Improving service quality has finally become a top priority of management today, yet according to service quality expert Leonard Berry only a handful of companies have managed to determine exactly what to improve and how to improve it. For the past two years, Berry studied dozens of companies of all sizes renowned for their capacity to deliver what they promise and more. From his on-site observation of the strategies and practices of such companies as Mary Kay Cosmetics, Tattered Cover Book Store, Longo Toyota & Lexus, Lakeland Regional Medical Center, and Hard Rock Cafe, Berry has constructed a dynamic new framework for improving service.
This framework provides a roadmap for implementation found nowhere else in the service quality literature. In every chapter Berry draws on his twelve years of research in service quality to explain each part of the framework in detail. He provides rich insights and inspiring examples of great service -- including numerous examples unique to this book as well as the classic success stories of USAA, Taco Bell, and many more. Berry shows that a company must (1) develop service leadership skills and values -- a concept substantially different from developing general leadership; (2) build a service quality information system; and (3) create a comprehensive service strategy based on the four principles of great service: reliability, surprise, recovery, and fairness. He demonstrates how these four principles, when adopted by the leadership and infused into the systems of a service company, are the building blocks of the framework and form the anchor for implementation.
Berry shows how the "artistry" of great service can be systematically created from this foundation through a company's organizational structure, technology, and often under utilized human resources assets. He challenges service managers to set their service quality aspirations higher, and his innovative, practical ideas will help them achieve those higher standards. Linking service excellence to value creation, Berry provides solid financial reasons for the necessity of great service. Here, at last, is the book for which managers in every service industry have waited: Leonard Berry's "operating manual" for turning plans for great service into action.
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Simon & Schuster
March 31, 1995
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Excerpt from On Great Service by Leonard L. Berry
Chapter 1: A FRAMEWORK FOR GREAT SERVICE
Manager, West Point Market July 14, 1994
1711 West Market Street
Akron, OH 44313
Dear Sir or Madam:
I feel compelled to write to tell you how much I enjoyed my trip to the West Point Market last weekend, and particularly how good the service was at the market.
From time to time, I drive all the way from Columbus to shop at your market because I have found no place like it in the State. What a delight it is to be able to find everything I could possibly need for even the most exotic recipes in one store!
Last weekend, in addition to the wonderful food, I found that the service was particularly good. In the produce department, a young woman got a special container to pack my fresh figs in, so that they would not get smashed on the trip back. Also while I was shopping for my produce, I asked one of the employees what lychee nuts were. She not only explained where they come from and how they are served, but she sliced one open and offered me a sample.
Then I ordered my lunch at the deli counter, and found when it arrived that I could not carry my tray very well because I was holding my baby son. An employee who was apparently on her lunch break gave up her place in line right behind me to carry my tray to the table. The young men at the checkout counter also noticed that I had my arms full of baby, and packed all of my groceries in bags with handles. One of them then helped me out to my car and loaded the groceries inside.
Each of the employees who helped me out did so without my asking, and seemed happy to be of assistance to me. It is so rare to find such service at any store these days. Please know how much I enjoy and appreciate the top-notch service and the delightful shopping experience that West Point Market offers. I intend to shop there for many years to come.
Very truly yours,
West Point Market delivers great service. Doing business in Akron, Ohio, since 1936, it is a gem of a retail store that sells specialty foods of exceptionally high quality. What makes the store so special, however, is that the service is of exceptionally high quality, too. Ronda Shamansky's letter conveys the attachment many customers feel toward this store. Customers love West Point Market, principally because West Point Market loves its customers. West Point Market's prices are not low. It doesn't matter. Without low prices, it still competes on value. Many customers, including Mrs. Shamansky, come from out of town just to shop at the store.
Infused throughout this book are practical lessons from West Point Market and many other companies that deliver great service to their customers. Among the companies readers will meet in this book are:
* Longo Toyota and Lexus, one of the most successful automobile dealerships in the world
* Mary Kay Cosmetics, a magical company that has produced more female millionaires than any other company in the world
* Roberts Express, a trucking company, and De Mar, a plumbing, heating, air conditioning and refrigeration company, that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and thrive on helping customers with emergencies solve their problems
* Tattered Cover Book Store, one of America's largest independent bookstores that is remarkable in its passion for books and customers whom they help find that one elusive title
* Hard Rock Cafe, a restaurant and merchandiser that attracted hordes of customers on its first day and still does more than 20 years later
* Lakeland Regional Medical Center, a pioneer in introducing patient-focused health care in America
* Bank One Texas Trust Division, which made service quality the centerpiece of its strategy, and grew to more than $4 billion in trust assets in its first three years of operation
* Harold's, an upscale clothing store in business since 1950 that grows more than 10 percent each year despite infrequent sale events and a location long past its prime
Great service is rare, but it is not an impossible dream. American companies in every industry are delivering great service and profiting handsomely from their excellence. The companies just mentioned and numerous others discussed in this book are role model companies that have implemented great service and are highly successful because of it.