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Broken Windows, Broken Business: How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Michael Levine

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From Publishers Weekly

Law-and-order criminology inspires this dour, hectoring treatise on the importance of sweating the small stuff in business. PR executive Levine, author of Guerrilla P.R., combines his professional concern for detailed image control with James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling's theory that minor signs of disorder foster a climate of insecurity that causes decent folk to flee. He contends that a company's metaphorical "broken windows"—a confusing Web site, messy restrooms, peeling paint, nagging inconsistencies like "when the waiter at a Chinese restaurant is named Billy Bob"—signal an indifference to consumer satisfaction that repels customers. His remedies are fairly routine: deploy mystery shoppers to ferret out shortcomings, remember that first impressions are lasting, strive to "exceed expectations." What's unusual is his fanaticism, his demands that businesspeople cultivate "the obsessive, compulsive, almost violent need to find the flaws," even when others "deny such things exist or insist that they are unimportant and that you are being ridiculous." Such denials may indicate that "more employees should be getting fired," particularly those who don't smile or are otherwise "coasting, doing their time, merely existing" and infecting other workers with their "virus." Levine is one hard-nosed beat cop, but his strident, repetitive style and emotionally insensitive methods mean that many readers (and certainly their underlings) will find the book more demoralizing than motivating.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


In March 1982, criminologists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling introduced the "broken windows" theory, which says that upkeep and reduction of petty crimes such as graffiti enhance the livability of a place and reduce the incidence of more violent crimes. Most law-enforcement experts balked at the time, but the theory was borne out in places like New York City, where Rudolph Giuliani put it into practice in the 1990s. Levine applies the same theory to business, where that same attention to detail can be the difference between failure and success. The "broken windows" that turn customers away could be as simple as poorly maintained restrooms, but more likely it's the customer service problems that slowly degrade a business over time. Levine reminds us that most customers will not even bother to complain when they're unhappy; they simply walk away. He makes his strongest case with the airline industry, buckling under massive failure because they've taken their customers for granted for so long. The examples ring true and the fundamentals apply to any size business. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 432 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 176 pages
  • Editeur : Grand Central Publishing (15 octobre 2007)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  38 commentaires
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Which "signals" is your organization sending? 10 décembre 2005
Par Robert Morris - Publié sur Amazon.com
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of the assertion that "God is in the details." Some have credited it to Le Corbusier, others to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Whoever its source may be, the relevance to the contemporary business world is compelling. More about that later. In his Introduction, Levine notes that the "broken windows" theory was first put forth by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling (in 1982) when explaining what a "broken window" is in criminal justice terms: a "signal" that if petty crimes such as graffiti and purse snatching are not dealt with in a resolute and timely manner, far more serious crimes will also be tolerated.

According to Wilson and Kelling, "social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken." Why? Levine: "Because the message being sent out by [something seemingly as insignificant as a] broken window -- the perception it invites -- is that the owner of this building and the people of the community around it don't care if the window is broken. They have given up and anarchy reigns here. Do as you will, because nobody cares."

Throughout his riveting narrative, Levine cites hundreds of workplace situations which send "signals that no one is watching." At least not consciously, perhaps, but many of them are absorbed and retained in the subconscious mind.

As I was well into reading this book, I thought about the only local car wash which my wife and I patronize. The pricing is competitive. What differentiates it from its competition? Those who work there are friendly, the interior and exterior waiting areas are impeccably clean as well as well-lit, and most important of all, each of our cars is always thoroughly cleaned inside and out. One final point, just before the attendant waves her or his towel, the side windows are rolled down an inch or two so that no water line is left. An insignificant detail? Not to us. We also patronize the same local dry cleaner. Friendly people, competitive prices, pleasant public area, etc. What's the difference? No wrinkles (ever) on shirts and blouses pressed. Seams on pressed pants and trousers are also pressed to perfection. Always. Broken buttons replaced. Every one of them. No need to point out stains. They see them and remove them. Always. These are two personal examples, I realize. Hardly definitive or even representative of their respective industries. That's the point.

All organizations have "broken windows" in one form or another. They are inevitable. Levine's key point is that organizations whose culture demands perfection in all operations and cordiality in all relationships will (a) minimize the number of their "broken windows" and (b) immediately repair those few which occur. No litter on the grounds. No dead plants in the lobby. No dimly-lit rooms. Most important of all, no toxic or incompetent people on the payroll.

Almost everything Levine recommends should require little (if any) expenditure of hours or dollars. All else being equal or comparable (quality of product, pricing, convenience, etc.), everything depends on being constantly alert for the aforementioned "signals" and then responding to them in a timely manner. Ignore them or delay the response to them and they will send messages which demoralize workers, offend customers, and discourage those who might otherwise provide new business. Stated enough way, tolerance of "broken windows" will add a substantial total cost which is avoidable. I strongly urge those who read this brief commentary of mine to read Levine's book. Absorb and digest his brilliant analysis of an obvious but generally neglected area of opportunity. Then with your associates, seek out and immediately repair every "broken window" throughout your organization. You can be certain that countless others have already noticed them.

If that fact does not seem important, indifference may well be the largest "broken window" in need of repair.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A Reinforcement of Good Logic 24 avril 2006
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book reinforces some solid business concepts which you probably have read or heard about previously. The basic logic is that little things count and is best summed up in an old rhyme or proverb

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The title and the logic is borrowed from an article published by criminologists George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson in the Atlantic Journal, March 1982 ([...] Malcolm Gladwell addressed this concept very cogently and interestingly in his best seller - The Tipping Point. (Now that IS a five star book).

Levine references a large number of corporations to illustrate the impact or fixing / not fixing broken windows. Although the publication date suggests November 2005, this book must have gone to press a long time prior to that. He castigates McDonald's for failure to implement the basics and states if Ray Kroc were to return today, he would die of embarrassment. That might have been accurate three years ago but not today. Indeed, the hamburger giant is now a poster child for the author's argument. It has made a dramatic effort to fix its broken windows including better food quality (quality is relative folks), much cleaner, fresher restaurants and a determined effort to make customers more welcome. It is because McDonald's has fixed many of its broken windows that it can now present consistent and substantial same store sales growth for the past three years. So McDonald's truly does prove his point, but this change was pretty obvious for at least two years prior to publication date.

The best chapter in the book is probably the one on Obsession and Compulsion. The author's view is that successful CEO's display an almost obsessive compulsive disorder in ensuring that basics are implemented, that staff is trained well and service is the "absolute center of broken windows for business". He cites Starbucks' Howard Schultz and George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees as obsessive, compulsive examples in their business dealings.

Behavior change does not happen overnight. It is a long slow process which requires constant reinforcement, which is why this book may be worth reading. If you and your colleagues are avid students of customer service and getting it right first time, (in other words have read a lot of good books on the topic) this book will add one more impression to help you believe that the basics do count and that broken windows do lead to broken business.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Simple Truth! 14 novembre 2005
Par Armchair Interviews - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book is about perception--and how perception is reality. If you think something is dirty, it is. If you think service is slow, it is. The book is built on original research among police departments. When police paid attention to taking care of the little things, e.g., graffiti and subway jumpers in New York City, citizens started to feel differently--that is, have a different perception about the city and more specifically the neighborhoods that they lived in. These small changes led to big changes in perception, which then leveraged greater changes.

Levine's point is that what cities did about crime, businesses can and are doing with respect to their customers and the perceptions their customers have of them. What is the difference between Wendy's, Burger King, and McDonalds? Perception--and often the perceptions, positive or negative are shaped by little things, and little things can make a big difference.

Is Krispy Kreme better than Dunkin Donuts? Yes--and no. Depending on who you ask, what they want, and sometimes what part of the country you are in.

The real point is whether you are business-to-business or business-to-consumer, business perceptions are critically important. And fixing the broken windows that shape your particular customer's view of you, will go a long way to helping you have the position, sales, and profits that you want in your industry.

Armchair Interviews says: The point of the book is not rocket science. It is simple truth that can create enormous leverage and results if it is energetically and consistently applied.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The Little Things Aren't So Little 20 mai 2009
Par bronx book nerd - Publié sur Amazon.com
Michael Levine delivers an important message to business owners large and small. He applies to the business world the crime control "broken windows" theory that correcting small problems prevents larger ones . Broken windows in business - peeling paint, poor customer service, difficult-to-navigate web sites - will inevitably result in negative impressions, degrading word-of-mouth stories and, worst of all, a loss of customers. According to Levine, business owner and managers will need to develope an obsessive-compulsive disorder to adequately prevent and address broken windows, by constantly thinking about and acting on this issue. In addition, Levine strongly recommends that business leaders ocassionaly join the front lines to experience actual customer interactions as well as fund mystery shopper efforts to get an honest appraisal of the customer service experience. Levine is on the mark as we can all probably recall "little things" that kept us from returning to a place of business - a rude receptionist, a dirty bathroom, for example -and how we come back to places that get it right.
3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This is exactly opposite of what is being taught to MBA's in universities! 29 décembre 2005
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Traditional wisdom focuses on the 80/20 rule. Major in the majors.

The problem with that thinking is the little things get neglected... and neglect, in any form, affects the organization in a downward spiral.

Levine's premise is brilliant: What you pay attention to determines what you miss.

If you only "focus" on the majors, you neglect the minors, and the neglect of the minors is a path to organizational demise.

Essentially, Levine is "challenging" the 80/20 MBA B.S., and invoking a new mantra, which I will call the "100/0" rule... EVERYTHING MATTERS!

Too many managers are trained, like dogs, to robotically look at spreadsheets, and number crunch, at a quantitative level... which, of course, numbers do matter.

Levine's emphasis is to get beyond just the numbers, open your eyes, and LOOK, really NOTICE the details, because it doesn't matter what your current numbers show, if you are missing the big picture called CUSTOMER PERCEPTION!

Quality doesn't show up in the spreadsheets, but, instead, it is reflected by what your customers are TRYING to tell you. Are you listening? Are you paying attention?

I recently had an incident with Verizon. without going into details, they weren't listening to me. Instead, they were a "broken record" as to why I was raising my voice. All I wanted was to be treated like a human being. I wanted them to do what they promised me. They didn't. They didn't treat me with integrity.

SO, guess what? I FIRED THEM! I now have a cable modem, VOIP phone service, and the peace of mind that comes from empowerment.

Not listening to a customer is a broken window. Not acting with integrity is a broken window.

All businesses have customers, and if you don't fix your broken windows, you may face a "customer mass exodus", and find yourself out of business! Verizon? Are you listening?

This book has an important message. EVERYTHING matters, especially the details.

If you are in ANY kind of business, I recommend you get this book immediately.

What you pay attention to determines what you miss. Don't miss this book.

Get it today.
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