China Turns to the U.S. for Customer Service Training

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China is focusing on customer service and is using a US firm to help them create world class service.

When the World Expo opens in Shanghai in 2010, visitors can expect to find the utmost in customer service, thanks in part to John Tschohl, founder and president of the Service Quality Institute (SQI) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In what might well be the world’s largest training contract, SQI signed agreements last summer with the Chinese government to provide customer-service training and certification for more than 1.4 million workers for the World Expo.

“It’s exciting to see the most populated country in the world taking a leadership role in driving world-class service,” Tschohl says. “It’s unusual to find a government with such a focus on customer service. China understands that the customer experience is just as important as the billions of dollars it is spending to make Shanghai a world-class city. It will give them a tremendous competitive advantage.”

The World Expo, which will include participation by some 200 countries, is expected to draw more than 70 million people from throughout the world over the course of its184-day run. “They are investing more than $10 billion on the city’s infrastructure—everything from transportation to cultural facilities—and they want world-class service when these millions of people come to China,” Tschohl says. “We are training 1.2 million people, everyone from hotel staff and restaurant workers to airport employees and tourism people—anyone who will impact customer service.”

Tschohl and his staff are training staff of the World Expo Group’s Shanghai Foreign Service, which is responsible for recruiting and training works for the 2010 World Expo, at its Minneapolis headquarters. Those people then will train hundreds of thousands of other workers in China. Tschohl conducted seminars in Shanghai, Dalian, and Beijing last fall and will return to China at least once a year between now and 2010 to continue that training. He also serves as an advisor to the Shanghai Foreign Service, China’s leading human resources services company, with more than 100,000 employees who work for more than 8,000 multinational companies and foreign enterprises in that country.

“Last year, recognizing the significant impact of the service sectors on the growth and efficiency of its overall economic performance, Shanghai drew up a guideline to develop its service industry,” Tschohl says. “The GDP from the service sector currently is 51 percent of Shanghai’s total GDP and is expected to increase to 80 percent.”

SQI has been training people throughout the world in what Tschohl describes as “the art of customer service” for 35 years and is represented in more than 40 countries. Tschohl has written several books on the subject as well, which are available in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese. By 2010, all of SQI’s products—which include books and training programs—will be published and available in China.

“Thousands of organizations will take our certification seminars as proof of their service quality,” Tschohl says. “We are excited and honored to be playing a role in bringing customer service in China to the highest possible level.”

John Tschohl is an international service strategist and speaker. Described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a customer service guru, he has written several books on customer service, including Loyal for Life; e-Service; The Customer is Boss; Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service; and Ca$hing In: Make More Money, Get a Promotion, Love Your Job. John also has developed more than 26 customer service training programs that have been distributed and presented throughout the world. His bimonthly strategic newsletter is available online at no charge.

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