Peter Bull of Cherry Hill, N.J., didn't want his customers to feel the frustration he feels when talking with a customer-service rep who doesn't know him or his situation. At his company, Taurus Packaging and Display, a provider of point-of-purchase advertising displays, each customer is assigned to one customer-service rep., and arrangements are made for the two to meet, if possible.

With an assigned rep, the customer has an advocate within Taurus. This is someone who will give the salesperson on the account a well-timed nudge rather than just stick another note in an outbox. The customer-service rep and salesperson on an account form a team that backs each other up. Working with specific clients is more fulfilling for the service reps, too. Team camaraderie develops, and the rep feels instrumental in the success of a finished project.

Bull's strategy also pays off in customer retention. Customers say they like the personal, efficient service and have strong relationships with their reps. "When I phone customers to see how everything's going, they often say they are ready to place another order. I offer to take the order, but they say no, they'd rather place it with Danielle in customer service. It's not that I'm going to muff the order, it's that they have a good relationship with their rep," Bull observes. "The superior service provided by the assigned reps is one reason our sales have grown from zero to $12 million in six years."

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing