“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.”
– Henry Ford

In a free enterprise system, all business is customer-driven. Those who best please the customer get the business.

The concept of providing outstanding customer service is not new. As our quote from Henry Ford testifies, he well understood the importance of giving the customer best value for money even when mass production was in its infancy. The challenges for managers is to perpetrate this customer-driven philosophy throughout their organization.

Let us learn from the best examples:

1.IKEA’s no frills policy keeps customers pouring in!

Customers contribute to the low prices at IKEA by selecting and collecting the products from the self-serve hall, taking them home and using the instructions enclosed to assemble them. Many have already chosen the products from IKEA catalog, of which 190 million copies are printed in 24 different languages. The stores are constantly developing to make shopping easier and more fun for customers.

The key IKEA’s success is its employee training program. The Netherlands-based group employs 65,000 sales staff or “co-workers” worldwide. With a retail operation that requires so much cooperation from the customer, and a huge product range, there is much that can potentially go wrong. Accordingly, the co-workers are extensively cross-trained in sales and stock opertations so that they can address any customer query or issue that may arise. In addition, co-workers are trained to be alert—to observe any customers who appear to be in difficulty, from acrrying thier flatpacks to having selected the wrong item. The co-workers are empowered to provide practical incentives to any shopper who is inconvineinced—such as fre meals at instore restaurant, cash vouchers, discounts and free delivery.

The policy has clearly paid off. In 2010, almost 700 million people visited IKEA stores worldwide, up from 632 million two years previously. Turnover rose from US$32.5 billion to US$34.3 billion for the same period.

2.Putting on the Ritz with customer service excellence!

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company was founded on principles of groundbreaking levels of customer service. The essence of this philosophy was refined into a set of core values collectively called The Gold Standards. All 22,000 employees of The Ritz-Carlton know, embrace and implement these guidelines.

Commenting on The Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, one customer described it as: “One of the best hotels in the world. The are ready to bend over backwards to assist. Whenever you walk through the lobby the staff greet you by name. I can remember walking into breakfast, having arrived late the night before. Without even knowing my room number, I was greeted by name and asked how I liked my eggs. I am still at a loss as to how the staff pulled that one off.”

Here are some best practices for excellent customer service:

  • Meets customers face-to-face whenever possible
  • Builds and sustains strong customer relationships
  • Dedicates providing the highest quality products and services
  • Understands the importance of customer focus
  • Meets the needs and requirement of internal and external customers
  • Uses customer focus throughout the organization
  • Commits to continuous improvement in serving the customer


An excerpt from What Bosses Want
By Gary V. Nelson and Bonnie L. Nelson
Founders of NBOGroup

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