If you want to provide good service, hire the right employees for the job. But what jobs are they really doing? You may need to redefine the function of each employee to get it right.

First Priority Group (FPG), a $33-million company that manages collision repair for corporate fleets and insurance carriers, initially emulated competitors by hiring experienced mechanics to coordinate the repair process. However, it was difficult to teach them to empathize with customers and perform follow-up service.

After losing several accounts and interviewing current, former, and prospective customers, it dawned on FPG president Michael Karpoff that his company wasn't really a car repair organization, but rather an administrative services company designed to reduce the stress and cost of the collision-repair process.

In the 10 years since the reorganization, customer satisfaction with the Plainview, N.Y., company has soared, and FPG hasn't lost a single customer because of poor service. Revenues continue to grow 25% annually. At the request of satisfied corporate customers, a comparable service for personal automobiles, now offered through affinity groups, accounts for 10% of revenues--and is growing dramatically.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing