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Customer Service For Dummies

How much do customers value good service? Enough to shell out more money-as much as 10 percent-for the same merchandise but better treatment, according to authors Karen Leland and Keith Bailey in Customer Service for Dummies (IDG Books, $19.99 paper).

Of course, you probably don't need much convincing to accept the notion that first-rate customer service is a prerequisite for any company's success. But, as the authors so astutely point out, there's a world of difference between good intentions and good follow-through.

To measure how well your business walks the walk, so to speak, Leland and Bailey provide a service questionnaire you can use. Once you assess your company's weaknesses, you'll have a better idea of which chapters you should pay the closest attention to.

Interestingly, the authors encourage business owners to think of their employees as customers, too. "Too often we limit our definition of a customer to someone who is outside of our company," they lament. "The other half of the picture is the people who work inside your company and rely on you for the services, products, and information that they need to get their jobs done. They are not traditional customers, yet they need the same tender, loving care you give to your external customers." Makes a lot of sense to the non-dummies among us, doesn't it?

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This article was originally published in the July 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Customer Service For Dummies.

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