Book Review: The Age of the Customer

Raul Pupo’s America’s Service Meltdown: Restoring Service Excellence in the Age of the Customer is a must-read for business leaders at all levels, for students in business school, academia, and anyone interested in learning more about how to conduct service in this changing economy. Pupo’s reason for writing the book, or the take home message per se, is to alert corporations and the nation that poor service-not just offshore labor rates-are feeding an outsourcing juggernaut that we can’t seem to be able to stop. The sad irony is that the United States, which for all practical purposes invented the service economy, is being “outserviced” by most of the rest of the world

Pupo’s style is largely informal, but the book’s principles are clear and broken down into five, concise and thought-provoking chapters. The philosophy of the book is quite intriguing as it emphasizes a customer-first focus on service. It probes into ethical behaviors in business, proper training for those employees that are at the front of the ranks, as well as differentiating between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

America’s Service Meltdown presents information based on experience in the service industry instead of classroom theory from business and marketing classes. Pupo digs deep and uses contemporary events such as Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme to demonstrate the collapse of ethical service on a national level.

The content of the text revolves around four customer-service criteria. The first criterion is to establish a leadership team that unconditionally believes its goal should be to provide the best service to the customer. Second, a business planning process begins, not ends, with the customer. The third success factor is the need to instill ethical service principles and practices up and down the employee ladder. The final factor is to have a well-trained group equipped with the proper tools and resources to deliver excellence in service.

Ultimately, Raul Pupo delves into what it takes to be a leader at the top and how to build a customer-centric culture of service. Unlike textbooks, which hammer readers with theory, America’s Service Meltdown presents a series of real life case studies, based on personal experience, in order to relate on a more practical level with the intended audience. The book can be ordered at Amazon.com, BN.com, and almost everywhere books are sold.

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