Although in some ways Customer Service for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide, Foster City, Calif., 1995) lives up to its name -- it's replete with dopey icons and hackneyed insights, such as "incomplete or dirty uniforms create a negative impression" -- Karen Leland and Keith Bailey's guide to customer service is worth the $19.99 price tag.

Check out chapter 9, about customer surveys, which covers how to figure out a strategy for collecting useful customer information and how to avoid obvious pitfalls, like employing a 1-to-5 number scale, which permits respondents to pick a noncommittal 3, instead of a 1-to-6 scale. Anyone creating a survey for the first time should turn to the sample questionnaires for guidelines. Also, pay attention to chapter 11, the one on service training. It's loaded with advice about how to keep employees engaged in the training process before and after the sessions.

The book is most helpful if you already know what your specific problem is. Thanks to an almost page-by-page table of contents and a detailed index, it's easy for harried business owners to quickly find answers to pressing questions, such as "How can I call my customers dummies and still get their business?"

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