, which translates into increased customer loyalty as well.
Without adequate support systems, even the best hires cannot provide the results and service that they want to give customers. Well-designed support systems, such as technology, information systems, workplace design, and service facilities, all contribute to employee capability.
Allow latitude within limits允许纬度在限制范围内
Micromanagement is demeaning and frustrating to capable employees. They resent being treated as incompetent, and they become dissatisfied with their work. Their productivity declines. The most valuable employees will find work somewhere else.
Once you've hired the right people, trained them to make sure they have the right skills, and provided them with effective support, give them expanded latitude to deliver value to customers.
Latitude gives these employees the power and responsibility to make quick decisions and to recover decisively from mistakes. An organization benefits from capable employees' judgment and decision-making capabilities.
But latitude must be accompanied by limits. Determining the right latitude and limits depends on the circumstances. Greater employee latitude is especially beneficial in jobs that are difficult to supervise—or jobs that require a great deal of interaction combined with a need for quick service recovery.
Reward for results成果奖励
" All other things being equal, the best people will stay with the company that pays them the most. Loyalty leaders know this, and they share their "loyalty surplus" with employees as well as stockholders.
–Frederick Reichheld
Recognize and reward your people for their ongoing contributions to service. Tie rewards directly to goals. Rewards should reflect the culture and values of your organization and should take into account what motivates your employees.
While it may be easier to measure and evaluate effort, remember that your objective is to deliver results to customers. Reward employees who achieve results rather than merely make an effort.
Communication is key沟通是关键

The relationship between the loyal customer and the successful organization is a dynamic, ongoing process based on constant two-way communication and responsiveness.
The difference between average and excellent organizations is how effectively management generates feedback, listens to it, communicates the information internally, and acts on it. Instead of "telling" through constant advertising and hard-sell pitches, companies must focus on "listening." Every organization already has built-in mechanisms for getting feedback, but they are not necessarily used well.
Get customer feedback获取客户反馈

All the smiles in the world aren't going to help you if your product or service is not what the customer wants.
–Carl Sewell and Paul Brown
The successful company is the one that meets and exceeds the expectations of its target customers. To accomplish this, it listens continually to its target customers to find out what products and services they want to meet their needs, and the way in which they want the products or services delivered. But customers are moving targets—their expectations are constantly changing. For this reason, organizations need as many opportunities to hear and respond to
customer feedback as they can find. Every organization has listening posts, places where employees hear customer feedback. Organizations can create both formal and informal ways to find out how they're doing.
Leadership Insight: A wedge of lime领导力洞察:一块石灰
There's an interesting thing about Corona beer that a lot of people don't know about. A lot of people realize that Corona uses, in their advertising and, in fact, the way the beer is served, they use a wedge of lime in the bottle. Now, here's the story. It turns out that when this was initially being done, it was being done by people, consumers, who were consuming and drinking the beer. The people at Corona, the company — actually a Mexican company called Grupo Modelo — didn't like this.
And the reason they didn't like this is because they recycle their bottles. And this meant that every time there was a wedge in a bottle, it had to be taken out when the bottle had to be cleaned, to be reused. So they tried to initially discourage this.
And then they realized that consumers really like this ritual of putting the lime in the bottle. Since then, it's become part of the way that Corona beer gets marketed, to the point that they put it in all of their advertising.
To me, this is a wonderful example of how you learn from your customers, from your consumers, what's important to them. See, a lot of brands don't understand that a brand is more than just a logo, it's a relationship with a customer. And the customer co-creates this relationship with all kinds of rituals — in this particular case, something as simple as a wedge of lime in the bottle.
That today has made Corona beer iconic. When you see a clear glass bottle of beer with a wedge of lime, you almost don't have to see the brand name on it, you know that it's Corona.
So, great example of how you can use a consumer ritual as part of your brand, a ritual that the consumer has initiated. When companies embrace consumer rituals as part of their brand, the customer relationship thrives.
Tools for getting feedback获取反馈的工具
All tools that measure feedback are best used in an atmosphere of trust. They should be used to gather useful information as a way to improve products and services, not as weapons or methods for assigning blame or punishing people. And all tools should measure both positive and negative feedback.
Listening posts include:
• Web sites. Your company's Web site offers an excellent arena for obtaining customer feedback quickly and easily. Make the most of e-mail functionality by soliciting general feedback prominently on your site and posting e-mail addresses for designated contact people. Scan bulletin boards either on your site or look at those of competitors to find out what people are saying about your products or services.
• Audits. 审计Audits take many forms. Perhaps the most popular among them is "mystery shopping." Mystery shopping may consist of actual visits to retail or other business sites, calls to customer service providers, or the actual consumption of either products or services. It is thought to offer a high degree of objectivity, although employees can regard it as unfair or even as "spying," if not evenly conducted to identify ways in which efforts can be improved.
• Market research. Many large corporations hire market research firms to do extensive studies that explore demographics, lifestyles, buying habits, preferences, and buying patterns. Small businesses may not be able to commission such extensive studies, but they can get data from the Small Business Administration.
• Focus groups. There are many kinds of focus groups, from small, informal meetings to elaborate, carefully orchestrated sessions. An informal group of customers from a target market can help a company testing an initial product idea, design, or concept. As the product develops, the company may begin to conduct more geographically expansive, professionally organized focus groups. Focus groups are excellent for testing products and services, but the focus group phenomenon can send an unfocused company into disarray as it becomes unable to think clearly in the face of often contradictory results.
• The ordering process. One of the most overlooked listening posts is the ordering process.Whether an order is taken in person, over the phone, or on the Web, valuable information can be obtained from customers by asking the right questions and listening carefully at this contact point.
• Satisfaction cards. Most service industries give customers a chance to fill out guest satisfaction cards. Today, they're prevalent in industries like food and lodging, health care, and automotive care.
• Surveys. A well-designed survey can help you determine what you are doing to deliver the greatest satisfaction, or lack of it. More elaborate than a satisfaction card, a survey measures many areas of satisfaction. Sometimes a written survey is followed up with a phone interview. Information gathered from surveys can be used to replicate the most successful strategies and solve the problem areas.
• The customer service process. Complaints that arise in the course of serving a customer should be carefully studied and responded to promptly. At one successful hotel chain, when a customer complains, it is noted on a Guest Incident Form and entered that day into a database so that other hotel personnel can be notified. This helps employees know that the guest may need special attention.
• Follow-up satisfaction calls. Recently, many organizations have established a follow-up satisfaction call as another listening post in their customer relationships. More elaborate than a card, but less involved than a comprehensive survey, the follow-up call is a personal, brief phone call that takes place shortly after a transaction. A representative calls the customer to make sure that everything is okay and ask a few, simple questions about their
products and services.
The well-trained representative can spot service recovery problems before they begin, and can reveal more general information about what the target customer values or does not value.
For example, a major optical company calls customers about a week after they buy a pair of glasses. They check to make sure that the glasses fit properly, and invite the customer in for a follow-up fitting. At that time, representatives also ask a few other, brief questions that measure satisfaction. This "extra" service distinguishes this optical company from its competitors, and helps ensure repeat business.
Follow-up calls are also excellent marketing tools, establishing a feeling of trust between the company and the customer. A follow-up satisfaction call should be a sincere effort to ask about and provide service. It should not be used to "sell." If the caller uses a satisfaction call as a trick to "push" products, the customer will become annoyed.
Leadership Insight: Word of mouth领导力洞察力:口碑
One of the things we are learning in the media is that the change that we're going through right now is something that is going to extend itself beyond media companies. One of the key elements we're learning in the media is that we have to pay more attention to the consumer.
The consumer has got much, much more control of the relationship than they used to and that's really going to be true in almost every business from now on. And that's one of the things digital platforms do; they match buyers with sellers — it's the reason eBay works so well, or Amazon.
You can find something you're looking for in a much easier way than you used to be able to. Any company has to worry about the fact that consumers can find information wherever they want and has to understand what that consumer wants and go after the consumer, and build a relationship with the consumer to keep them, to make them understand why they should stay with their product.
So a great example of that is a company called "Nespresso." They built a business where, 15 years ago when they started to build this business, you had to buy the coffee directly from them. They treasured that and they stayed after the consumer, wanted the consumer to have a good experience.
So the consumer would call in and order the coffee by phone, even though they could get the machine at any number of stores. This phone call was the first connection the company would have one-on-one with the customer and they encouraged customers to call in and to order. And they would do what they could to get them all their canisters. But they used the opportunity to speak to them.
An interesting thing happened: the Web came along and they also opened up some stores — they could have personal contact in stores. They actually built a Web site where you could order the coffee from. And a huge percentage of people moved to the Web to order the coffee. The interesting thing was they didn't stop calling though. They liked the calling experience so much that, even though they weren't buying from the phone bank, they were actually calling and asking questions about the coffee and doing stuff.
And the company, instead of cutting back on the call center and firing people and laying them off or trying to shorten the length of calls, went the other way. Invested more in it, added more people, and created what is an old fashioned social network, but the ultimate social network.
You're actually talking to your consumers and customers and learn so much on a continuing basis that they encouraged their people, on the phone, to stay on the phone with customers — to talk to them more, to chat them up about new coffees that are coming and to explain how the company does everything it does.
And the business has grown dramatically. They're extremely happy with it. They have more and more customers every month. They've cut way back on traditional advertising. They believe word of mouth is what matters in that business and that social networking and all of the things that are at the heart of a consumer relationship are the heart of their business.
Adapt your service strategy to the unique needs of your consumer. In the case of Nespresso, phone conversations provided the personal touch that their customers craved.
Observing the customer观察客户
There is no substitute for watching your customers while they are using your product or service. Get out into the field with qualified observers, and see how your customers use your product in real life. You'll find out what they like, what they don't like, and ways that they would improve your product or service. You'll be surprised to hear things you never even thought of.
For example, at a major photocopying company, observers in the field found that copy machines were usually placed in storerooms. People frequently stood on the machine to reach the highest shelves. Knowing this, product designers created a copy machine strong enough to support a person's weight.
When you go into the field, bring along observers with different backgrounds and skills. Different perspectives can provide valuable information.
Customer Value Equation顾客价值方程
What is value? Think about your own experience as a customer—how do you determine what is most important to you? Did you get the results you expected? Were the results delivered the way you wanted them? Did the supplier make it convenient for you to acquire the product or service
you wanted? Was the price what you were hoping for?
A calculation known as the Customer Value Equation factors in all these considerations to arrive at a measure of customer value. But before we look at the calculation itself, let's examine each factor that goes into it in greater detail.
• Results. Customers buy results. They don't buy products and services. A customer buys a prescription to deal with an ailment. The result is a cure. A customer fills the car with gas. The result is transportation. The customer buys a dinner at a fancy restaurant. The result is a pleasant evening of fine dining and entertainment.
• Process quality. The process quality is the way the product or service is delivered. Process quality is a combination of such factors as dependability, timeliness, and a professional attitude on the part of any representatives of the company.
• Price and access costs. Price is only one factor in the ultimate cost of the product or service to the customer. When customers consider price, they also add in the access costs. 
A cheaper product that requires the customer to drive 60 miles to obtain it may not be worth the price. The added cost of overnight delivery may be well worth it to a customer, who may willingly pay extra for the added convenience.
Develop satisfaction goals for profitable customers
You've listened to the customer. You understand what the customer wants and expects. You know what the customer values. Now you have enough information to develop Satisfaction Goals.
In addition to sources you have already developed, consider using:
• Service criteria
• Informal polls of employees who deal with customers
• Informal polls of customers
• Informal polls of supervisors
• Experience and judgment
• Common sense (often overlooked)
Key Idea: Set customer-friendly processes
Many problems that arise in serving customers are the result of clumsy processes.
For example, hidden costs or deadlines hinder the delivery of the service.
Customers wait too long on the phone for help. A billing process is complicated and confusing.
Research has shown that there are five generic influences of service process quality that can negatively affect customers:
• Dependability (Did the service provider do what he said he would do?)可靠性
• Responsiveness (Was the service provided in a timely manner?)响应性
• Authority (Did the service provider help the customer feel confident about  
    the service delivery process?)权威
• Empathy (Did the service provider demonstrate the ability to see things from 
   the customer's perspective?)共鸣
• Tangible evidence that a service has been provided.确凿证据
Keep these in mind when problems arise. Chances are the problems will be linked to one or more of the generic influences. To identify process problems, begin by mapping out every step of the process. Examine each step by asking what the purpose of the step is and how it adds value to the service or product. Explore the source of each problem step.
If customers aren't satisfied, it doesn't necessarily mean they received bad service. In fact, the best customer service in the world won't help if your business processes aren't designed to be customer-friendly.
Leadership Insight: The Ritz领导洞察力:丽兹酒店
I was standing outside room 1036 of the Ritz-Carlton, just off the Boston Common, equipped with a room service cart with a light meal for two on it, with my trainer, Steve Posner.
I was training for a week to become a room service waiter at the Ritz for the purposes of a Harvard Business Review article I was writing, and was trying to learn how the Ritz achieves what might be called "extreme customer service" on the part of its employees.
I raised my hand to the door, going over the script in my head, pretty frightened as it turned out. I knocked on the door and said, "Good evening, in-room dining." I walked in with my cart, pushing rather than pulling it so that it kind of jiggled and tinkled and almost tipped over as I went into the room, and asked the woman in the room if I could open the bottle of water for her and help her in any way set up her meal.
And then she said, "That would be fine, if you'd like to," and then basically I stood there, hands behind my back, kind of slack-jawed and desperately trying to remember what I was supposed to do next.
Suddenly I remembered, "A-ha! Explain to them what they're receiving tonight." So I lifted off the warming tray and said, "You have a cheeseburger medium rare and a salad and beer and water." And then I stood there again.
Meanwhile my trainer, having basically given up on my ever opening the bottle of water, went over and did just that, and tried to smooth things over for me as we left the room. As we headed down in the elevator, he said, "We've got a little more training to take care of."
This was kind of my maiden voyage as a room service waiter at the Ritz, but the purpose of my going through the training and the process was really to try to find out what makes that hotel chain so successful in providing service to its customers.
They have a lot of rules, they have a very extensive training program, which they offer actually to other companies trying to offer top notch customer service. But my strongest takeaway from the week I spent learning to be a room service waiter was that empathy may be the most important aspect of providing extreme customer service.
The problem with my first trip into that room was I was thinking all about myself and not about my customer, my guest in that hotel. And the challenge over the course of my week was to get outside my own head and to get inside the heads of the people I was serving.
There was one instance where my trainer, Steve, did a wonderful thing. We were taking some champagne and pastries up to a room of a newlywed couple who would be arriving in a couple of hours. He not only was very careful in putting the rose petals around the champagne glasses, crossing the spoon — there was a lot of care given — but he was also at that very moment thinking about his own grandparents' wedding.
And he told me as we were doing this, he said, "On my grandparents' 75th anniversary, they showed pictures of their wedding. And while the pictures were old and kind of funny and from long ago, it meant something to them. And I want this experience to be meaningful to these people as well."
Empathy, getting inside the heads of the people you're trying to serve, was my strongest lesson I had from that experience as a room service waiter.