Collection Auto Group has made a name for itself throughout the region by sweating the details when it comes to customer service. Starting with President Bernie Moreno and continuing to every employee in Collection’s organization, there is a universal emphasis on doing the little things right.

Collection’s staff goes the extra mile by picking up and dropping off vehicles that are scheduled for service, saving customers the drive to the dealer. Vehicles are washed before they are returned to the customer, and no interaction ends until every question the customer has is sufficiently answered.

At Collection Auto Group, services are not mere transactions. They are opportunities to educate customers on the needs of their vehicle and the array of services available to them. It’s an approach that builds relationships, as opposed to merely carrying out transactions, which helps to build trust and keep Collection customers loyal to the brand.

All employees at Collection are clear on the importance of the group’s customers. The company’s business strategy has been designed around the customer experience, and trickles down to all areas of the company, which is critical, since every employee at Collection plays a vital role in the customer experience — whether they work in sales, service or management.

Collection’s staff realizes it’s not always in preventing problems for customers — since some problems are going to arise no matter how hard you work to prevent them — but in how you react when a problem does arise. The staff at Collection assures customers that, whatever issue they might have, it is addressed and resolved quickly. While the problem is resolved, Collection takes steps to ensure the customer experiences minimal inconvenience. Ultimately, no matter what happens or what brings a customer to one of Collection’s facilities, the company wants to make sure the customer is taken care of.

How to reach: Collection Auto Group, (440) 716-2700 or

Published in Cleveland

With goal of becoming the most referred company in Cleveland, COIT Cleaning and Restoration Services isn’t shy about asking customers how they feel about its services. Even as the largest specialty cleaning and restoration services in the world, the company still takes time to follow up with every client’s experience, asking, “Were you satisfied? Did you have any issues? Would you use us again?” And lastly, “Will you refer us?”

To be successful, every employee at COIT rallies around the shared goal of PWOM — positive word-of-mouth. To get customers to recommend the company’s services to friends, neighbors and relatives, COIT Cleveland President Harvey Siegel knows that COIT can’t be content with “good job” or “met expectations” when it comes to customer feedback. It needs to create “Wow!” moments that drive word-of-mouth sales to grow the business.

At COIT, creating “wow” moments starts with the attitude of every employee. Beginning in training, employees are taught to view the customer experience from the outside looking in — in other words, looking at service from the customer’s point of view. By helping employees put themselves in the customer’s shoes, COIT has built a customer service team that values the customer experience and the importance of doing the best job the first time around. Although the company strives get it right the first time, if a customer is not 100 percent happy with results, it also offers its COIT 4-R guarantee to reclean, refund, repair and rectify the issue quickly and to their satisfaction. This commitment to PWOM and 100 percent customer satisfaction is further reinforced in the company’s motto — It’s not clean until its COIT clean.

By delivering a level of “unanticipated service” that evokes an overwhelmingly positive response from customers, the company continues to build its reputation, one customer at a time.

How to reach: COIT Cleaning and Restoration Services, (216) 626-0040 or

Published in Cleveland

While critics often point out that computers and the Internet are making people more detached and impersonal, BlueBridge Networks LLC with its total solution concept is very customer-centric on a face-to-face basis.

“We schedule frequent calls and meetings to sit down with clients and explore their impressions on how well we are serving them,” says Kevin Goodman, partner and managing director of business development.

The company offers business continuity, disaster avoidance and recovery services, providing a safe haven for IT systems necessary to keep any company in business.

Client and vendor feedback is used to improve and deliver a better quality of service. Daily staff meetings among other matters discuss any issues that have occurred within the previous 24 hours or over the weekend. Specific action items and tasks are assigned with deadlines for completion. Additional sessions are held to not only address an issue but to look ahead to try to predict changes that may be needed in the infrastructure or to identify class instruction that should offered or certifications that may be needed to obtain optimum performance of service.

The staff at BlueBridge Networks understands how important it is to maintain trust. Service level agreements guarantee a 99.999 percent uptime. To help accomplish that exceptional guarantee, the staff is proactive and honest to the maximum degree. Personal relationships are developed to include deep trust and comfort. There is a strict set of protocols and service levels that have been adopted to ensure sophisticated client objectives.

 “We must do all in our power and means to see to it that we provide an environment and atmosphere of availability, reliability and security,” Goodman says. Customers have come to rely on those principles at BlueBridge Networks for their day-to-day operations and compliance.

In addition, the company with its business partners is actively committed to developing a consortium of IT specialists to offer additional core competencies and added value services.

How to reach: BlueBridge Networks LLC, (216) 621-2583 or

Published in Cleveland

It was an easy decision for Ray Dalton when he founded PartsSource LLC in 2001 to choose legal counsel for his new business. He chose the company that he had worked with dating back to 1990 — Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP.

“I felt it was important to have Benesch involved right from the beginning because they’re not just legal counsel, they’re strategic partners,” Dalton says. “We expect Benesch to bring in whoever is needed to do the job the right way, and they’ve never let us down. If it’s a real estate matter, they bring in real estate experts. If it’s a tax issue, they bring in tax specialists.”

Benesch has made it a top priority to stay in touch with clients throughout the economic recession to help guide them through challenging legal matters. That was the impetus for the firm’s First in Service program that promotes client service as a top priority. The program includes a collection of policies, initiatives and training systems that were implemented around company core values that include everything from honesty, trust, integrity and ethical behavior to meaningful contributions to the communities in which employees live and work.

The features of the First in Service program include a software program that tracks client development activities, a training program for attorneys to strengthen the ability to most fully serve clients and quarterly First in Service Awards. These are presented to individuals at the firm who demonstrated exemplary client service, with a year-end overall client service award.

In addition, Managing Partner Ira Kaplan encourages attorneys and staff members to take responsibility for the welfare, progress and security of the firm. Employees are reminded on a regular basis that every team member is a Benesch representative as all times, and are urged to take only those actions which serve to continue and build the brand.

How to reach: Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, (216) 363-4197 or

Published in Cleveland

Ambiance, the Store for Lovers, aims to promote a better love life, and thus a better relationship, for its customers. However taking steps toward that — namely buying highly intimate, and for some, embarrassing, items — can be difficult for the average consumer.

That is why President Jennifer Downey has built a company culture focused on exceptional service and attention to each customer’s desires and comfort levels. The company trains its “Romance Consultants” over four to six weeks, incorporating an extensive training guide culminating in a 22-page exam. Romance Consultants learn how to get to know customers and foster trust through Ambiance’s proven “Think Like a Customer” program.

But the company isn’t resting on its laurels. It continues to improve upon its training and customer service initiatives. The “Think Like a Customer” program, for example, was recently updated to include the “180-degree turn” approach to greeting customers as they walk into the store. By greeting the customer with a warm “Hello,” then walking by to continue working, employees ensure the customer feels acknowledged and welcomed without feeling hounded or pressed for details about their visit.

To facilitate help while still accommodating those consumers who prefer private time to shop, Ambiance has also implemented its own brand of public service announcements. These in-store messages incorporate product knowledge, inspiration and humor to educate in a lighthearted way, nonintrusive way.

To maintain associates in tip-top customer service shape, Ambiance has revamped how it tests employees’ service skills. The company did away with its decade-long secret shopper program, recognizing that the secret shoppers were too easily identified by staff while they were also unable to critique accurately since they didn’t have real needs to cater to. Instead, Ambiance is in the process of rolling out a new customer-focused assessment system.

How to reach: Ambiance, the Store for Lovers, (440) 234-6996 or

Published in Cleveland

The continuous improvement culture emulated by Julian Cass and his team at AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Inc. North America constantly asks how the company can better tomorrow today for its customers.

Cass, who serves as vice president of the Americas at AkzoNobel, a leading supplier of coatings, inks and adhesives to the packaging industry, makes sure the company is doing right by its customers. The company delivers on its promise of ‘Tomorrow’s Answers Today’ through a culture of values it lives by day-in and day-out.

The first is focusing on the customers’ future. The company only provides products and services that improve the futures of its customers. AkzoNobel makes it very clear that this is the basis for why the company exists.

The second is embracing entrepreneurial thinking. The company thrives on an environment that encourages new ideas for customers. Employees are always challenging standards and bringing great ideas to market as a result, which keep customers coming back for more.

The third aspect of its culture is a focus on developing the talents of its people. AkzoNobel knows that if its people don’t grow, neither will the company and therefore no customers would exist. The company focuses on developing existing talents, nurturing new skills and progress to attract and retain employees of the highest quality to develop the business.

Another key element to customer service is courage and curiosity. The more questions posed, the better a product or service will be. By challenging employees and the products they are creating, AkzoNobel ensures that it is always improving.

Lastly, the company makes sure everyone acts with integrity and responsibility. Employees have to be aware of rules and regulations that they must comply with in whatever part of the world they are in. But it’s more than that. It’s about doing things the right way and doing them right the first time. Ethical and responsible behavior along with these other values, provide the business and its customers with trust.

How to reach: AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Inc. North America, (440) 297-8556 or

Published in Cleveland

Akron-Canton Airport isn’t just popular for its airfare rates, which are the lowest in the region on average. It’s also an innovation leader in the airport industry, continuously adding and improving on features and amenities to promote both the ease and comfort of travelers coming through the facility.

President and CEO Richard B. McQueen leads the airport in creating such efficiencies, ensuring customers reach their destinations as quickly and as stress-free as possible. CAK employs people — not machines — to provide customer service, as well as general and flight information, via the airport, phone or social media outlets. Information desk staff can be reached daily until midnight, while Web-based questions are routed to specific departments and answered on the same day that they are received. Skycaps are also available to lend a helping hand and push wheelchairs — run through CAK’s new wheelchair sanitizer — through the airport.

But efficiency and quality of service isn’t enough at CAK. The airport goes to great lengths to ensure customers are also comfortable during their time within the facility. Professionals can enjoy the quiet, free-of-charge business lounge, complete with comfortable chairs, computers, a printer and a fax machine. Those looking to escape work can enjoy massage chairs in the relaxation stations, available throughout the terminal. And children won’t ask, “Are we there yet?” when they enter the CAK Playport. Free Wi-Fi also enables customers to pass the time, as well as download CAK’s iTunes playlist.

Additionally, CAK recently completed a $5 million project to build a new food court and add a completely new screening area. State-of-the-art screening equipment was installed, as well as additional screening lanes to speed travelers along to their gates. For those looking to pick up passengers, they can simply pull into the free waiting area and wait in their car while monitoring flights on arrival screens.

How to reach: Akron-Canton Airport, (330) 499-4059 or

Published in Cleveland
Thursday, 31 May 2012 20:01

John DiJulius: Getting to Benny

At a workshop, I had an influential partner (let’s call him Larry) ask if he could share a story with the group. His story was about how one of his largest, long-term clients had recently changed its CEO. Any time an organization changes a CEO, all vendors are in danger of being replaced. So Larry went on to share that he knew he had to quickly demonstrate to the new CEO (let’s call him Greg) how valuable and how brilliant his company was, before it was decided to start shopping its services.

Larry admitted it was a struggle; every meeting that the new CEO attended was short and very transactional. Every time Larry and his associates tried to make small talk, share advice or demonstrate their expertise, Greg, who is known by his close friends as “Benny,” was not interested in engaging in anything more than the facts. Larry knew that once the company’s current contract was up, it was going to lose this large, long-term client.

That is when Larry started thinking about all the training, systems and tools he and his team had been going through. He admitted while he didn’t put much stock into it, he decided he had nothing to lose. He realized that there was very little customer intelligence he had learned in the few meetings. He remembered about F.O.R.D. (family, occupation, recreation and dreams) from the training and started doing some research online. Through that, he discovered that Greg was an avid triathlete and was a big supporter of multiple sclerosis causes.

At the end of their next meeting, Larry briefly mentioned that he was aware that Greg competed in triathlons and how it was a goal to compete in one. Larry said Greg’s eyes lit up. He started showing him pictures of different events and telling stories. He told Larry that if he could do it anyone could. Over the next few weeks, Greg was sending Larry advice, books and articles on how to train. Larry also found out that Greg has a daughter who is challenged with multiple sclerosis and that is why he is such a big supporter of MS causes.

Several months later, Larry was competing in his first triathlon with new buddy, Greg. Additionally, he has since become a supporter of the annual event that Greg holds every year for MS. Larry went on to tell the group how Greg’s company renewed its annual contract with Larry’s firm, but best of all, every note or e-mail he gets from Greg is signed “Benny."

Published in Cleveland
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