This Month’s Book Review By the inspiring Martina McGowan, is brought to you by the wonderful Weaving Influence
Chip R. Bell’s book, “The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service,” may look deceptively like a children’s picture book when you first pick it up, but it is a very well-written, meaty book of case studies and instruction about customer service and the importance of providing great customer service as a building block of good, successful business.
Trying to run a business, large or small, in the real world, faced with tough economic times, and tough customers, Chip moves us quickly from the standard line of thought of using potentially expensive, and usually ineffective mind-set of value-added to value-unique customer service. What’s the difference? “Value-unique… is about a unique and unexpected creation.” Here he uses a quote from J.C. Penney to help drive the point home.
“It is the service we are not obliged to give that people value most.”
Take what your customers expect, and add a little more. The more is the personality of your business. Add a little more of what makes sense in your business or industry. It may be something as simple as changing the way you greet clients- using their name, ma’am or sir, remembering something about them or their family, smiling. Something to make them feel valued. It can also be something less serious; something “silly, funny, whimsical. This Bell refers to as the “Cracker Jack” principle.
Some of the other principles used in the book are:” The Fly-Fishing Principle,” “The Easy Button Principle,” “The Purpling Principle.”
He walks us through each of his 9 1/2 principles with a combination of stories, quotes and vignettes. Some of these are drawn from personal experience, some are about small companies that make a big impact, and many of them are drawn from companies with very familiar names, all of whom are known for their outstanding service. Companies like Zappos, Hotel Monaco, Disney, Cirque de Soleil, to name a few.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is by Daniel Adams. “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” Because, going back to my first paragraph, our goal is not to cut into already marginalized profits, but to make the customer feel as if they have been served appropriately and well, and treated as if they are important. Treated as if they matter.
Many businesses forget this concept in the day-to-day. But, the customers do matter, because they are what fuels your business. No happy customers, no business. It is a pretty simple concept.
Bell’s book is not solely about theory about what should work. He offers concrete suggestions on how to apply each of the 9.5 principles to our own lives and our own unique business situations.
Chip’s book is an “easy” and quick read, filled with wisdom and practical insights into things that we can all do to improve our customer relations and our colleague experiences. It is a quick read the first time though, but there are pearls that you will come back to again and again. And insights that you will want to share with your colleagues, managers and leadership.
One of the best pieces of advice that is offered by Chip Bell in this book is at the beginning. After you have read the book, and begun to implement a few of these ideas, do not relegate this book to your shelf to collect dust. Leave it where someone else will be inspired by it. Leave it where someone will pick it up and be enlightened. The chapters are short, and the lessons are powerful.
This short tome is well worth the investment of your reading time. It is filled with wisdom, skills and tips to help you raise the bar of your customer service to new heights and delights without severely damaging your bottom line.
About the Author:
A renowned, highly sought-after keynote speaker, Chip is the author of 20 books, including Wired and Dangerous (co-authored with John Patterson), Take Their Breath Away (also with John Patterson) and Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service (with Ron Zemke). He is founder and senior partner with the Chip Bell Group and serves as a consultant, trainer and speaker to many of the most innovative brands in the world, many of them Fortune 500 companies. Chip was a highly decorated infantry unit commander in Vietnam with the elite 82nd Airborne. He has appeared live on CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, NPR and ABC. His work has been featured in Fortune, Business Week, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and Fast Company.