What makes the world's top companies so adept at providing stellar customer service? How do they meet the needs of every customer and still turn healthy profits? And, most important, how can you adapt their practices to fit your business? Thanks to over six years of ongoing research and an investment of $30 million, Arthur Andersen has created its Global Best Practices Database to uncover breakthrough thinking at world-class companies. Now, in Best Practices, Arthur Andersen for the first time shares its understanding of how more than forty best-practices companies focus on their customers, create growth, reduce cost, and increase profits. Managers of any business in any industry can adapt and apply what those companies do best. Unlike most books based merely on an author's own theories or limited anecdotal experience, Best Practices is backed up by 30,000 pages of active, documented data on hundreds of companies worldwide. This book concentrates primarily on customers and how to involve them in everything from the design of products and services to marketing, selling, and product delivery. Perhaps the greatest value of the book lies in its linking of best practices to business processes, thereby encouraging managers to expand their thinking and engage in creative problem-solving with the help of insights from companies inside or outside their own industry For example, the manager of a clothing store chain can study how Federal Express adapted the concept of just-in-time manufacturing to its rapid delivery of parts between supplier and customer. The owner of a small coffee shop chain might learn from American Express and Peapod how to target customers by offering particular products and predicting exactly when they will make their next purchases. These and other examples will help business people diagnose the processes in place at their own companies and determine how best to improve them. Comprehensive and on the cutting edge, Best Practices will serve as an invaluable information resource.
Discussion Questions 1. What are your company's "Best Practices"? Are there any best practices you can adopt from your number one competitor? Why or why not? 2. Coldwell Banker Relocation Services has a 99 percent client retention rate. How does it keep its customers so happy -- and what can you learn from their strategies? What is your customer retention rate? Does it indicate any trends you can act upon? 3. Over a two year period, Nike increased its total sales to women from 15 percent to 65 percent. How did Nike expand this market segment so quickly -- and what can you learn from their strategy? 4. How do you gather customer input about product design and use? Telephone or mail surveys? Internet bulletin boards? Focus groups? Feasibility studies? To what extent do you involve customers in the design of prototypes? What about their customers? 5. How easy is it for clients or customers to reach someone at your company with a proposed change or refinement? How long does it take for your company to respond? How many people get to see and discuss the proposal?
Robert Hiebeler is the Managing Director of KnowledgeSpace, Arthur Andersen's innovative approach to leveraging knowledge for its professionals and its clients. Over the past five years he has pioneered the development and deployment throughout Arthur Andersen of the Global Best Practices Knowledge Base, an effort that has captured best practices information from around the world in key business processes. In addition to implementing several productivity and quality Initiatives within Arthur Andersen he has consulted with hundreds of companies worldwide about the search for, and implementation of, best practices to improve business performance. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.