You don’t earn a place among the nation’s largest real estate closing law firms by innovation and originality only. You have to accompany those qualities with superior customer service ? by following the basics.
That’s the philosophy of Morris|Hardwick|Schneider residential real estate law firm. Managing Partner Nat Hardwick meets with each employee annually to communicate those basics as well as a hidden system strategy and expectations of the position.
Ranging from treating everyone with courtesy and respect to returning all phone calls within two hours to going the “extra mile” to close transactions, the 14-point road map of basics also forms a large part of the firm’s core values.
The firm’s hidden strategy is designed to engage and motivate employees to understand how customer satisfaction and retention are key goals to success. Among the six points in the hidden system strategy are be a person of action, be persistent, be compassionate and be a team player.
While actively participating in area law school recruitment and job fairs, the firm also relies on its reputation of being professional, courteous and having servant leadership to draw new talent. New employees are trained through a 12-month mentoring program with a partner. Those who have completed the mentoring program are encouraged to mentor with a managing partner. New workers are also offered continuous training through WebEx, teleconference or one-on-one training in their office.
The top service team member is designated to serve as director of employee engagement, whose role is to foster a mindset of continuous improvement and culture in regard to customer service and the firm’s brand.
In addition to its internal focus on customer service and leadership, the firm established the LandCastle Foundation as a way to give back to local communities. Employees volunteer their time, talents and financial resources to the foundation’s charitable efforts.
How to reach: Morris|Hardwick|Schneider, (678) 298-2100 or www.closingsource.net
At InfoMart, customers do not get the one-size-fits-all treatment for their background screenings that larger competitors may provide ? they get personalized service to make sure all their needs are addressed.
Customers know that price is not the most important factor in choosing a pre-employment screening provider. They can be confident that they get the highest degree of experience along with the best service, technology and price from one company.
President and Chair Tammy Cohen knows that in the challenging business world it may be difficult to land new customers, but it is far easier to keep existing ones by being responsive to their needs.
Several systems are in place to help provide world-class customer service. Phone lines are open extended weekday hours, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are multiple connection methods, such as phone, e-mail, fax or online chat. Online ordering is easy, with flexible information request and delivery options. Applicant profiles are customized to fit clients’ needs. Clients receive free training on services and systems for the duration of their account. The company stands behind its services with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
To achieve a philosophy of “Do it right the first time,” the company seeks thoughtful, entrepreneurial employees who strive for excellence in all that they do. InfoMart’s best customer service representatives are cultivated from within its processing departments. Employees that have first-hand experience and knowledge conducting background checks fit in well; if it is necessary to hire from the outside, candidates are chosen based on their excellent customer service skills and knowledge of the industry.
All of InfoMart’s departments are staffed with professionals that have specifically relevant experience. This ranges from human resources and criminal justice to drug screening and loss prevention, and it helps guarantee that clients get the proper attention, expertise and service that experience brings.
How to reach: InfoMart, (770) 984-2727 or www.infomart-usa.com
When plans were being made for “The Phantom of the Opera” grand opening at The Venetian in Las Vegas, an exclusive piece of merchandise was needed to celebrate the event and promote the brand. The Icebox, which had a previous relationship with Alternative Apparel, a leading lifestyle apparel brand, was called upon to deliver the goods.
A challenge arose when the artist designed a T-shirt with an all-over print that wrapped around the sleeves and shoulders. A solution was reached to print on cut pieces of fabric which were then shipped to a special printer and reassembled. A worldwide committee approved the process. A final touch was a coating of crystalline, which further complicated the sewing process. The result was a beautiful garment unparalleled by traditional screen printers.
That’s an example of the customer service offered by The Icebox under the leadership of CEO Jordy Gamson ? and a validation that companies can trust the quality of the products The Icebox provides.
But a company doesn’t have to have a Las Vegas presence to do business with The Icebox. Each customer relationship is valued and receives a “cool” experience regardless of size. Every customer receives a completely consultative experience to matching products based on actual needs.
It’s also not just enough to deliver “cool stuff.” If The Icebox delivers “cool” products but a bad experience, it’s considered a failure. Likewise, if a “cool” experience was delivered but with bad products, it’s a flop, as well.
All account representatives are empowered to discuss possible resolutions when something goes wrong, and they offer customers the option of having it fixed/replaced or an alternation solution.
Over the company’s 10 years it has had an excellent employee retention ratio and often attracts new candidates through clients and a reputation for being a “cool” place.
How to reach: The Icebox, (404) 522-2665 or www.iceboxonline.com
In August, I accepted a new position at Comcast serving as the vice president of customer service in Atlanta. I’ve worked for the company for 29 years, and I am very proud of the exciting products and unparalleled choices our customers have in Atlanta with our state-of-the-art video, high-speed Internet, phone and online services. We push the boundaries of innovation and creativity because we want to exceed our customers’ expectations.
One thing that has always been consistent through my years with Comcast is that our customers demand value and extraordinary customer service. This is even more important in today’s economy.
As a result, customer satisfaction has become part of every Comcast employee’s job. Every day more than 50,000 employees at Comcast work to deliver fast, reliable and respectful service to our 24 million customers.
Our customers have high expectations of us, and that’s why we have even higher expectations of ourselves. We believe that we positively influence customer satisfaction by staying focused on providing a superior experience to all of our customers.
We are working every day to improve our customers’ experiences with Comcast. Sometimes, things go wrong, but our customers know that we will work to resolve the issue as quickly and as professionally as possible through the “Comcast Guarantee.”
Our guarantee lets our customers know what they can and should expect from us. It validates that we have put the policies and procedures in place and empowered our employees to make our customers our No. 1 priority.
We make the following guarantees:
- We will give you a 30-day, money-back guarantee on our video, voice or high-speed services.
- We will always be on time within your appointment window or we’ll credit you $20 or give you a free premium channel for three months.
- We will resolve routine issues in one visit or we’ll credit you $20 or give you a free premium channel for three months.
- We will treat you and your home with courtesy and respect.
- We’re here for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions at your convenience.
- We will offer easy-to-understand packages and provide you with a clear bill.
- We will continually offer the best and most video choices.
Every Comcast employee is dedicated to meeting the commitments above and to exceeding expectations. We are working very hard to serve our customers better and listen carefully to feedback, and I am confident that we will continue to me
et their needs. Congratulations to the 2011 World Class Customer Service Award honorees.
Verba Brown is vice president of customer service for Comcast Atlanta. Reach her at email@example.com.
Are you comfortable with owning a problem that you played no part in creating? If your answer is no, you’d have a tough time fitting in at TLC Laser Eye Centers — Atlanta.
The idea is that if a customer is incurring a problem with the company, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is that the problem exists. It only matters that someone owns the problems and does everything they can to solve it so that the customer can get what they need.
This no-blame culture is part of the overall philosophy of customer satisfaction that guides the entire company, including Andrea York’s leadership of the Atlanta center.
Employees are taught that you don’t wait for guests to greet you, you greet them. You don’t point, you show. You don’t talk to other people or answer your phone when you’re helping a customer, you give all your attention to that customer. And you don’t make excuses about what you can’t do or how you can’t help customers. You work hard to find a way to get that customer what they need.
New employees at TLC will find an entire manual full of clear standards about how they are expected to conduct themselves in the company.
The consistent drive to service customers has helped TLC earn raves from those customers to the tune of a 96 percent referral rate to new potential patients to try the company.
But it’s not just the people who make a great impression on patients. The center in Atlanta comes complete with a relaxation lounge for patients and friends and family of patients, free Wi-Fi connections and a front desk with access to local restaurant menus for those who aren’t familiar with the area.
It’s a package of service that has opened many eyes in the Atlanta region.
How to reach: TLC Laser Eye Centers — Atlanta, (678) 392-4214 or www.lasik.com
Larry and his family experienced car problems during their long trip home for Christmas. They pulled into a Petro Stopping Center, and though Petro doesn’t offer repair services for cars, an employee identified the broken part and called to have a replacement delivered.
The family soon returned from a nearby restaurant to find the part not only delivered but already installed by the Petro employee. Charged only for the belt, Petro staff wished Larry a merry Christmas and told him to continue on home.
“Wow, we were shocked to know that there are still great people that will go out of their way to help someone in need,” Larry wrote in a letter of thanks to the company.
Recognizing that TA Operating LLC does not offer unique products or services, CEO Tom O’Brien aims to sell excellent customer service as its differentiating commodity.
The company, which operates TravelCenters of America as well as Petro Stopping Center, has created employee development and incentive programs to facilitate ongoing customer experience training and implementation.
Two specific programs that the company invested considerable time and resources in and that encourage world-class customer service are the “Q-Force” and “Daymaker” programs. The “Q-Force” program was implemented among truck services with a superhero theme based around the mascot Captain Q-Force. The program emphasizes the importance of rescuing customers in trouble, often truckers who have broken down, and turning their bad experience into a good customer experience. The “Daymaker” program was createdfor employees among the company’s restaurants. Employees who make a customer’s day through excellent service are nominated each month and their stories evaluated. A winner is chosen and recognized at a semi-annual national conference.
TA Operating LLC employees are encouraged to go above and beyond to assist customers, differentiating the company through excellent service.
How to reach: TA Operating LLC, (330) 769-4881 or www.tatravelcenters.com
Wanda had been experiencing problems with her home’s plumbing for more than a decade. She had numerous pipe leaks and water heater issues, and she even had her entire plumbing redone in an attempt to fix her water woes. But it wasn’t until hiring Sundial Plumbing Services that her home’s plumbing problems were truly resolved.
“Mitzi, it took your team of techs less than 48 hours (to) solve a problem I’ve been dealing with for 15 years,” Wanda wrote in a letter of gratitude to President Mitzi Smith Moore.
Moore’s company is devoted to providing customer responsiveness, value and quality services and products. Sundial’s quality performance and high level of customer satisfaction have attracted a loyal following. In fact, repeat customer referrals make up a majority of Sundial Plumbing’s client source list.
The company caters to the needs of its customers in many ways. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Sundial Plumbing makes its highly trained staff available to customers as needed. Work scope and pricing is submitted in writing for customer approval prior to the start of a project, and an intensive, task-specific checklist is completed by an installing technician on site upon completion. The service manager then reviews these checklists, and a separate field quality assurance inspector visits the jobsite for a quality review. Findings are reported to managers for monitoring of industrywide best practices and results are incorporated as needed into the company’s training curriculum.
To further empower customers and provide world-class service, Sundial Plumbing ensures all service calls are followed up upon and results documented and reviewed. Employees are rewarded for positive feedback, while negative feedback is flagged to be resolved within an hour.
Through high quality of service, Sundial Plumbing provides its customers with plumbing solutions and peace of mind.
How to reach: Sundial Plumbing Services, (770) 427-1998 or www.mywebplumber.com
Customer solutions at Staffmark are a lot like snowflakes: You’re not very likely to see any two solutions that look alike. That’s because programs are built around individual customer needs and developed specifically to deal with whatever that customer is looking for.
As a big player in the staffing industry, that individualized touch is something that has helped Staffmark stand out from its competition under the leadership of President and CEO Lesa Francis.
Surveys are conducted on a regular basis to assess how current programs are faring and identify potential areas where improvements can be made. The results are broken down on many levels to ensure that trends can be spotted and either encouraged or changed to help Staffmark stay ahead.
Communication is underscored at every level. Whether it’s an on-site manager visiting a customer location or through the employee evaluation process, dialogue is maintained so that everyone is up to speed with what is going on in the company.
The company also takes a longer view. Staffmark conducted an internal project that reviewed the habits of employees within its most successful branches with the highest customer retention. From that study, the Passionate Performers Profile was created. It is defined as “exceptional ideas only become reality through the actions of those individuals passionate about bringing them to life.”
The idea is to build great employees in the organization who can share their energy and enthusiasm with others and make the company that much better at what it does. It also serves as a way to reward employees who meet the ideas of this profile and live those values in the way they conduct themselves at work. That fits right in with the idea of “exceptional people and exemplary results” that the company and its employees live by.
How to reach: Staffmark, (770) 955-0112 or www.staffmark.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.
World Class Customer Service Class of 2011
Cox Communications Cleveland
Family Heritage Life Insurance
SS&G Financial Services
Today's Business Products
The 2011 World Class Customer Service Awards are presented by Metro Lexus and sponsored by Smart Business, John Robert’s Spa, Grant Thornton, Cleveland Clinic, US Bank, SummaCare, Blue Technologies, Executive Caterers at Landerhaven and Hughie’s Audio-Visual & Computer Services.
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 competitive advantage and price less relevant?
Cleveland Clinic’s management is based upon the responsible use of resources for the improvement of patient care. This means that medical waste is minimized and operational efficiency is rewarded. Clinic physicians work together in multidisciplinary teams to assure that every patient receives a correct diagnosis and the most effective treatment. The key is to provide seamless, coordinated care.
The embodiment of Patients First is an essential component of Cleveland Clinic’s customer service and competitive edge. The clinic competes on the basis of how well it diagnoses and treats patients, prevents disease, reduces mortality and provides state-of-the-art practices — all areas that can vary significantly among hospitals and physicians and where competition can drive efficiency and innovation.
How do you go above and beyond?
With a shared institutional focus on our patients, we strive to become better every day. By setting standards, collecting data, analyzing results and listening to our patients, Cleveland Clinic continually strives to innovate and improve the delivery of patient-centered medical care. We train our employees to be service-oriented and to help patients, families, organizations and individuals throughout the community.
Cleveland Clinic offers employees continual training, education and mentorship programs to develop and build essential skills. Changes and enhanced services are coordinated around patients’ survey feedback. Best practices are identified and adopted systemwide for the benefit of patients.
Cleveland Clinic is also committed to contributing to the health, wellness and revitalization of the communities in which we live and work. From offering free smoking-cessation programs and free limited-time gym memberships to all Cuyahoga County residents to spearheading the resurrection of Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood to attract new businesses, homeowners and visitors to the area, the clinic is an organization providing a multifaceted approach to health care within our community.