Beyond Customer Service:
Effective Programs for Retaining Your Customers

Richard F. Gerson, Crisp Publications, 1200 Hamilton Court, Menlo Park, CA 94025, 1998, 108 pp., $10.95. (book)

High-quality customer service is a key factor for success in business. The greatest profits result from long-term customer retention rather than from new customer acquisitions. This book explains the importance of superior customer service for business success and shows how to develop effective customer retention programs.

The key issues covered in the book include the importance of good customer service, the assessment of customers' needs and expectations and the development of effective customer retention programs. The book is divided into four parts. The first part focuses on the importance of good customer service for achieving success in business. It also explains how to calculate the cost of poor customer service. The second part discusses how to assess customers' needs and expectations, and it describes how to manage angry customers. The third part provides comprehensive information regarding the development and implementation of effective customer retention programs. Techniques for customer service marketing are also explained in part three. The last part further explains the content of the three previous parts. This part of the book describes specific ways of retaining customers for life, and it lists various customer retention programs with proven effectiveness. The two appendices at the end of the book contain sample questionnaires to help organizations evaluate their customer service efforts and develop customer profiles.

The book is reader-friendly and understandable, and it facilitates self-paced learning at its best. Its key strength is the use of a tabular format to effectively present the core ideas, and it is useful to anyone looking for ways to develop and implement effective customer retention programs to achieve success in business.

Shamsa Anwar
University of Pennsylvania-Altoona
Hollidaysburg, PA

GMP Compliance, Productivity And Quality: Achieving Synergy In Healthcare Manufacturing

Edited by Vinay Bhatt, Interpharm Press, 1358 Busch Parkway, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089, 1998, 492 pp., $229. (book)

The pharmaceutical industry is subject to a uniquely stringent set of standards for quality. Like the firms in any other industry, pharmaceutical firms are under constant pressure to increase quality while increasing profitability. GMP Compliance, Productivity and Quality is an integrated collection of 13 chapters written by contributors representing an outstanding practical body of knowledge from leading U.S., Canadian and Swiss firms.

The book's main objective is to provide comprehensive, practical information on process optimization coupled with enhanced compliance for a manufacturer of pharmaceutical products whose goals are to:

* Maintain a competitive advantage to ensure profitability.

* Achieve high quality standards in order to meet customer expectations.

* Comply with global regulatory requirements in order to meet good manufacturing practices (GMP) criteria.

The book provides information on how to identify and evaluate strategies for improved quality and productivity. For example, the chapter titled "Process Improvement and GMP Compliance: Partners Not Adversaries" covers the full life cycle of new product development within an organization, including the specific roles of each department such as marketing, research and quality control. Another interesting chapter is the one titled "Process Equipment Optimization: Getting the Combination Right." This chapter discusses equipment design for process optimization with emphasis on liquid manufacturing and process piping integration. A final noteworthy chapter, "Pharmaceutical Quality: Evolution or Revolution?" provides a diagnosis and prognosis of today's pharmaceutical industry in terms of competitive advantage. This chapter focuses on seven areas:

1. Quality standards.

2. Robust product design.

3. Integration of compliance needs with continuous improvement efforts.

4. Focus on the customer.

5. Focus on internal processes.

6. Focus on the individual.

7. Effective ways to sell compliance to senior management.

Each area is thoroughly discussed, and the discussion identifies gaps between current practice and what appears to be in store for the future.

The practical nature of this handbook, in conjunction with the many real-life examples it presents, makes it required reading for practitioners involved in the task of improving the balance between quality and productivity in the pharmaceutical industry. Those who succeed discover that both can be achieved simultaneously. The book presents several good ideas, examples and methods.

Ron S. Kenett
KPA Limited
Raanana, Israel

NLP Solutions: How To Model What Works in Business To Make It Work For You

Sue Knight, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1163 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville, IL 60563, 1999, 252 pp., $17.95. (book)

NLP Solutions is about best practices on a personal level--it is very people oriented. NLP stands for neurolinguistic programming, or the process of connecting body language and language to program yourself for top performance and success. The author ties NLP to the learning organization concept Peter Senge presents in The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, to benchmarking and to Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In a business setting, NLP can be used to determine best practices, transfer best practices to others, access talents and skills, coach others, elicit unique skills and spot talent.

The first part of the book covers the modeling process. Modeling takes place when someone watches the best person perform the process to be modeled and tries to discern the "difference that makes the difference." The difference that makes the difference is what makes the best person outperform all others. Sometimes the difference is very small because all the performers are almost equal. But there is always at least one difference that makes one person stand out from the others. Modeling is more effective than interviews and discussions in showing the difference that makes the difference.

The second part of the book covers the application of NLP to business settings. This is where Knight's extensive experience shows itself. There are case studies and examples that cover the gamut from telephone sales to customer relations to internal banking processes. The case studies are inspiring and motivating, and they show how you can apply NLP to your business or personal situation.

At the end of each chapter, there is a set of thought provoking questions designed to help you think about and understand the content of the chapter. There are also a few workshops and techniques for you to try.

As with most books on NLP, this book is heavy on theory and motivation and light on specifics. It presents some of what's been learned by others' application of NLP, but it is not a cookbook of techniques and instant actions that will make you into a perfect person. For some the book will not be fully useful unless followed by a course in NLP techniques.

The techniques on building rapport will help anyone in business and, particularly, those who must deal with people in order to get their jobs done. In the quality field, auditor personnel can benefit from practicing the techniques discussed in this book.

Norman C. Frank
Carlsbad, NM

Introduction to Continuous Improvement For Process Operators

IPC, 7196 Highway 518, Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557, 1999, $400. (video)

This video met my expectations and sometimes exceeded them. I was pleasantly surprised by its professional, straightforward approach. As probably the best video I've seen on the continuous improvement process, it is representative of current technology, thought and practice in its market, with the possible exception that it is directed to process operators.

I think service and manufacturing companies ready to embark on a quality improvement effort would benefit most from the video. Quality consultants and higher education professionals might also benefit, gaining a clear and comprehensible definition of continuous improvement. This invaluable tool introduces quality processes and appeals to a wide range of industries and organization levels.

Though I would readily recommend this video to anyone interested in learning more about continuous improvement, there are a few things I would do to enhance the clarity of the video:

* During the video, when the focus is on one section of the cycle, that section's wording is in red and an adjacent section's wording is in blue. Both the red and the blue are equally bright, and I found myself focusing on the wrong color. I would make the wording in red brighter.

* I would delete the words "for Process Operators" from the title and replace them with the words "for Process Owners" to indicate that the tape is meant for management and process operators. Also, I would mention that management is ultimately responsible for the process.

* In the introduction, I would add a line stating that the actors in the tape are from the publishing and wire manufacturing industries. I was easily distracted from the video's message, wondering about the actors' company affiliations.

C. Deal Moore
N-D-T Seals
Houston, TX

People Manager

Knowledge Point, 1129 Industrial Ave., Petaluma, CA 94952, 1999, $119 (single user). (software)

People Manager is one of many human resource (HR) related software applications manufactured by Knowledge Point, and it is designed as a specialized database to help professional HR staff manage all the crucial personnel tasks common to any organization. As the newest addition to the Knowledge Point lineup, it will surely be a hit in busy HR offices.

There are several main benefits HR staffers gain by using People Manager. For example, each time a person opens People Manager, a to-do calendar automatically alerts him or her to current and past due personnel tasks, including performance reviews and benefit eligibility.

The software is actually a large database, so users need to be sure they understand that the first time they use the product they will have to enter a lot of data. However, the report results will make this up front investment worthwhile in the end. The database can track attendance, manage vital personnel and benefit information, send review reminders and keep track of approved leave usage. The software yields a company customization and flexibility while allowing it also to enter its already existing performance mechanism.

I couldn't find anything wrong with this product. It excelled in several performance areas including general and computational responsiveness, technical accuracy, inclusion of standard capabilities, feature integration and online support. The program was easy to install, the screen layout was easy to comprehend and it used standard terms appropriately.

I strongly suggest the use of this product by all HR departments, and I highly recommend People Manager above all other HR applications. Besides being the perfect application for HR departments, it is competitively priced, making it easy for a company to invest in for organizationwide use.

Dale Farris
Farris Resources
Groves, TX

Principles and Practices Of Organizational Performance Excellence

Thomas J. Cartin, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 1999, 291 pp., member $27, list $30. (book)

This book provides an excellent summary of several quality improvement and management tools. It also discusses how and where to apply the tools in order to achieve positive change in current processes and results. Written in a systematic format, this book covers quality fundamentals as well as management integration of the various techniques. Each chapter is organized around a particular topic and presents relevant examples, a thorough bibliography and some study questions.

My main difficulty with this book is that the author does not define what he considers organizational performance excellence. He discusses all the techniques that will help one achieve excellence, but he never gives a clear definition. The reader must determine what excellence is and when certain shortcomings require improvement.

The book is logically organized and presents comprehensive information on a wide variety of techniques and ideas put forth by many of the gurus in the quality management field. The helpful diagrams, annotations, appendices and glossary all add to the book's organizational and informative excellence. Each topic is presented in a clear, succinct manner and contains contextual comments and suggestions.

Anyone looking for a thorough summary of improvement techniques will benefit from reading this book. A novice searching for quality improvement ideas will find several good places to start, but will likely be overwhelmed by the amount of information. The coverage is detailed, but out of necessity it is not excessively deep.

I think the book is a great resource for any practitioner of quality and improvement techniques. It will make an exceptional reference at the certified quality manager exam. However, it is not intended for the uninitiated or for those unfamiliar with current and classical quality techniques. For in-depth studies, there are better books, but this is a well-constructed, useful guide to the techniques used and referred to when trying to achieve improvement. The book also presents valuable ideas about applying each technique to its best advantage.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Interox
Houston, TX

Total Quality Management

Dale H. Besterfield, Carol Besterfield-Michna, Glen H. Besterfield and Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Prentice Hall, One Lake St., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, 1999, 532 pp., $90. (book)

Total Quality Management is an up-to-date textbook that can be used by corporations presenting a course on total quality management (TQM), managers reviewing theory or individuals analyzing or enhancing their knowledge of the field.

The book is organized and well-written and consists of two main parts. Part one is a thorough, cogent treatment of contemporary quality management. The requirements for commitment and leadership inherent in carrying out a successful quality management program are clearly laid out. A good understanding of the elements of TQM and the scope of management involvement necessary to achieve a successful system can be derived from the authors' use of diagrams, lists and descriptions of the practices of particular companies.

In the second part of the book, the authors describe most of the methods currently used for quality control, citing numerous examples. A concise description of quality standards and the ways in which these standards vary is also included. The treatment of methodology, in particular, is useful. The authors provide a sufficient description of each method so planners and managers can select a method for further research and application. I thought the explanations of terms such as benchmarking, quality function deployment and Taguchi quality engineering were particularly well written.

I give the authors high marks even though it would enhance the book if information systems and software development were addressed as candidates for TQM. The explosion of information systems, wireless communications and Internet business warrant discussion.

The book is comprehensive and each half can be used for separate instruction, or the book can be used as a whole. It works as a reference, a learning and planning tool, or an overview of the practice of TQM. This is a worthy contribution to the literature of quality management.

William F. Foster
Vienna, VA

Bullseye: Hitting Your Strategic Targets Through High-Impact Measurement, William A. Schiemann and John H. Lingle, The Free Press, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, 1999, 206 pp., $30. (book)

Insights to Performance Excellence in Education 1999: An Inside Look at the 1999 Baldrige Award Criteria for Education, Mark L. Blazey, Karen S. Davidson and John P. Evans, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 1999, 222 pp., member $33.50, list $40.75. (book)

Multiple Comparisons and Multiple Tests Using the SAS System, Peter H. Westfall, Randall D. Tobias, Dror Rom, Russell D. Wolfinger and Yosef Hochberg, SAS Institute, SAS Campus Drive, Cary, NC 27513, 1999, 397 pp., $40.95. (book)

Scoring a Whole in One: People in Enterprise Playing in Concert, Edward Martin Baker, Crisp Publications, 1200 Hamilton Court, Menlo Park, CA 94025, 1999, 80 pp., $12.95. (book)

Total Quality Management: Text, Cases and Readings, Third Edition, Joel E. Ross, CRC Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd. NW, Boca Raton, FL 33431, 1999, 550 pp., $39.95. (book)

ProCal 2000: Professional Calibration Management System Version 3.0, Prime Technologies, 20 Hagerty Blvd., Suite 1, West Chester, PA 19382, 1988, $2495 per single copy. (CD-ROM)

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