John Smart is a Management & Leadership Consultant, Director and owner of PMR Training & Development and the author of ‘PROUD: Achieving Customer Service Excellence‘.
We recently met up with John for a chat specifically about his book, enjoy!
Tell us a bit about your new book…. what is it about?
‘PROUD: Achieving Customer Service Excellence’ is about understanding the PROUD principle, its foundation and methodology, how it can be applied in order to achieve excellent customer service.
Is it part of a series? Are you planning any more?
Possibly. Whether or not this will be in similar vein to PROUD will be will dependant on certain factors.
It was a combination of poor customer service, client requirements and people I met on my workshops. The first is fairly obvious, though there are some very good people and companies who provide excellent customer service, but there are also some very poor ones.
During my travels, both at home and internationally, whether working or for pleasure, I was always struck at the varying degrees of customer service you could encounter, from very bad to truly amazing. When I would be discussing with clients what they wanted from my customer service workshops they would give me a list of things, predominately behavioural – from ‘I want them to be able to…’, ‘I want them to understand…’ and these lists included some of the words on the front-page of the book.
During the workshops that I ran I would ask the delegates what values/behaviours they would expect from excellent customer service and, surprise surprise they produced the same words. I was also constantly posed the same question, both by the clients and the delegates: ‘I/We would love to have an all-encompassing acronym or saying that could wrap this all up.’ I felt the same. There were many, ’10 things…’, ‘Top 12…’ or acronyms that only told part of the picture, contained too many letters, or the word had no real meaning or resonance.
This then got me thinking. So grouping the words, mapping out the overall customer service experience, checking this against known theories and models, ensuring it met behavioural and motivational aspects, as well as being simple, concise and memorable – PROUD was developed. The fact that it is formed around one of the most emotive and inspirational words in the English language helps to instil the true aspirational goal of providing excellent customer service.
What has the reaction been so far from readers?
Very positive. The book itself is about understanding the mechanism, background, rationale, methodology of PROUD, but the real reaction has been about the actual PROUD principle. Everyone who has read it and the comments I have received can see that PROUD is simple, easy to understand and apply, makes perfect sense and above all – works.
Who do you think needs to read the book?
Everyone. Seriously. PROUD is predominately aimed at achieving excellent customer service, but its reach is far more extensive. In a generic sense, ‘customers’ can be internal, e.g. – those we deal with within our organisation; as well as external, e.g. – those external or outside our organisation. At some point we will be a ‘customer’, and also at some point we will have to deal with a ‘customer’. Just through daily interaction of asking someone in the business to provide something for you can be a ‘customer’ interaction and vice-versa.
So, whether you’re the CEO or the most junior level of the organisation, PROUD will apply. PROUD provides the basis and framework to ensure that this is undertaken correctly.
If you’re providing a service or dealing with a customer you can ask yourself: ‘Am I being PROUD?’ On the opposite side, if you’re the customer you can ask yourself: ‘Is he/she being PROUD?’ It not only operates at an individual level, but should be the culture adopted by the whole organisation. Additionally, it can be applied to your own personal life and behaviour, and not restricted to business activities.
In a nutshell, what is the defining message of the book?
By adopting PROUD, you will have a basic framework which, if applied, will ensure that you will provide excellence customer service. It’s an holistic set of principles that forms one of the emotive and inspirational words in the English language, utilising its aspirational qualities. It will make your interaction with others improve and provide a better customer service experience on all levels. It really could be the only customer service acronym you will ever need.
When is your book available to purchase and from where?