Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

Cleanup position

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 making and keeping time commitments to customers and alert the customer as soon as possible in the unlikely event of a delay.

Training lasts from five days to as lengthy as eight weeks. New employees ride along with drivers and technicians to learn how services are conducted. Then to reinforce what they have learned, employees receive ongoing training at daily Morning Huddles, monthly webinars and monthly growth meetings.

A primary goal is to receive positive word-of-mouth ? achieving such high ratings from customers that they will recommend Coit to friends, neighbors and relatives. A recently formed change committee reviews ideas submitted to the suggestion box and then submits them to management for further review. The committee is guided by the motto, “One man’s problem is another man’s solution.” To this end, management works with employees to create a positive environment and to continue to improve their work experience.

An annual anonymous survey allows employees to give feedback about how they feel about working for Coit.

Then, additionally, the “4-R Guarantee” sets customers’ minds at ease. It states that if a customer is not completely satisfied, Coit will reclean the area or item, refund the money if still unsatisfied, repair any damage and rectify the situation through a credit for the item’s current cash value.

How to reach: Coit Cleaning & Restoration Services, (216) 626-0040 or www.coit.com

Published in Akron/Canton

More than 6.5 million people nationwide get their benefits programs through Hyatt Legal Plans, and that’s not by accident. From the company’s inception, Hyatt Legal Plans has built the business by focusing on quality service. In fact, “Quality Service Always” is the mission statement of the company’s client service center.

It’s not the mission statement that CEO William Brooks is proud of. It’s the way his employees constantly follow through and even go above and beyond that mission statement. The service provided by Hyatt Legal Plans starts from the first phone call to their call center. Employees at Hyatt strive to provide service that ensures callers of their coverage plan, explains how their plan can benefit them and sets their minds at ease about the plan they are initiating.

To do those things, Hyatt Legal Plans hires only the best people to answer the phones. Only friendly, caring, compassionate people answer calls because they feel the call center is the showcase of the organization and the difference between them and the competition.

The biggest difference between Hyatt and the competition is that clients will always reach a client service representative when calling, typically within three seconds. Hyatt staffs for peak volumes of calls and ensures a live person will answer.

To further distinguish themselves in a highly competitive market, they focus not only on hiring the best people but providing an environment that encourages employees to stay. Hyatt has a program called Bravo awards. The program rewards customer service skills for client service representatives on a monthly and annual basis.

Employees earn Bravo cards for providing great service and for meeting monthly performance goals. Each month the people with Bravo cards and the top performers are rewarded with special prizes.

Hyatt views this program as an integral part of its strategy of focusing on quality issues and exceptional customer service.

HOW TO REACH: Hyatt Legal Plans, (216) 241-0022 or www.legalplans.com

Published in Cleveland
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

World-Class attitudes

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 climate that we find ourselves in in Northeast Ohio. What gives with these people? Are they just not paying attention? Or could it be that they are paying attention to the important things: their people, processes and product?

One of our guiding principles is, “We make our own weather at Metro Lexus.” Putting aside the meteorological impossibilities of this claim, it goes to the heart of what we believe: We control our own attitudes. Just like the tie/dress you put on this morning, every morning we choose what our attitude is going to look or feel like. Why choose an ugly tie or a crummy attitude?

A few days ago, I arrived 12 minutes early at John Roberts Spa for a much needed haircut. Being both cold and wet when I entered the establishment, I was quickly warmed by the enthusiastic greeting of “Hi Mr. Pyle, welcome back to John Roberts.” This greeting did not dry me off any quicker or make my haircut look any better. It did, however, make we want to return. Clearly, the associates of John Roberts control their own weather. Do your people control theirs?

In corporate America, we have a surplus of “officers.” We have CEOs, CIOs, COOs, etc. Who is your chief attitude officer? Do you need one? From what I saw of the 33 presenters in early April, they all understood who the CAO was. So did the receptionist at John Roberts. If we are all trained and motivated to be the CAOs of our respective companies and expect our co-workers to be the same, why would we need another officer looking over our shoulders? Fortunately, I am privileged to work with people who are better at choosing attitudes than they are at picking out ties. I would bet that all of the WCCS nominees are delighted to have the same problem that I do.

Dan Pyle is the managing partner of Metro Lexus, title sponsor of the World Class Customer Service Awards. Reach him at dan_pyle@metrolexus.com or at Metro Lexus, (216) 916-6000 or www.metrolexus.com.

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:36

Down to business

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 little easier for customers. Staff will look up previous orders for clients in a hurry — clients that generally know what they want but might need some assistance to find the right product.

In addition, the customer service team at Today’s Business Products can provide same-day delivery for clients who need to manage an unexpected situation. Company employees have even shopped at a competitor’s store to meet a same-day deadline.

The company’s delivery drivers also make customer service a priority. With all new accounts, drivers will meet with the clients to discuss delivery instructions, which helps maximize convenience for the client. After a delivery, drivers provide any necessary cleaning of the installation area before they consider a job completed.

Today’s Business Products has also made use of technology to make the purchasing and delivery process easier and more efficient. Many of the clients now use a small bar code scanner provided to them by the company, which enables the client to order from a customized catalog, the general catalog, bar codes on products or bar codes specially prepared for their storage or work room areas.

The company’s quoting, ordering warehouse and delivery systems all run on the same software, allowing for consistent communication between departments and a smooth service experience for clients.

How to reach: Today’s Business Products, (216) 267-5000 or www.todaysbusinessproducts.com

Published in Akron/Canton

While “going the extra mile” is a phrase often used to describe top customer service, to Great Lakes Integrated, it means all that ? and adding an extra full-time employee to make sure the job gets done right.

A major customer in Texas was looking to consolidate its print, fulfillment and distribution facilities. Great Lakes Integrated showed how it could bring potential savings. The company was concerned about the distance between the two firms, however.

To overcome the challenge, Great Lakes Integrated hired an employee to work on site to coordinate the work flow between the home and remote offices. The result was an impeccable experience that exceeded all expectations and the confidence that this type of partnership could handle the job demands with seamless, consistent effort from start to finish.

Jim Schultz, chairman and CEO, knows that such customer service does not happen by luck. Rather, it is learned through daily interactions among peers and through an example set by management. It starts with a thorough screening of job applicants, including behavioral interviews. All through the process, efforts are made to find potential employees whose beliefs complement the customer service philosophy.

The company has developed a number of systems to help build and provide world-class services ? from standard operating procedures on client interaction to quality delivery standards for products. For large-scale commercial print runs, customers are encouraged to monitor quality at the printing press in an executive suite complete with WiFi and TV.

Now in its 80th year, Great Lakes Integrated was built on the belief that excellent craftsmanship coupled with exceptional customer service would create a company heads above others in the communications industry. Many staff members have been with the company for 10 or more years, which translates to higher levels of service and a profound understanding of customer needs.

How to reach: Great Lakes Integrated, (216) 651-1500 or www.gll.com

Published in Cleveland
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:34

Solution driven

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 to make decisions based on what will benefit the client. Decisions are based on courtesy, responsiveness, accuracy, being proactive and efficiency.

The service standards have aided Staffing Solutions Enterprises in creating a business model that helps client companies better manage utilization of assignment employees. The company’s business model allows clients to save significantly because each assignment employee achieves a higher level of productivity, requiring fewer employees to work on each assignment.

In 2010, the company underwent a technology upgrade, improving its applicant tracking system and offering the system to clients at an affordable price. The technology saves clients time and money by helping them better manage the high volume of resumes received during the recruitment process.

Staffing Solutions Enterprises has also recognized the need to create an avenue for women in the human resources field to network with each other. Five years ago, the company helped establish the HR Executive Women’s Network, and continues to lead and grow the network, enabling female business leaders to meet and network with each other. Four times per year, the company holds informal meetings to serve as a networking opportunity. The meetings have served as a steppingstone for building business relationships.

How to reach: Staffing Solutions Enterprises, (440) 461-1652 or www.staffsol.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

Stepping up

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 found.

That’s when Shopnick swung into action. Parker’s college recruiting manager, Mike Klein, picks up the rest of the story.

“In spite of the terrible winter storm, Keith offered the use of his personal vehicle, and he also contacted a personal friend living near the hotel that owned a large SUV,” Klein wrote in a letter to the hotel. “Between Keith’s vehicles, his friend’s SUV and the two Parker chaperone vehicles, they were able to quickly transport all of our candidates to Parker’s corporate headquarters and prevent any major delays with our recruiting event.”

It’s extra effort like that which keeps clients coming to Cleveland Marriott East over and over again. Shopnick recognizes that people have other viable options for their hotel needs when they come to the Cleveland area. But when service is provided that is above and beyond what’s expected, such as with Parker’s recruiting event, it’s a lure to think of Cleveland Marriott East first the next time they need those services. 

“Their service is what brings me back to the Cleveland Marriott East,” writes Klein in his letter. “I know I can depend on the hotel team for superior service and be confident my events will run smoothly.”

How to reach: Cleveland Marriott East, (216) 378-9191 or www.marriott.com

Published in Akron/Canton

People can golf and dine anywhere, but as Mark Gore puts it, they join a private club for the experience of incredibly personalized service, which makes cost insignificant.

As general manager of Firestone Country Club, Gore has seen firsthand the impact of excellent customer service. While many clubs around the country struggled in the difficult economic climate during the past few years, the fact that Firestone has prospered is a testament to the service it provides its members.

All of the club’s employees have a servant’s heart, and their goal is to make every person — member or guest — feel welcome and comfortable by creating a home-away-from-home experience. The club’s goal is to build relationships and enrich lives, which it does through three steps of service: warm welcomes, magic moments and fond farewells.

This starts with welcoming members and guests by name. E-mails are sent to the staff each day so they know who will be arriving and who has birthdays that day. Staff is expected to greet people by name and to make every attempt to be the first to say, “Hello,” “How are you?” or “How can we help?” Firestone keeps a MemberPride database that has information about every guest, including name, title, educational background, birthday, anniversary, interests, etc. The club also has a picture profile book for each department where every member is listed with his or her picture so staff can learn to recognize people.

Magic moments are random acts of kindness in which staff members look for ways to make someone’s day. It may mean leaving a note or something special for that person with his or her golf clubs or at another location within the club. And then the fond farewells start with always saying thank you and we appreciate you. It also means extending an invitation for guests to return.

This approach makes members and guests alike feel like VIPs every time they arrive.

How to reach: Firestone Country Club, (330) 644-8441 or www.firestonecountryclub.com

Published in Cleveland
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 20:01

For the long term

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 for educational, governmental, commercial and industrial clients.

CEO Louis Joseph and associates show pride in the number of multiple projects completed for many long-term customers. The clients value proven performance. Three public-sector clients have won the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Energy Efficiency, another example of Brewer-Garrett’s customer service competitive advantage.

Most new employees are hired through professional recruiters, who have been educated about the company culture. After the first interview, candidates are tested for intellectual aptitude and customer service orientation. The final interview is with the CEO. Once hired, the employee receives core orientation and training and “The Art of Service” training.

Since Brewer-Garrett often touches many different people in an organization, the company’s objective is to ensure that everyone is satisfied with the work done. The goal is to have customers want to work with the company, rather than having to work with the company just because they have a contract or their boss directed them to do so.

Feedback from Customer Assurance Review and Evaluation, or CARE, surveys is key to the organization as not only a measure of satisfaction and to address immediate needs but as a way to prepare for the needs and challenges clients will experience in the future.

How to reach: The Brewer-Garrett Co., (440) 243-3535 or www.brewer-garrett.com

Published in Akron/Canton

At Findaway World, customer service starts with the notion that employees aren’t called employees or associates or team members. They are findawayers. Not surprisingly, “Find a way” is one of the seven core values of the company that manufactures and distributes the Playaway, a self-playing prerecorded audiobook.

Findaway’s CEO Mitch Kroll and his team have a multilayer recruiting process to ensure that when they bring in new employees, they fit the company’s DNA. Each new findawayer learns how to prepare the product for customers and is taught the importance of making things as close to perfect as can be obtained. Then, findawayers are given expectations on how the company would like to treat customers both internally and externally.

As a result, every customer is treated in the best way possible. Each is a VIP customer, and there is no difference how a quantity shopper is treated from someone who buys only a few units. Customer experience specialists take the lead on being the friendly voice customers talk to if they ever experience difficulties. Flexible ordering, a simple return policy and billing solutions are offered, as is help on title recommendations from librarians on staff.

Thanks to an emphasis on empowerment and engagement, findawayers are entrusted to make decisions on behalf of the company

While in many companies customer service is a separate department, at Findaway World customer service is an idea and responsibility that permeates every aspect of the company. In each transaction, Findaway’s reputation is at stake and success is based on the ability to sell each customer exactly the product they requested and within the fastest time possible.

Even better things are ahead for this year with the creation of a new quality team and the hiring of the first quality assurance manger to ensure Findaway exceeds customer expectations.

How to reach: Findaway World, (877) 893-0808 or www.playaway.com

Published in Cleveland