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In Becoming a Category of One, Mr. Joe Calloway makes a number of points you'll easily agree with. Consumers are becoming tougher and more discriminating . . . just think about yourself. In most cases, the products we consider buying are more similar than different. The prices may, in fact, be the same. How will we decide? Chances are that we will choose those who show they care about us. Mr. Calloway then goes on to describe many unique ways that consumer products companies provide extraordinary service. Do the employees at your tire dealer run to greet you? Will your retailer happily take any product back for any reason (even after you've used it) with no questions and no hassle? Does your salesperson call to check on how you are doing months later? If you skip your regular pizza order, does the manager call to find out if you had a problem with the last order?

Mr. Calloway goes on to provide a simple formula that anyone can understand for creating such extraordinary (and extraordinarily pleasing) service.

1. Know more about the customer than anyone else.

2. Get closer to the customer than anyone else.

3. Emotionally connect with the customer better than anyone else.

You have probably heard those first two points before. The third point is the unique one. How do you then inspire your colleagues to emotionally connect with customers?

Mr. Calloway draws on examples companies that have created strong cultures built around inspirational concepts of service to humanity. His favorite example is Lenscrafters, who are active in not only helping customers (arranging for an associate to hand glasses to a customer who was changing planes on the way to Europe after breaking his original glasses on the way to the first plane) but also all those who need help (collecting used glasses to give to those who cannot afford glasses). What does your company stand for? Are you proud to work for that company? If not, your culture needs work.

The book ends with interviews involving outstanding leaders whose companies (large and small) provide outstanding consumer service.

Mr. Calloway also describes the ways that he has adapted the same rules for his consulting and speaking practices.

Mr. Calloway is a gifted story teller and his examples are a pleasure to read. In most cases, the examples were new to me. Only the Lenscrafters examples failed to fully satisfy me (I've been to Lenscrafters many times and never noticed anything going on there that is nearly as good as what my eye doctor does . . . and his examples about Lenscrafters didn't excite me). I can see why he is a successful speaker. The book reads like what you would hear from a great motivational speaker. That's the book's strength. That's also, unfortunately, the book's weakness. In few places do you find out the details of how companies went from an inadequate culture to a great one that follows his principles. In this regard, pay attention to the examples of Palm Harbor Homes, Quill, CST, and Georgia Pacific to get a sense of what's involved. These companies have all been business model innovators, as well. Mostly you get an invocation to create a more compelling version of the company?s mission, vision and values . . . and then to repeat these at every opportunity. That?s part of the answer . . . but there?s a lot more involved. Companies with great cultures may produce few business model innovations. Southwest Airlines is probably a good example. Their business model has been little changed in decades except for being expanded geographically.

If you can combine continuing business model innovation with outstanding customer service of the sort described here, you will have a true category of one. I suggest that you supplement this excellent book by reading independently about ways to make frequent, effective business model innovations.

Now, if you have any questions about this review, I do hope you will e-mail me. Tell me a little about yourself, too, so that I can be of more service to you.

Deliver exceptional service that makes you feel great about yourself . . . and find improved ways to do so all the time!
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am 19. November 2011
I had no idea that I would read such an interesting, open, honest and realistic written book about how companies work, what they think of themselves and how Joe, the author, is describing them - the exact way as he views them: honestly topped with constructive critics. Eye-opening! A consultant with the right attitude: he gives direct info about how each biz shall look at itself to improve, to get better than each competitor and step out of the line of commodity. He describes ways to improve service and the people, which matter. Very powerful! My favourite 2 sentences - so far - from page 90: Superstars donŽt win games. Team win games. --> Enjoy reading and become a category of One.
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