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Front-Line Customer Service: Fifteen Keys to Customer Satisfaction.

Service, quality, and value are today's watchwords. They appeal to nearly every business, industry, and commercial activity. Suppliers who ignore their buyers' and/or customers' wants and preferences do so at considerable risk to themselves and their enterprises.

The list of those currently urging better performance, improved quality, and greater efficiency overwhelms the attentive reader. Their published exhortations by far exceed any one person's capacity to review, capture, and practice their advice. Fortunately, two publications are available and are timely, notable, readable, and memorable. For those physicians merely seeking reminders of the obvious--that suppliers need to produce service, quality, and value--the Boeing Company's resource guide to total quality improvement and Clay Carr's book lay out the essential of customer satisfaction. They are best described as definitive primers and basic texts--both to be read once and then again, and both to be returned to as often as needed.

The Resource Guide provides managers a series of useful building blocks. The first explains the need for quality improvement and present an unqualified and unambiguous definition of quality as used in Boeing's quality improvement process: "Quality is meeting customer and company needs by providing competitively priced products or services determined by the customer to be fit for use. This definition makes customers' needs paramount."

The next step outlines the Boeing Company's quality improvement strategy, with the ultimate focus on quality being made possible by an emphasis on:

* Company/customer participation.

* Continuous improvement of all acquisition, production, and delivery processes.

* Continuous improvement of all products or services.

* Constancy of purpose.

* Customer focus.

The remaining 50 pages over what managers need to know to understand, assimilate, and practice the hows and whats of continuous quality improvement. Overlooking nothing, the monograph ends with a glossary that is reference text quality.

What helps to make the Carr book work are the front-line, on-the-job examples the author uses to highlight 15 keys to business success through customer satisfaction. The key elements almost stand alone, without additional explanation. Here are just a few of his masterful observations:

"You don't sell products or service or even benefits. You sell value--or you don't sell anything at all."

"Customers define value in their own terms. If you want to satisfy them, you have to look at your products or services through their eyes--always!"

"Your front-line people won't treat your customers any better than you treat your front-line people."

"Every organization has customers--every one. The organizations that thrive and prosper and feel good about what they do are those that consistently satisfy their customers."

If you have time for only one chapter of this book, make it Chapter 2, all 22 pages. Entitled "Sell Value," this chapter sets forth an unassailable equation, supported by unambivalent definitions of each factor:

"Value" equals "Benefit" minus "Cost"

By reading and understanding both the Boeing manual on total quality improvement and Carr's treatise on value to the customer, health care providers could move ahead perceptibly in their claims of and pursuit of health care quality.--Stephen Barchet, MD, FACPE, Consultant, Military Health Care, Pacific Medical Center, Issaquah, Wash.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American College of Physician Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Barchet, Stephen
Publication:Physician Executive
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Previous Article:Total Quality Improvement: A Resource Guide to Management Involvement.
Next Article:Basic Occupational Medicine: A Guide to Developing Delivery Systems.

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