Book Reviews

Book By: Ron Zemke
Review By: Margie Davidson
Director, Center for Student Records and Academic Information
Drake University


Of course we expect to provide quality customer service.  But how do we assess if we actually meet this goal?  Knock Your Socks Off Service provides a very complete assessment instrument to do just that.

Complete with Facilitator Guide and self-scoring instruments for both managers and employees, this 79 question assessment measures customer service effectiveness in eight areas: defining excellent service; creating customer focus; evaluating service performance; recognizing/rewarding service; training and supporting staff; systems, policies and procedures; sales & service link; and service orientation. While written from a business/sales perspective, it is fairly easy to translate the questions to a higher education setting. 

The assessment instruments are derived from the SMPI ™ (Service Management Practices Inventory)™.  The entire instrument, based on the research performed by Performance Research Associates, Inc., is supported by a database of 62,413 cases gleaned from cases in areas as diverse as banking, insurance, Canadian industries, and the public sector.  The Facilitator’s Guide provides further explanation of each survey item as well as instructions on how to interpret scores and copy for overhead transparencies.  The authors provide suggestions for customer service strategic planning including how to design development sessions and activities.  Citing various research studies, authors use survey data to study external and internal customer satisfaction predictors, the impact of a written service strategy, and employee “ownership” of the customer service efforts.  Both the employee and manager versions of the Assessment contain instructions for self-scoring, charts, and graphs to plot your own (and your organization’s) results.  Templates are also provided that can aid participants in setting personal improvement goals in each of the scales’ eight dimensions.

Knock Your Socks Off is a companion piece to other Zemke publications such as Service America!  Doing Business in the New Economy and a series of Knock Your Socks Off books: Delivering, Managing, Sustaining and Coaching. Because Service is a part of a series I initially thought that it might be difficult to understand the assessments as stand-alone documents.  To see if that was the case I had two staff members complete the employee service assessment while I completed the manager’s assessment.  We found it easy to pinpoint the service areas in which we are weak, areas where we excel, and areas in which our perceptions differ significantly. 

After completing the service assessment I believe it can be used without any prior experience with the Knock Your Socks Off series.  I believe that the service assessment would be very informative and helpful in a training course or as part of an on-going customer-service development program. 



Knock Your Socks Off Service:  Customer Service Participant and Facilitator Guides. (1998). Book by Zemke, Ron. Review by Margie Davidson. King of Prussia, PA: HRDQ.  



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