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Super Service

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I am reviewing the book Super Service, by Jeff and Valerie Gee. I was initially attracted to this book due to the subtitle, "Seven keys to delivering great customer service... Even when you don't feel like it! ... Even when they don't deserve it!" The book promises to bring a new upbeat approach to serving customers on the front line and to make this job more meaningful to those who do.

Upon first glance, the book looks overly simplified. I discovered, however, that it is well written, and makes its points clearly without unnecessarily delving into complicated theories. This book encourages readers to see customer service from a different perspective: you are not performing solely for the customer or the company, but for your own sense of satisfaction. In this way, it functions as a motivational tool for those of us in the business of working directly with customers. The authors offer seven critical ideas for providing outstanding customer service. Each one builds upon the premise of the previous one, making these lessons sensible and natural to put into practice. The book illustrates each key with case scenarios, checklists, cartoons, and exercises. The result is the creation of an interactive learning experience. Super Service is written in an easy-to-read, conversational style. The authors neither talk down to the reader nor take on the boring tone of an employee manual.

The most striking difference I discovered is the straightforward techniques the authors reveal to help you put their concepts into practice. For example, anyone can tell you that the secret to serving customers well is to: "Have the right attitude," "Listen with an open mind," or "Seek a win-win situation." This book teaches you easy ways to do those very things. How are you supposed to have a good attitude about serving customers? You won't change your attitude simply because someone tells you that you should. Super Service gives you reasons why you should be happy to serve your customers. Similar to information you might get from other sources, the authors of this book stress what it costs you every time you lose a customer and how difficult it is to get those customers back. However, these authors take the next step by motivating you to enjoy serving your customers. They teach you that serving is about being "... a giver instead of a taker. If you think about it, we all serve other people. Even the most influential people in the world have to serve someone..."1 Which brings home the point that we all serve somebody and we all get tired of it. However, it's how we serve most of the time that makes for a happy or unhappy life. The Ritz-Carlton drives this point home with their corporate motto, "We are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen."2 This is the key to enjoying your job rather than being miserable. If you have to serve the customers anyway, you may as well be good at it. By being good at it, you will likely enjoy it more.

The book sets out to teach us such valuable lessons as these by dividing customer service into seven steps:

1. The Right Attitude

2. Understand the Customer's Needs

3. Communicate Clearly

4. Reach Agreement

5. Check Understanding

6. Take Action

7. Build on Satisfaction

This basically details the components of any customer interaction chronologically. Upon mastering each step, it is only natural to move on to the next. The book closes with several topics in "Advanced Customer Service Skills." It covers such areas as: How to handle an unhappy customer, Selling skills, Telephone skills, and How to avoid stress and burnout.

The first "key" to delivering super service is having the right attitude. The authors contend that having a good attitude and the right frame of mind is not inherent in one's personality, but can be learned. Rather than listening to your own internal dialogue when interacting with a customer, or wishing they would hurry up so you can get back to more important things, the authors suggest that you stop thinking about you next task or project deadline and focus your thoughts solely on the person you are talking with. "If we're in the business of customers, if we work with people, if people are in our life, we need to take time to listen - with a positive attitude. We need to empty ourselves of our own immediate concerns and focus our complete attention on serving the customer."1

Key number two involves understanding the customer's needs. To do this, one needs to be prepared for the customer interaction and be able to listen with an open mind. They suggest keeping a file for customers that would hold information to help remember them and their past problems or concerns. This would be an especially good idea to incorporate in your pharmacy. Personally, I have trouble remembering details about previous customer interactions. I will often remember a patient's face, but not what we last talked about. Keeping a file would help you to manage their drug therapy.

Key three involves communicating clearly with the customer. The book advises that you be clear; use simple words without and "jargon" (especially important in dealing with pharmacy patients), stick to the point by focusing on the problem, and be honest (it's dangerous to over-promise and under-perform). The authors also recommend explaining bad news in the most positive terms possible. They use the example,

"This raincoat keeps the water out, but it's short."

This raincoat keeps the water out, and it's short."1

The second option eliminates the negative connotation to the statement and may not be as offensive to the customer.

The fourth key, Reach Agreement, to seek win-win situations and build on the customer's proposal. This key suggests that you seek harmony and balance with your customers. "Reaching agreement is not a battle of power."1 By rejecting the urge to compete with the customer, the conflict stops and you are better able to listen empathetically to the customer's needs and wants. In this way you will be able to come to an agreement that better suits both parties' needs and thus strengthens the relationship.

Key five, Check Understanding, deals with making sure the customer understands the nature of the service they will be receiving. The book advocates managing



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