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Monday, 06 June 2011 16:20

Make your company work for you

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Considering the substantial amount of time that the average person spends at work, one would assume that a person would join a company whose professional values echo the employee’s personal beliefs. The truth is far removed from this notion. Author and international consultant Stan Slap believes that gaining the emotional commitment of a company’s managers is, as he puts it, “worth more than financial, intellectual and physical commitment combined.” In this interview, he discusses his book “Bury My Heart at Conference Room B,” why managers fall victim to a herd mentality and how a company can best get out of…
Monday, 06 June 2011 16:09

Solutions 101

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One of my favorite entertainment genres is the adventure where the protagonist finds him or herself in an improbable situation. Sometimes this comes in the form of a traditional mystery or detective story, but I also enjoy those that contain a supernatural twist.In these tales, the “hero” faces two seemingly herculean tasks: Figure out what the heck is going on, and develop a viable solution to the problem.This genre is intriguing for several reasons.First, I prefer entertainment that’s an escape from reality. Second, these escapes must contain some sort of mystery that lets me follow along and ponder potential solutions.…
Early in my career, I worked for a CEO who was fond of pontificating about how one doesn’t need to always project an image of being the most brilliant, sophisticated businessperson and that this power image could actually be a detriment in certain circumstances. He would conclude his mini-sermon by flashing a smirk and reciting his favorite old German saying: “The dumbest farmers grow the biggest potatoes.” I was in my mid-20s in those days, and in hindsight, I most likely didn’t fully appreciate my boss’s words of wisdom because I had assumed the best tactic was never let them…
Monday, 06 June 2011 14:58

Put it in writing

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If you had the chance to share with your peers a great way to handle a particular business problem, would you do it? Most of us would say yes, because most people like to help others and share their successes.For instance, Michael Feuer, the founder of OfficeMax and our longtime columnist, has a book available this month that shares more than 40 business lessons he has learned while taking his company from a startup to more than $5 billion in sales. He covers everything from getting through the startup phase to selling a business. No matter what phase of business…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:19

Cleveland Clinic

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What is your organization’s philosophy of customer service?‘Patients First’ is the guiding principle of Cleveland Clinic. Patient experience is a key component of Cleveland Clinic’s strategic plan to achieve a coordinated delivery model that integrates patient-centered care with clinical outcomes, quality, safety and employee experience.A culture centered on Patients First acknowledges that the technical aspects of what we do are not enough. It takes the integration of clinical treatment, empathy and the best physical, emotional and spiritual experiences to positively impact a patient’s perception of care and the outcomes of their treatment. How does your organization make customer service a…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:14

Staying the Course

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Since 1993, John Robert’s Spa has been one of Northeast Ohio’s great success stories, growing from two employees and 900 square feet to a collection of upscale salons and spas. It has been selected multiple times as one of the top 20 salons in America. During one of the most difficult business climates, Stacy DiJulius, co-owner of John Robert’s, was tragically killed in an automobile accident March 2009. All of this led to questions of whether this company would be able to survive the loss of their visionary leader? Would John Robert’s close? Would they have to sell?Strategy“It rallied an…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

The answer is yes

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Employees at PartsSource Inc. know that customer service is what their company is all about. From the first day they begin work at the medical parts supplier, they are given two weeks of intensive classroom customer service training.After a new hire has completed training, he or she moves on to a designated area of the call center where a training and development manager oversees and helps with customer interaction. Twice a week, the company also conducts training classes for both new hires and existing account managers to make sure they are clear on the company’s product offerings and processes.Even President…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

Lending the edge

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When a customer had trouble with material delivery delays because of unique scheduling demands, Olympic Steel Inc. decided to institute a more flexible on-demand shipping process to ensure its trucking fleet could always respond immediately to that customer’s delivery requests. The new process not only improved the customer’s efficiency and productivity, but ultimately, it improved its ability to better serve its own customers, as well.It’s this kind of tailored problem-solving that has helped grow Olympic Steel into a top supplier of flat-rolled steel products. With 16 locations nationwide, the company drives customer loyalty by consistently demonstrating its ability to anticipate…
While many people complain about the work ethic of the younger generation, in world-class customer service companies, I see the exact opposite. They have cult-like cultures where their employees, many between 17 and 25, make ridiculous sacrifices ensuring co-workers and customers receive the experienced promised. Why do a few companies have these employees, while so many other companies are constantly turning over this same age group? Yes, one answer is that they select better candidates. However, I truly believe there is only a small fraction of people who burn with the service DNA to serve people. The rest are grown…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

Icing on the cake

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The demanding owner of some well-known restaurant chains was running out of fondue and apricot grilling sauces. When the account manager could not be reached, a Nestle USA order coordinator stepped up to the plate. After conference calls and working long hours into the night, she solved the sauce shortage and kept the restaurants from running out. The coordinator drew compliments from the restaurant owner for her cooperation.Stories like that tell how important relationships are to Nestle USA and Michael Coburn, director of customer service.The customer is the No. 1 priority at Nestle USA, and building a personal relationship with…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:04

Staying on top

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Great customer service never goes out of style, but there are times when it’s even more appreciated than normal. SS&G has learned that recessions are a time when clients are thirsting for expertise to help them get through financial challenges and come out the other end in good shape.It’s why Gary S. Shamis, the accounting firm’s managing director, pushes the idea of building partnerships with his clients. He wants his people to be like family to clients and his firm a place where they can turn for answers rather than red tape and more headaches.The firm is always looking for…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

Servant leaders

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Imagine for a minute if how much your physician was paid was based on how happy you were with your doctor’s visit. While it sounds odd, the health care organization Emergency Medicine Physicians is just more proof that tying incentive into customer satisfaction makes a difference.As changes abound in the health care industry, it’s more important than ever to find ways to make the patient experience as positive as possible. However, EMP’s commitment to patient satisfaction isn’t something that’s forced on the organization’s employees, and that’s because EMP employees are actually their own bosses. EMP is 100 percent physician-owned all…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:57

Rock solid

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While you might want to reminisce about the days of old and rock ‘n’ roll, that’s only a part of what Rock the House Entertainment is all about. Offering concierge-class customer service for occasions ranging from corporate events to weddings, Rock the House wants to create an experience that CEO Matt Radicelli and staff want customers to remember for a long time.It all starts with the initial contact ? 80 percent of business is through word-of-mouth ? as the RTHLive software keeps track of all e-mails, conversations and other interactions with customers so that all departments are on the same…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

A service quest

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When one customer went into Dave’s Markets, she was anticipating only getting a few items quickly, but a half-hour later she left with a full shopping cart and feeling quite special. In those short 30 minutes, many employees had asked her if she needed help and a cashier even opened up for her and then asked her if she needed help getting to her car. Even as she left the store, an employee in the parking lot said he would take her cart for her. All of these experiences culminated in one thing: an extremely satisfied customer who will return…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:53

Class act

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With a heritage that goes back to César Ritz, nicknamed “the hotelier to kings,” The Ritz-Carlton upholds his belief that guests come first and that the customer is never wrong. What makes service so distinctive is the hotel’s ability to perceive, empathize, anticipate and respond and to share something in meaningful ways with guests.When employees are hired, they go through multistage interviews so that the executive team will be able to determine skills, work personality and their ability to respond to theoretical situations. In short, people who have a vested interest in wanting to engage guests and exceed their expectations…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

Staying ahead of problems

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Chris Adams witnessed Cox New England-Cleveland’s exemplary customer service without even picking up the phone. A severe wind storm was blowing through his Lakewood neighborhood that ended up knocking out his power for three days. But before he or his neighbors even knew if the storm had affected their TV and Internet services, Cox was there to scope out possible damage.“Before a customer even knew if their Cox services were out, Cox technicians were in the neighborhood, proactively checking and fixing connections and lines,” Adams wrote in a letter. “Once our power was finally restored three days later, Cox services…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:43

Ready to serve

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It didn’t look good for The Equity Engineering Group Inc. The company was working with a vendor to install Microsoft Dynamics GP on its server, but the installation was not going smoothly.Unsure of what to do about the problem, the company turned to Skoda Minotti. The accounting firm determined that Equity Engineering Group needed to create a test environment to safely make alterations to the application without any risk of damaging the production environment.Skoda Minotti jumped on the challenge and soon decided that if Equity Engineering Group contacted Microsoft, it might be able to reach a quick solution to its…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:41

Making raving fans

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When the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society came to The Shamrock Cos., it brought a challenge to the company, which does marketing communications and project management.The chapter needed to devise a new option for producing race event participant materials for its Pedal to the Point fundraiser, and it needed to save time and money while creating efficiencies on and before race day. Shamrock, under the leadership of CEO Robert Troop, was ready and able to assist. The company was able to create a final product that completely eliminated the need for manual assembly and any chance of…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

Cleanup position

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When customers call Coit Cleaning & Restoration Services to clean draperies, upholstery, carpet, air ducts or area rugs, technicians will work hard to deliver more than the desired service ? far above expectations actually. They strive to deliver what Coit calls unanticipated service. Comments such as, “Wow,” “I couldn’t imagine,” and “I never thought,” are common.It all starts with the philosophy that President Harvey Siegel and all Coit employees, regardless of their position or day-to-day role, are customer service representatives. Employees are trained to provide professional, superior service while providing on-time quality workmanship the first time. They are responsible for…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

World-Class attitudes

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In life, as in business, sometimes the things that you least expect have the biggest impact on you. As always, after the 33rd group of business leaders regaled the judges with their unique and compelling vignettes on how they made price irrelevant or why their training gave them a competitive advantage, I was impressed. What blew me away, however, were their attitudes.Not one of the 33 presenters mentioned publically or privately that the weather was as awful on the night of our reception as it had been all winter. None of them complained about the realities of the harsh business…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:36

Down to business

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In the office supply industry, you can very easily become just another name in the Yellow Pages. With competing companies offering many of the same products, Today’s Business Products — led by co-founder, President and CEO Rick Voigt — has recognized that the key to winning in the marketplace is delivering the best possible customer service.Voigt and his staff realize that customer service has to develop into a large-scale philosophy within an organization. But they also know that great service can often be found in the details.With that in mind, the company’s staff finds ways to make daily life a…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:34

Solution driven

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Although the industry of Staffing Solutions Enterprises has been commoditized over the years, the recruitment solutions provider has been resolute in pricing services based on the value proposition the company delivers.The company is built on a foundational belief that savvy customers understand the difference between highly discounted services and service that is priced appropriately to support delivery of exemplary service.With a high level of understanding of the market they service, Staffing Solutions Enterprises, led by founder and CEO Carmella Calta, has fashioned a specialized approach to building and maintaining loyal clients.The company has a service standards program, which allows staff…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

Stepping up

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It was shaping up to be a very bad day for Parker Hannifin Corp. until Keith Shopnick, general manager at Cleveland Marriott East, literally plowed through the brutal snow and cold to make it all better.The problem was a brutal winter storm that was wreaking havoc throughout Northeast Ohio. Parker had a number of potential recruits at the Cleveland Marriott East hotel and needed to get them to the headquarters of the motion and control technology company in Mayfield Heights.Unfortunately, the company expected to bring these people to Parker failed to show and a replacement vehicle was nowhere to be…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

For the long term

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It was a warm August day last year when the chilled water system at Cuyahoga Community College’s Metro Campus burst. The plant operations director called it catastrophic. A call was made at 7 a.m. to The Brewer-Garrett Co., who maintained the facilities with Tri-C. By 7:30 a.m., pipefitters and supervisors were on the job. A second crew was called to simultaneously drain a different part of the system. Both stayed on location until the repairs were finished.Such response and commitment is an indication of how customer service is foremost at the company, which specializes in engineering, design, installation and service…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:24

The extra mile

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When the H1N1 virus outbreak happened, State Industrial Products was slammed with demand for its hand sanitizer 10 times higher than what it had seen in prior years. While this may be difficult for many companies to keep up with, under the leadership of Harold Uhrman, the company, which manufactures and distributes specialty chemicals, was able to successfully meet its customers’ needs.This commitment to meeting customer needs has been crucial to the company’s success for the past 100 years, and unlike many companies, much of the organization’s customer service actually takes place after the sale. State Industrial’s sales and service…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

A better relationship

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Shopping for relationship enhancement products is not quite as easy and straightforward as picking up a gallon of milk in the local grocery store. That’s why Jennifer Downey, president of Ambiance, the self-labeled “store for lovers” puts a strong focus on ensuring the customer feels as comfortable buying an intimate product as he or she would picking up a loaf of bread.Because Ambiance customers are shopping for highly intimate and even some possibly embarrassing items, the store hires employees who can put customers at ease. Employees of the company use exceptional service and attention to detail to help each customer…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:19

A network of support

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Started by a group of parents who saw few true opportunities for their children with cerebral palsy, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland has grown into a support system for people with a wide spectrum of disabilities.The organization keeps its founding mission in mind at all times, and today, it works hard to meet the evolving needs of some of the community’s most vulnerable yet promising members through a continuum of services ranging from early intervention for infants to lifelong adult residential and vocational supports.Patricia Otter, president and CEO of UCP of Greater Cleveland, makes sure that the organization operates…