From Publishers Weekly
Serving employees well and knowing when to "fire" a customer will boost a firm's bottom line, according to this team of Harvard Business School professors. The authors of The Service Profit Chain here stress the creation of lifetime customers and detail the complex relationship between employee satisfaction, customer retention and profitability. They use examples from firms including Federal Express, Southwest Airlines and Wal-Mart. The highly successful Southwest Airlines, for example, couldn't deliver its much-envied 25-minute aircraft turnaround, from arrival to departure from the gate, without a dedicated, team-oriented staff that's vested in the company. That's why all Southwest employees with more than six months of service hold ownership stakes in the firm. Perhaps more important is how Southwest manages customers that must be "targeted, selected, and `trained' in the unusual ways of the airline-no assigned seats, no meals, no connections with other airlines." By turning high-maintenance customers away, the firm stays profitable. These anecdotes aside, the book is laden with b-school sentences, e.g., "The value concept is achieved with maximum benefit for customers, employees, partners, and investors through an operating strategy that seeks to leverage results over costs by means of such factors as organization, policies, processes, practices, measures, controls, and incentives." With text like this and numerous charts and diagrams, the book will appeal mainly to academics and business professionals. However, there are a few nuggets that will appeal to a broader audience, like the fact that the greeters near the entrance to Wal-Mart stores were originally put there to reduce shoplifting.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
What most topflight leaders know intuitively is now proven through this sequel to The Service Profit Chain (1997)--which is, treating today's employees like customers will produce tomorrow's loyal and committed customers. Calculated through decades of research by eminent Harvard Business School professors, supported by other groundbreaking studies, the authors have now forged a strong link between the performance trinity--leadership and management, culture and values, vision and strategy--and continued success. Many of the usual business-case suspects are profiled, among them Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, and Cisco Systems. So are companies that have transformed themselves, such as Coors and IBM. Every possible touchpoint for organizational improvement is probed, examined, and computed, from Omnicom's customer-relationship model to critical matrices of learning and innovation. Much is stated in jargon; it is only when describing organizational excellence, wherever it exists, that the narrative loses its didactic style and becomes almost lyrical--and comprehensible to the average businessperson. Managers' questions at the end of each chapter reinforce the book's educational thrust. Barbara Jacobs
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