Hitting the Long Ball for the Customer

By Stum, David L.; Church Ronald P. | Training & Development Journal, March 1990 | Go to article overview

Hitting the Long Ball for the Customer


Stum, David L., Church Ronald P., Training & Development Journal


Hitting the Long Ball for the Customer

The most common reason why companies strike out with customers is poor service. This new customer-satisfaction model, based on a baseball diamond, can help your company stay in the game.

Gaining and holding a loyal customer base is a key corporate challenge in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Customers dictate profits, and consumer studies show that how the customer is treated and how the company backs up its public commitments to service satisfaction largely determine whether the customer will remain loyal or switch to another supplier.

Trainers and organization development professionals are being challenged to help their companies improve customer-service quality, customer satisfaction, and repeat-purchase loyalty. The research demands it, as the following potpourri of facts shows: * According to a Forum study, the most common reason that customers switch to a competitor is poor service. * The American Management Association asserts that 60 percent of new sales should come from old customers, showing repurchase loyalty. * Consultant R.L. Desatnick points out that in the auto industry, for example, a loyal customer represents a lifetime revenue of $140,000. * The Consumer Affairs Office warns that seven out of 10 people may stop doing business with a supplier based on the way they are treated during a first contact. * AT&T reports that the number of 800 numbers (often used by companies that want to provide customer information or assistance) grows 25 percent annually. * The Technical Assistance Research Project (T.A.R.P.) states that a company will never hear from up to 90 percent of its unsatisfied customers (though those unhappy people will tell 10 others about their negative experiences), but that when dissatisfied customers do complain, their loyalty significantly increases if their complaints are resolved to their satisfaction.

As they considered such facts, industries from banking to retailing and from high-tech to personal services made customer service and satisfaction the priority topic of the late 1980s. Training magazine reported in 1987 that companies viewed customer service as the most critical future challenge for training departments. Users of ASTD's TRAINET computer database can find hundreds of citations on the topics of customer service, customer relations, and customer satisfaction.

The initial response to the challenge has concentrated on training service employees. Superstar consultants (Tom Peters in Passion for the Customer, for instance) have sensitized corporations to the importance of their front-line employees. The clerk, salesperson, or service technician is the point of contact between the customer and the company; such corporate ambassadors hold many of the keys to eventual customer satisfaction and loyalty. Also, they are the ones who too often have been neglected and undertrained for their roles. Unfortunately, the new attention to front-line employees has led to a proliferation of training programs and seminars referred to lightly as "smile" training or charm school.

Though the interpersonal skills and professional image of front-line employees are critical for success, the belief that their training alone can guarantee customer satisfaction and a competitive edge smacks of a corporate quick-fix; the eventual bottom-line results could be disappointing. As in any attempt at organizational change, training professionals must take into consideration many variables if true customer satisfaction is to follow.

A diamond model

A baseball diamond model (see the figure) depicts four areas for action planning and change for the company that wants to make a complete effort in customer service and satisfaction. At first base is the front-line employee who must handle customer contacts --he or she not only must make sales or render services, but also must engender customer satisfaction with the sales/service experience that will lead to future purchases or referrals. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hitting the Long Ball for the Customer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.