When a developer/property management company changed accounting firms after a 10-year relationship with a large regional firm, the prospect of adjusting was not pleasant. It would take a true professional to pick up the ball and run with it — a challenge for which SS&G was ready.
SS&G spent many hours with the company’s senior management to gain an understanding of the business and industry, which led to the ability to add significant value beyond the typical audit and tax services. For instance, when that same client was experiencing the recent difficult banking environment, SS&G’s employed its networking relationships to make introductions to several banks in order to refinance the company’s working capital line of credit.
It’s all a part of SS&G’s philosophy to provide the same exceptional level of service to all clients, regardless of category. To that end, the firm recruits, retains and recognizes the most qualified and dedicated professionals and offers them opportunities for personal growth, development and advancement.
Among other awards, SS&G for eight years in a row has been named one of the best employers in the state by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Society of Human Resource Management.
Leading the firm are Bob Littman, CEO, and senior managing directors Gary Shamis and Mark Goldfarb.
How to reach: SS&G Inc., (440) 248-8787 or www.ssandg.com
When Greg Skoda, one of the founders of Skoda Minotti and now chairman, helped launch the accounting and consulting firm, he put into effect a client-focused platform — believing that the firm should deliver on the promise of excellent client service just as seriously as it should ensure technical accuracy.
To that end, when employees answered a recent survey question, “What is our competitive advantage?” the response was “client service.”
Client service continues to be recognized as a key part to the future growth of the firm as it strives for continuous improvement.
A seven-stage Client Service Experience Cycle defines the steps to an optimum client relationship — client setup, internal planning, external planning, fieldwork, delivery, debriefing meeting and relationship management.
Within those seven areas are four categories: service defects, operational, experiential and above-and-beyond. Skoda Minotti expects that the operational and experiential levels will be met. However, the staff strives to reach the above-and-beyond level as well with every client.
This ambitious process helps allow the engagement team to meet and exceed a client’s goals throughout the year. Even the names of awards given to employees reinforce the values and goals of Skoda Minotti. For example, the “Delivering on the Promise,” “You Kept the Promise” and “Above and Beyond” awards recognize excellence in those categories.
How to reach: Skoda Minotti, (440) 449-6800 or www.skodaminotti.com
At The Shamrock Cos. Inc., the mission is to be the premier provider of integrated marketing solutions that help customers build and protect their brands, drive revenue and create efficiency using the right mix of people, services and technology.
The company strives to create an atmosphere that motivates employees, fosters creativity, provides opportunity for personal and professional growth, encourages teamwork and challenges people to consistently meet and exceed expectations of clients.
Led by CEO Robert Troop, its mission and its ability to offer fully integrated, progressive solutions for customers, Shamrock is able to bring value beyond the products and services it offers to clients. With a corporate goal of making every customer a “Raving Fan,” customers know that Shamrock thrives on going the extra mile.
Since implementing its well-known Raving Fan Feedback and Problem Solving Analytical Technique processes 10 years ago, Shamrock has increased manufacturing on-time performance from 96 percent to 99 percent, decreased average manufacturing turnaround from 15 days to less than seven days, increased distribution on-time performance from 95 percent to 99 percent, decreased standard delivery time for pick and pack from 48 hours to nine hours, and decreased customer impacted quality events from 1.2 percent to .25 percent.
How to reach: The Shamrock Cos. Inc., (440) 899-9510 or www.shamrockcompanies.net
Rock Your Prom 2012 began with the modest goal of increasing brand awareness among Northeast Ohio students and school administrators. When it was all said and done, Rock The House Entertainment had provided students from Chardon High School with a night of joy and happiness that they would never forget.
The original prize was to be a $5,000 entertainment package. But when it became clear how much Chardon High students wanted to win this contest in light of the tragic school shooting on Feb. 27, 2012, Rock The House decided to expand the prize in a big way.
Under the leadership of founder and CEO Matt Radicelli, the company reached out to friends in the event industry and garnered support from more than 20 companies.
In the end, the event received more than $150,000 of services, including a national recording artist and the honor of being the first prom to ever be held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
It was a beautiful example of what can happen when a company is willing to stretch itself beyond expectations to make the customer happy. And it gave Chardon students a night to remember in a year that had been tainted with dark memories.
How to reach: Rock The House Entertainment, (440) 232-7625 or www.rthgroup.com
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. launched a new process in 2012 to ensure every employee at Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world are working toward a wildly important goal, or a W.I.G.
By following Stephen Covey’s guide, “The Four Disciplines of Execution,” Ritz-Carlton hotel teams like Kelly Steward, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland and her staff, focus on the most important objectives, define actions to establish a standard for performance, and showcase clear measurements and accountability.
What could be the most important goal for The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland? — Guest engagement. The hotel’s W.I.G is to achieve a certain percentage of guest engagement on its Guest Satisfaction Index Scorecard. With the W.I.G. in place, each department within The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland creates measurements as to how it can aid in achieving the W.I.G. For example, the front desk team created measurements to ensure they say a guest’s name at least three times during check-in or during an interaction. Every employee has a clear measurement to complete on a weekly basis over the year in order to achieve the W.I.G.
The departments create scoreboards to measure their weekly successes and opportunities to improve and corporate calls are held to ensure the hotel is staying on track. The Ritz-Carlton’s overall goal is to provide effective, impressive service.
How to reach: The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland, (216) 623-1300 or www.ritzcarlton.com
Inside the corporate headquarters of PartsSource Inc., you’ll find a whiteboard that reads, “The customer is not always right. The customer is always the customer!”
It’s an acknowledgement that there are times when a customer is in the wrong. But any business that prides itself on providing exceptional service understands that you don’t gain anything by arguing with a customer whom you believe to be wrong. Rather, it’s your job to gain an understanding of the problem and find a way to solve it.
It’s a philosophy that has enabled PartsSource to become a leading provider of medical replacement parts. The company is led by A. Ray Dalton, founder and CEO, and follows a philosophy to do whatever it takes to get customers what they need.
PartsSource works with its customers to locate the parts they need, but then sticks with them throughout the process to make sure the order is filed and then fulfilled properly. This includes a call to verify delivery and confirm that the package contains exactly what was ordered. The effort to be responsive in times of need is continually refined to provide a level of comfort for customers that PartsSource will be there when needed.
How to reach: PartsSource Inc., (877) 497-6412 or www.partssource.com
The World Class Customer Service awards honor companies for their superior customer service. The program serves to raise awareness of the importance of customer service in the business world, recognize organizations that demonstrate exceptional customer service and share best practices in customer service from those that do it best.
Learn more about the class of 2012:
The 2012 World Class Customer Service Awards are presented by Metro Lexus and sponsored by Smart Business, Blue Technologies, The Brewer-Garrett Company, Cleveland Clinic, SummaCare, John Robert's Spa, Colortone Staging & Rentals, and Executive Caterers at Landerhaven.
“We live in Greater Cleveland, we work in Greater Cleveland, now we are working on making Cleveland even greater!” was the beginning of a recent marketing campaign for Metro Lexus. Well, after having the privilege of participating on the panel of judges for this year’s WCCS Awards, you can rest assured that the business community around Northeast Ohio is striving daily to raise the bar and establish new standards of what it means to be “world-class.”
Before I share with you what emerged for me as the common thread that runs through the fabric of the DNA of each of these inspiring organizations, I must first ask you to take a deep breath and try to pull yourself away from your desk and into one of those meditative states of mind. Summer is here, the birds are chirping, and you just finished mowing the lawn. It’s a perfect 85-degree Cleveland day and you have decided to reward yourself with a cold beverage and reflect on life. It has become a perfect “sit on the deck” moment” that we all cherish so much. Unfortunately, the buzzing of a little gnat gets into your ear, annoys you and effectively kills the mood. Your obsession soon becomes squashing the gnat. But regardless of the enormous size disadvantage for the gnat, it keeps coming at you — relentless and fearless. It is willing to continue its pursuit until you either go inside or it ends up on the wrong side of yesterday’s newspaper.
This tenacity, gnat tenacity, for customer service and customer experience resounded through the presentations. It left me both inspired and reminded of what sustains and evolves the great companies — a tenacious commitment to world-class excellence and customer service. As I challenged myself to find new ways to inspire that type of culture within my own organization, I realized that, in many cases, it was already happening. If we recognize those who already have this special approach and allow them the flexibility to make the right decisions for the customer, it will ultimately result in a contagious culture of customer service. Do you just want good customer service within your organization, or are you willing to take on the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges that come along with being the best? You may have a competitor that is tenacious and passionate about being the best.
John Spearry is the general manager of Metro Lexus. Reach him at John_Spearry@metrolexus.com or visit www.metrolexus.com.
It’s not an easy task to become a new associate in Moen’s consumer service department. Every new hire spends 500 hours in intense classroom training to learn about Moen products, processes, warranties, and much more. This dedication to customer service detail is exactly what President David Lingafelter and Moen Inc., strive for.
Moen Inc. is the No. 1 faucet brand in North America, manufacturing kitchen and bath faucets, showerheads, accessories, bath safety products and kitchen sinks for residential and commercial applications. The company puts an increased focus on consumer service training so new hires understand the importance of a satisfied customer and one that continues to come back to Moen products.
Much of those 500 hours of training is delivered in a classroom setting of small groups of 10 or less associates to ensure excellent one-on-one training. Following that initial training each new hire goes on to spend one year in a training/mentoring program focused on understanding who the Moen customer is and how to best serve their needs.
This process is tough and the company realizes that not everyone can be part of the consumer services department. The company hires a third party service to recruit and screen potential applicants. Once hired, new associates work at Moen on a temporary basis for the first six months to ensure a good fit. If the employee does what is expected and more, they are moved to full-time employment.
Providing best-in-class customer service is one of the pillars on which Moen is founded and continues to thrive. Beyond just new hires, Moen encourages all existing employees to visit the consumer services department on an annual basis. Those who do find the experience priceless, as it reinforces the reason why Moen has been established — to create Moen advocates for life.
How to Reach: Moen Inc., (800) 289-6636 or www.moen.com
Within a mile radius of the Marriott Cleveland East, there are at least 10 other lodging establishments where a guest can stay. But those 10 aren’t Marriott hotels.
“We know that if we don’t provide world-class customer service, our guests can choose another lower-priced alternative,” says General Manager Kenny Didier. “By following our mission statement and providing genuine care to our guests, they will keep coming back.”
Marriott’s mission statement is about serving the associates, the customer, and the community. Marriott's fundamental beliefs are enduring and are key to its continued success.
“We make it our mission and goal to give both business and leisure travelers the extra warmth and hospitality that makes staying at the Marriott Cleveland East like being at their home rather than at a hotel,” Didier says.
To facilitate the empowered associate culture at the hotel, a Guest at Risk program has been established to resolve guest inconveniences and problems. A guest at risk is a guest who has been identified as being at risk of having a less than perfect experience. Accordingly, the hotel makes a point to deliver absolute resolution regardless of the severity of the problem. The issue is documented into a computer program called Guestware. The guest receives follow-up calls to make sure there are no further needs.
After six months of this program, the hotel is proud to say it started 2012 consistently ranked in the top 5 percent of all Marriott Hotels when ranked for overall satisfaction by guests.
To deliver world-class customer service, it all starts with hiring the right person with the right attitude. After a careful selection process that includes testing conducted by the Gallup organization, successful candidates are brought on board and mentored by a seasoned trainer. Customer service hires receive additional training to develop their skills, including lecture, role play, multimedia and guest testimonials to instill the Marriott’s world-class culture even more.
How to reach: Marriott Cleveland East, (216) 378-9191 or www.marriott.com