Great Customer Service Training = Great Service

Your article “Deliver Great Service by Listening and Adapting” (John Goodman and Crystal D. Collier, March 2007, p. 22) reinforced my current belief that a great service organization is built on the training of its first-line customer service personnel. After all, a service person’s ability to adapt is contingent on his or her ability to judge how best to satisfy a customer need and then execute on that judgment.

In my line of work (consulting), I cannot be effective unless I am able to listen to my customer describe the problem, assess the situation and craft a solution to best suit my customer’s needs. I might use standard business processes to reach my conclusions, but I cannot be effective without adequate training in the area in which I consult, which allows me to make the necessary judgments of my customer’s situation.

I would like to see future articles that perform a cost-of-quality analysis to determine how training, including training on so-called “soft skills,” such as listening and judgment, impacts the bottom line. I think service sector executives wish this information was more readily available so they could better manage their employees’ training.

Pharmtech Inc.
Libertyville, IL

Sarbanes-Oxley: The Universal Reason?

While reading Goodman and Collier’s article, I was struck by a specific comment they made. On p. 25, the authors say: “But you can’t empower every [customer service representative] to break rules at will. Rule breaking … is counter to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which addresses corporate financial accountability.”

I have seen this act being referenced to apply to a number of sins and actions, and I am dumbfounded. Do people just think they can blame anything they do or don’t do on this act, or is the act really all-encompassing? Either the act is all-powerful or companies are just using it to cover whatever they want.

Clarification would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps a short article on what this act is and why companies should fear it (or why they shouldn’t) would be a great help to your readers. At least it would help me.

Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility
Palestine, TX

Author’s Response

I do not disagree that Sarbanes-Oxley is out of control and should not hinder rational actions. However, compliance and legal officers in many financial institutions (with the support of overzealous accountants and consultants) have interpreted it to limit any deviation from a specified micro-process.

What my co-author and I are suggesting is this: Rather than fight the broad battle, which would require reinterpretation of the law by Congress and others, the decision process should be defined at the broader general issue level rather than an isolated transaction level. This allows flexibility while still complying with the process.

TARP Worldwide
Arlington, VA

‘First Person’ Inspirational

was inspired by “Quality Control and Brain Damage” (“Quality in the First Person,” Howard Lee, March 2007, p. 63). I will use it as a training message to new and existing quality professionals.

Lee was faced with very difficult situations and setbacks, but he endured them all, whereas most people would have given up. His spirit to keep pressing on to reach his goals is inspiring.

ASQ is a great organization that offers programs for those who want to further their passion for quality. I’m proud to be a member.

Trazar Corp.
Santa Clara, CA

‘Back to Basics’ Exposes Overlooked Tool

agree with Craig Plain’s “Back to Basics” column (“Build an Affinity for K-J Method,” March 2007, p. 88). An affinity diagram is a simple but powerful tool that is often overlooked.

I frequently use it as a way to get an Ishikawa session started. It gives everyone a chance to think first and provides an easy way to find natural categories. I transfer the results of the affinity groupings to the fishbone diagram and continue from there as usual.

The Sawyer Partnership
San Jose, CA


There were errors in the two equations on p. 31 of the March 2007 issue (“Using Statistics to Improve Satisfaction,” Sheldon D. Goldstein). The correct equations are as follows.

Equation 1:

In which:

k = the number of attribute samples

ni = the number of responses in
sample i

nT = the total number of responses
in all samples

Ri = the sum of the ranks for
sample i

Equation 2:

 In which:

e = the number of different
observations in the samples

ti = the number of observations tied with the ith observation in size

nT = the total number of responses
in all samples

There was also an error in “Assessing the Effectiveness of Controls Under Uncertainty” (Joe Conklin, March 2007, p. 64). The first equation under “Continuous Control Conditions” (p. 66) should have been:

p(x) = ey / (1 + ey).

Contact 'QP'

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