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A Sweet Approach To Customer Service

A Sweet Approach To Customer ServiceIn Jonathan Tisch's new book, the Tufts graduate and Loews Hotels CEO says that the key to success can be found in the customer experience.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.26.07] In his first book, "The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships," Loews Hotels CEO and Tufts graduate Jonathan Tisch extolled the virtues of businesses working with the community. In his latest book, "Chocolates on the Pillow Aren't Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience," he discusses another important relationship—the one that a business has with its customers.

“Competition is intense in every business, especially in the hotel industry,” Tisch (A'76) explained on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “The challenge is to ensure that your guests know that you want them to be comfortable [and that you want to] take care of them.”

As CEO of Loews Hotels, Tisch oversees the operations of hotels in 15 North American cities. He is also a Tufts trustee, a recipient of the 1996 Distinguished Alumni Award and a generous donor to the university with his gift last year to endow the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.

In an interview with fellow Tufts graduate Meredith Vieira on NBC's Today, Tisch explained that companies need to connect with consumers in order to set themselves apart from the competition.

"There are so many smart people out there trying to get us to buy their products. But the really good companies are finding ways to have a connection, either physical or emotional," he said on NBC's Today. "They know what the consumer wants and they've changed their product line to get that consumer. As we say, it's turning customers into guests."

In his book, published in February, Tisch discusses the "aha" moment when a consumer bonds with a product. "When the consumer can see that the company that they're going to do business with can break through the clutter, that's an aha moment,” he said on Today.

Just as he criticized the cutthroat corporate attitude in "The Power of We," Tisch endorses a friendlier, mutually beneficial brand of customer service in his new book. Today's consumer, says the Tufts graduate, is looking for more than a simple transaction.

"They don't want to just hand over their credit card, hand over their cash. They want an experience," Tisch told Today. "The good companies are learning what the experience is all about when the customer does business with them."

According to Tisch, Sephora, Best Buy, Build-a-Bear and Lands' End are examples of companies that have translated more effective customer service into commercial success. To achieve similar results at Loews, Tisch told Squawk Box that his job is to communicate the importance of customer service to all of his employees.

“As CEO of the company, I have got to make sure that there is buy-in at every level of the organization,” he told Squawk Box. “It takes a lot of work, but that is what differentiates us from the competition.”

As more consumers make their choices based on customer service, Tisch says they will have an increasingly powerful influence on the way companies do business.

"[Consumers] should find companies that really care about them, that listen to them, that have taken their thoughts into consideration," Tisch explained on Today.

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