Be Your Customer’s Hero: A book review by Bob Morris

Be Your Customer'sBe Your Customer’s Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines
Adam Toporek
AMACOM (2015)

How to Create the Ultimate Customer Relationship

I am amazed, frankly, that customer service today is worse than at any prior time I can remember. As a result, cordial as well as competent front liners – those who have direct and frequent contact with customers – are more important than ever before.

Major research conducted by highly reputable firms such as Gallup and Towers Watson reveal that when asked to rank what is most important to them, both employees and customers (in separate surveys) indicate that feeling appreciated is either #1 or #2 on their list. Moreover, in the same separate surveys, employees rank compensation and customers rank price somewhere between #7 and #12.

Years ago, Maya Angelou observed, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Presumably she did not have the aforementioned research in mind, but her comments eloquently emphasize the importance of being appreciated by those in need of your assistance, not only in the workplace but everywhere else as well.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Adam Toporek’s coverage:

o Be Proud, and Then Swallow Your Pride (Pages 15-17)
o Keep our Cool hen the Ball Comes at You (18-20)

Seven Customer Service Triggers to Avoid

o #1: Being Ignored (46)
o #2: Being Abandoned (47-49)
o How to Avoid Triggers #1 and #2 (50-54)
o #3: Being Hassled (55-57)
o #4: Being Faced with Incompetence (58-61)
o #5: Being Shuffled (62-65)
o #6: Being Powerless (66-67)
o #7: Being Disrespected (68-69)

o Team and Showtime Concept (78-79)
o Judge Not, Lest Ye Miss an Opportunity (109-111)
o Dealing with Upset Customers: “Let Them Punch Themselves Out” (174-177)
o Social Media (225-228)
o What Makes a Hero-Class Customer Experience? (229-232)
o Adopt the Mindset of a Hero (233-234)

What are the defining characteristics of Hero-Class Customer Mindset? In brief, “you have a desire to serve the customer and make her happy and you are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen…Adopting a Hero-Class mindset also involves the ability to keep failure in perspective. As you begin integrating these tips and techniques into your customer care, you’re going to fail on occasion. Either the technique won’t work, or you’ll fail to execute it properly. The key is not to let yourself get rattled when this happens, and not to let yourself lose faith in the techniques.”

It would be a serious mistake to assume that the abundance of info0rmation, insights, and counsel provided by Adam Toporek will be of greatest value only to those who interact directly and frequently with customers or, if you prefer, clients. With all due respect to the great importance of front liners, this material (with only minor modification) can also be invaluable to communication, cooperation, and (especially) collaboration between and among those within the given enterprise. There are almost unlimited opportunities to provide what I characterize as “superior colleague service” or (if you prefer) “superior associate service.”

In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill shares a simple but immensely important revelation. With introductions provided by Andrew Carnegie, Hill obtained lengthy interviews with 45 of the world’s most successful businessmen at that time. They included Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, and John D. Rockefeller. All agreed on one key to success. Here it is: “An important principle of success in all walks of life and in all occupations is a willingness to ‘Go The Extra Mile,’ which means the rendering of more and better service than that for which one is paid, and giving it in a positive mental attitude. Search wherever you will for a single sound argument against this principle and you will not find it, nor will you find a single instance of enduring success, which was not attained in part by its effective application.”

Those who read this book will be well-prepared to go “Go The Extra Mile” for their customers in today’s global marketplace but also for anyone else within and beyond their company. Adam Toporek provides everything they need. I urge them to develop the mindset, master the skills, and become a “Hero” before their competition does…and to keep in mind that there is always competition within as well as outside any organization.

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