Houston-based Pro-Mark, the world's largest manufacturer of drumsticks for musicians, drums up attention to clients' needs and positive feedback by routing its customers' letters to targeted employees. "Scrutinizing complaints is the only way to get better, and employees need compliments to know that customers appreciate them. Even compliments directed at someone else can spur others to provide great service," says Bari Brochstein-Ruggeri, director of sales.

Instead of posting customers' letters on the lunchroom wall or distributing copies to everyone, Pro-Mark prefers a personalized approach. When a customer's letter arrives, the names of up to one-third of the company's 30 employees are handwritten in the margin. The list functions as a routing slip to share the letter with those directly involved and others who might appreciate or learn from it. Not all letters are circulated, just those that clearly reinforce service values or suggest a need for improvement. Coworkers sign off next to their names, and some even add supportive comments.

Selective distribution has several advantages. Handwritten names make employees more likely to read and reflect on the customer's remarks. Knowing that colleagues have actually read the letter further increases the satisfaction of the complimented employee. And employees not on the list don't stop what they're doing to read something of marginal relevance to their jobs.

The individualized routing system makes employees feel included, says Brochstein-Ruggeri. "When people feel good about their jobs, they do them better. The result is better service for customers."

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing