3 Takeaways From “Who’s Your Gladys?”

WhosYourGladys-book-coverI recently had the opportunity to read the book, Who’s Your Gladys by Marylyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest.  The book profiles a series of companies that are known for their customer service.  Suttle and Vest do a fantastic job sharing in detail the unique characteristics of the customer service at these companies.  I want to take just a few moments to share three of my key takeaways.

Takeaway #1

My first takeaway was in the example of Professional Movers, a professional moving company who masterfully showed us how to serve Gladys.  Gladys is the name of any difficult customer and our goal is to serve the Gladyses of the world in such a way that they become our biggest fans.  In this story, the moving company accidentally broke a marble table top and without batting an eye, worked with Gladys to replace it.

The lesson here is that “Customer service is about seeing the positive qualities in a client with negative behavior.”  The moving company did just that with a demanding customer and the result was a loyal customer that has referred others to use their service.

Takeaway #2

The second story that resonated with me was the profile of Preston Wynne Spa.  President and CEO Peggy Wynne Borgman is a strong leader who understands the upper class clientele they serve and goes to great lengths to make sure that the experience is perfect for their clients.  They pointed out that “High-quality customer service calls for people who are committed to creating a positive client experience.”  The chapter goes on to talk about the rigorous hiring process to ensure that every employee upholds the high standard she has set.  I find myself challenged to work harder to ensure that the experience for our customers is perfect.

Takeaway #3

My final takeaway was from Paul Reed Smith Guitars.  As a guitar player, how could I not pick that one?  I loved this quote:

Allowing employees to make customer service decisions in the moment is critical. People are frequently afraid to make decisions because they’re afraid to make mistakes.  When you take that away from the equation, you still get an occasional mistake, but the quality of customer service goes up dramatically.

This cannot be stated enough.  As leaders, we should always be empowering our customer service staff to solve problems for customers.  It eliminates layers of bureaucracy and reduces the time it takes to resolve issues.

Conclusion

With just a few insights, I’ve left much for you to discover.  Who’s Your Gladys contains tons of nuggets of customer service wisdom that will leave you full of ideas to improve yourself and your company’s customer service.  Happy reading!

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Jeremy Watkin is Director of Customer Experience and Support at NumberBarn. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service and contact center professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, product marketing, social media, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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