An instructive—though lengthy and overeager—appreciation of the proposition that superior service can give almost any kind of enterprise a decisive competitive advantage. In a brief introductory section, Zemke (coauthor of 1985's Service America!) reviews the ABCs of providing first-rate service and remedying deficiencies. While many of the points he makes may strike some observers as obvious, they bear repeating, given a post-industrial marketplace geared to reward performance as well as production. He asserts, for instance, that there must be substantive commitment on the part of top executives for any organization to earn a reputation as a source of top-drawer service. In like vein, Zemke endorses not only responding to but also understanding customer needs, developing strategic policies, creating a climate in which service can prosper as a priority, setting standards, training employees to (as it were) deliver the goods, rewarding accomplishment, and otherwise adhering to self-evident principles more honored in the breach than the observance. The bulk of the text is devoted to laudatory short-take profiles of 101 organizations that Zemke deems best in class when it comes to service. His honor roll encompasses a cross-section of US business, plus a fair sampling of not-for-profit entities, e.g., the American Automobile Association, Battelle Memorial Institute, and Mayo Clinic. The corporate world is represented by both household names (American Express, Delta Air Lines, GE, Marriott, McDonald's, UPS, etc.) and less familiar companies; in the latter category are Amalgamated Bank of New York, Bob Evans Farms (a regional restaurant chain), Pioneer Hi-Bred (a leading agribusiness light), Quad/Graphics (a printer), and Shared Medical Systems (which supplies computer services to hospitals). Conspicuous by their absence, though, are case histories from such fields as accountancy, education. law, and management consulting. With the service sector now a dominant force in the domestic economy, Zemke's paradigmatic directory offers sound (albeit gratingly ardent) guidance for those seeking to capitalize on or merely fathom contemporary trends.
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