Corrections or additions?
Customer Service: Not a Mystery
Mystery shopping is no mystery, says Mark Csordos,
founder and president of C&S Mystery Shoppers Inc., a customer service
consulting company in East Brunswick (732-432-5533, E-mail:
"Mystery shoppers pose as customers and formally rate their
experiences. Companies use mystery shopping to get an objective view
of their customer service."
Is customer service so important that you need to hire another company
to grade your company? Apparently so. Research has shown that
only five percent more customers, can make up to a 75 percent
in profits. Customers are delighted with great service. Delighted
customers are loyal and loyal customers increase profits.
Csordos speaks on customer service Thursday, January 21, at 7 p.m.
at Encore Books in the Princeton Shopping Center. Call 609-252-0608.
He will offer tips on how you can turn good service into great
handling complaints, and how to provide great service online.
His comments are included in the book "Celebrate Customer
edited by business writer Rick Crandall. Csordos, along with
10 other experts, discuss the value of customer service, service
and how to implement great service. Published by Select Press, the
book is priced at $14.95.
Another meeting on this topic, sponsored by the International Customer
Service Association, will present Robert G. Maher speaking on
"Customer Service: the Need for a Process Focus," at the
Airport Marriott on the same day, Thursday, January 21, at 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $50. Call Bruce Silverman at 973-285-4141.
"All companies already have mystery shoppers," says Csordos,
"but most of them never give you feedback. Every customer who
deals with you is making his or her own mental ratings of your
When employees know a customer might be turning in a written
of their performance, it is only natural that they try harder."
Csordos has a degree in communications from Rutgers and has been
in the New York Times, Vogue, and Business Start Ups. He has appeared
on the national radio program "Shopping Smart" with Phil
Lempert. His clients include firms in the grocery, banking, hotel,
and restaurant industries, including ShopRite, Pizza Hut, and the
New Jersey State Lottery.
In the past mystery shopping was sometimes used to find out what
were doing wrong. It is more sophisticated today and many companies
use mystery shopping to find out what employees are doing right, says
Csordos. "The data mystery shoppers provide can be used as an
objective way to reward employees, as well as to uncover problems
in your operation. The reports can be used as a training device to
help train new employees to avoid common mistakes made in the
You can also use mystery shoppers to evaluate your competitors and
benchmark yourself against them. Csordos suggests asking your
to shop your competitors. "They will have unique insights about
customer interactions and if they can help create the forms they are
rated and rewarded on they will be less suspicious of the
A good mystery shopping program is one where everyone in the company
knows what is going on and why, says Csordos. The only mystery is
the exact time at which it’s being done and by whom. The mystery
could be a college student, a mother of two, or a senior citizen.
Besides making in-person visits, mystery shoppers can be used on the
phone, online, or any other way a customer might interact with you.
Csordos lists some good and bad service received by actual mystery
shoppers. Good service:
For example, "Can I return an item from Store A to Store B?"
This costs relatively little money, but creates a lot of good will.
are given a substitution for a comparable item instead of a rain check
or being told, "Sorry, we’re out."
or rain checks to prevent customers from shopping at that store.
while they are waiting on customers. (This is a frequent experience.)
while waiting on customers.
asking if there is any more of an item is, "If it’s not on the
shelf, we don’t have it."
at each other down one of the aisles. A customer was splashed with
Csordos. A good company guarantees its work and checks its customer
service. "If their customer service isn’t good, how can they help
you improve yours? In this case, you are the customer and they have
to meet your needs."
Great customer service is a key differentiation in attracting
and mystery shopping is a tool to deliver great service, says Csordos.
"Studies show that 96 percent of dissatisfied customers never
complain, they just never return. Providing great customer service
is what keeps customers from coming back."
— Teena Chandy
If you are going to make a talk, your most likely
is that you will try to tell everything you know instead of gearing
everything to the listener’s interests. "It is your presentation,
but it is all about them," says Sallie Goodman, founder
of Public Presentations Inc. "Gear the message to the specific
Goodman will give one of the workshop sessions for "Community
Works," the convention for volunteers organized by Marge Smith
of Community Works and sponsored by the Rotary Club of Princeton on
Thursday, January 28, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Princeton University’s
Wilson School. The cost is $20 including the box supper. Each
attends two workshops: Register with your first three choices of
by January 23. Send checks to Rotary Club, 283 Nassau Street,
08540, or call 609-924-8652 for information.
Wayne Meisel of the Bonner Foundation has the keynote address.
The workshops include: "The ABCs of Building a Team" and
Do You Need the Money?" Barbara Blumenthal teaches
Planning for Boards and Organizations" and Smith leads
with Volunteer Boards." Linda Meisel, formerly of Corner House,
discusses how to maximize the effectiveness of volunteers.
Nancy Kieling of Princeton Area Community Foundation and a panel
of seven tell how to access foundation and corporate funding. On the
panel are Tom Borden of the Mary Owen Borden Foundation, Mark
Murphy of the Fund for New Jersey, Dianne Vatalero of
Reinsurance, Barbara Rambo of First Union Regional Foundation,
and Debra Perez of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s local health
initiatives program. "Planning a Successful Fund Raiser" is
the topic for Andy Armstrong of the Eden Institute and Anne
Borella, immediate past president of the Rotary Club, Princeton
"Public Relations is the Key to Visibility" will be addressed
by Pam Hersh, former editor of the Princeton Packet, now with
Princeton University, Barbara Fox of U.S. Newspaper, and
Harris of cable television. Tom Sullivan of Princeton
teaches "Marketing: Can You Afford Not To?"
Goodman is an actress, director, and teacher who trained at the Royal
Academy of Dramatic Arts, had a career in the theater and television,
and opened her business in Princeton in 1984. She coaches corporate
and private clients and provide videotapes to each. "The reason
people don’t have the message clear is that they are not aware of
what they can cut out, so they ramble," says Goodman. "I have
found that as the delivery improves, the message improves."
homework, says Goodman. "If you have something worthwhile telling,
you sell it differently to different kinds of customers."
might be interested in this," or "If you are interested in
saving money, this is a good way." Saying the "you" word
lets people believe that you understand their interests and understand
their worries. You are "playing" to peoples’ self interest.
"You can be very nervous, but if you acquire the skills of
speaking the audience doesn’t know you are nervous," says Goodman.
fright is something everybody has. If you identify with your fright,
you are likely to talk in a monotone or talk too fast to cover up
the nervousness. "You don’t identify with your fear any more than
you identify with your headache," she says, "You can have
a headache and make a good speech. It is a retraining of the thought
tapes: "Will I do a good job? Do I look all right? Will I remember
everything?" Instead, let these tapes run through your head: "I’m
here to give you some good news. I really care about you."
person, you will overcome your fright.
Do you need to know the latest legal requirements for
a home health provider corporate compliance plan? Or what to do when
the Federal Office of Health and Human Services shows up at your door
with a subpoena?
If you are associated with a home health provider or consult for one,
you may be interested in a "nuts and bolts" seminar organized
by the Tamborlane & Printz law firm on Friday, January 22, from 8:30
a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the New Jersey Hospital Association, 760
Road. Cost: $60. Call 908-789-7977 for information.
Providers of home health care services face an ever more complex array
of federal and state requirements that call for strict compliance
and carry severe penalties for non-compliance. Attendees will gain
practical guidance on their legal, operational, reporting, and audit
The kinds of care that are provided in the home setting include
nursing services. Once the patient’s home health care needs are
by a nurse, the care plan can call for the administration of IV drugs,
arranging for a home health aide for assistance in getting in and
out of bed, and buying or renting durable medical equipment such as
For the uninitiated, corporate compliance is a term that has evolved
over the past few years that describes directives from the United
States Office of the Inspector General (OIG) out of the Department
of Health and Human Services for any agency or company that provides
home care services. These directives tell home health providers what
the government expects them to have in place to ensure proper patient
billing services and to prevent fraud, abuse or waste.
"The government’s scrutiny of the billing and operational
of these home health providers followed the growth of the home health
care industry over the last five years, which has meant more money
being drawn down out of federal and state coffers in the form of
Medicare program and the state Medicaid programs," says
(Theo) A. Tamborlane, a principal at Tamborlane and Printz in
"The OIG is not looking for just paper compliance, they want to
see that the company audits billing and operational practices and
then — based on those audits — takes steps to correct the
problem," says Tamborlane. "OIG is looking for problems in
a number of areas: billing for services not rendered, billing for
unnecessary services, duplicate billing, falsification of records
(nursing notes or medical plans of care), type of admission and
insufficient documentation — if the agency is operating in a joint
venture with physicians — and if so, are the physicians getting
any form of kickback."
OIG requires a home health agency to have a "top down and bottom
up" program and everyone within the agency — from a nurse
to a receptionist to the billing clerk — must participate in a
training program, at a minimum of once a year. The training program
focuses what the company is doing in regards to fraud and abuse and
continual corporate compliance.
According to Tamborlane, one of the most interesting aspects of the
program will be a discussion on what to do when you get a call from
a state or federal agency or if they arrive at your doorstep to do
an audit. James Vaules, director of government relations at
the National Fraud Center, will lead this seminar segment. One likely
point of discussion: Do you have to have to let federal or state
in if they show up as your door?
The answer is "yes" if they have a search warrant but not
necessarily if they have only a subpoena.
The result of an audit is a report that may in turn result in a
or a search warrant. "In reality this is happening nationwide
to many agencies as the OIG and other federal and state agencies go
forward with their investigations of home care," says Tamborlane.
"Over the past five years the federal government poured millions
of dollars into their fraud and abuse detection programs and they
now are linked to the state agencies so that many times there will
be joint investigations."
Making sure individual staff members know what to do in the event
a search warrant is served is very important. "You want to train
your people, particularly your front desk staff, to know who to call
immediately and how to respond," said Tamborlane. "If a
person walks into the office and says `get up from your desk and walk
across the room and don’t move’ the office staff person should ask
`May I please see a search warrant and your identification’."
This happened to Cathedral Hospital in Newark several years ago.
(federal agents) walked in with search warrants and the employees
got up from their desks, went into a different room and they took
out computers and everything," said Tamborlane.
Tamborlane’s law firm partner, Rebecca Printz, will participate
in the seminar as will Joseph Aiello, a home care administrator
for 20 years, who will describe the "how to" of operational
compliance focusing on nursing practices and billing procedures. Also
presenting will be Richard Serluco CPA, who will provide
procedures relative to cost reports and intermediary audits.
Tamborlane, 56, graduated summa cum laude from Drew University with
a BA in political science, holds an MPA degree in human resources
management from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a law degree from
Seton Hall. Prior to founding the law firm in 1989, she was of counsel
with Riker Danzig Scherer and Hyland. She has been deputy attorney
general assigned to the New Jersey Department of Health and a law
clerk with the United States Attorney’s office.
Tamborlane hopes that seminar attendees come away from the program
with the realization that home care providers must do two things:
the government, are now asking to see corporate compliance plans as
a prerequisite for insurance reimbursement.
to your company since no two home health companies are the same.
are professionals out there who can help them both initially and on
an ongoing basis.
— Jeff Lippincott
Look twice before you pay too much for postage. Yes,
the price of the first stamp went up by a penny. But the price for
a two-ounce letter remains the same, and any other first-class letter
is now less expensive than before.
For example, the three-ounce letter was 78 cents and is now 77 cents.
Five ounces was $1.24 and is now $1.21. Seven ounces is now $1.65
but had been a nickel more. And 11 ounces is $2.53 but used to be
Nevertheless, priority mail has had a big increase. You used to pay
$3 for up to two pounds, and now it is $3.20. For each pound you pay
10 cents more than before. A package of four to five pounds costs
If you think advertising on television is outrageously
expensive, and your business needs the advertising, you can choose
another medium that can be just as effective. The ubiquitous radio.
And considering how busy people are these days and the time everybody
spends on the road, your radio audience could be just as big as your
television audience. All you have to do is make them listen.
The Studio by MDL Inc. at 210 Scotch Road, Trenton 08628
fax, 609-631-0177) was founded in 1997 and moved to this location
late last year. It is the only commercial facility within a 50-mile
radius from Trenton, claims Dave Micanko, president.
Almost any product that can be advertised on television can be
on the radio, says Micanko. "What matters is quality." Micanko
notes that the radio is being used more than television in this area.
Most consumer and service-based products can be advertised on the
radio, he says. Exceptions would be niche products such as new
and transportation businesses.
The studio does commercial recording for television, radio,
corporate commercials, and music, analog and digital. Bobbie
the manager, is chiefly responsible for production. Jones and Micanko
write, record, and produce for their clients, which include radio
stations, advertising agencies, and film makers. Simple radio
may be completed in a week, but working on big budget accounts can
take six months to a year.
Micanko, the owner, is an alumnus of Mercer Community College’s
program. Jones, who went to Trenton State, comes from an engineering
background and has been in the commercial recording field for about
a decade. A musician himself, Jones has four albums to his credit.
Background music, animation, etc. are some of the tools used to grab
the attention of the listener or viewer, which is the whole purpose
of advertising. Budweiser, says Jones, made a whole line of ads with
a frog, and everybody’s talking about it. It all depends on "what
you say and how you say it."
— Teena Chandy
Different software development teams can now share
because the symbols used in their models and the semantics of those
symbols is consistent. The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is the
new standard for object-and component-based analysis and design of
software systems. Lou Varveris and George Leibman will
discuss UML in a joint meeting of the Princeton ACM/IEEE on Thursday,
January 21, at 8 p.m. at the Sarnoff Center. The meeting is free;
students accompanied by parents are welcome. A dinner with the
will be at 6 p.m. at the Rusty Scupper. Reservations are needed for
the dinner. Call 609-924-8704 for information.
Varveris majored in engineering at the College of Staten Island and
has a master’s with graduate engineering work in communication theory,
from Polytechnic University. He has worked at Unisys and is now
manager for object technologies at Popkin Software.
Leibman majored in mathematics at MIT and has a master’s from
University. He has done graduate work in database theory at Harvard
University and is getting his PhD in math from CUNY Graduate Center.
He has worked in Handwriting Recognition at IBM’s Watson Research
Center, and developed real-time retail pricing display systems.
implements object and component-based technology at Popkin Software.
They will explain UML notation and semantics, why UML is useful, what
problems it introduces, and how it integrates with other
They will also show how a leading modeling tool vendor has implemented
UML, both semantically and notationally, to provide better insight
Learn about how to save money on your company’s electric
bill at a conference on deregulation sponsored by the New Jersey
Council (NJTC) on Thursday, January 21, at 8 a.m. at the Princeton
Plasma Physics Lab. Choose from six forums for $200.
The conference, entitled "Where Utilities, Communications, and
Deregulation Converge," will include topics such as Communications
Technology and Utility Industry Restructuring, Impact of Electric
Utility Restructuring on Telecommunications Industry, Role of the
Advanced Customer Communications Systems in the Deregulated Energy
Market, Competition in Utility Metering and Billing Systems (Lessons
Learned from California and the UK), Regulatory Issues, Technology
and Software Issues Related to the Utility Industry.
Learn how to get money for your company at a Capital Conference, also
sponsored by the NJTC, at the New Jersey Hospital Association on
January 29, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost: $140. Scott Baxter,
president and CEO of Icon CMT Corp., will give the keynote. Panels
will address state tax credits, private equity, sales and mergers
as exit strategies, IPO outlook, financing technology companies,
by acquisition, and joint ventures/strategic partnering.
Caren Franzini, executive director of New Jersey Economic
Authority, moderates a panel with Michael Batelli of Arthur
Andersen; Lee Evans of the New Jersey Division of Taxation;
Pat Lang, CFO of Sensar; and David Shipley of Dechert
Price & Rhoads.
John Martinson of the Edison Venture Fund discusses private
equity with Victor Boyajian of Sills Cummis et al, Gerard
DiFiore of Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, Perry Pappas of Buchanan
Ingersoll, and Ned Prentice of BT Alex Brown.
Exiting via a sale or merger is the topic for John Aiello of
Giordano Halleran & Ciesla, along with Brendan Gougher of
James Hunter of Janney Montgomery Scott, and W. David
of Bowthorpe Inc. Buchanan Ingersoll’s David Sorin tells about
IPOs with Brian Hughes of Arthur Andersen, Mark
of NationsBanc Montgomery Securities, David Proctor of Janney
Montgomery Scott, and Tom Werthan, CFO of Emcore.
Mike Nelson, executive vice president of PNC, tells how to
technology companies with the help of Progress Bank’s Steven
and Silicon Valley Bank’s Ash Lilani. Steven Cohen of
Morgan Lewis & Bockus plus Jeffrey Dunne of
cover growth by acquisition. James Marino of Dechert Price &
Rhoads talks about joint ventures and strategic partnering with
from two pharmaceutical firms, Ronald Pepin of Bristol-Myers
Squibb and Lewis J. Shuster of Pharmacopeia.
To register for either conference call 609-452-1010.
Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) is offering
an insurance option in Business Management this spring. This new
is the result of a collaboration between RVCC and representatives
from the Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey, Chubb Group of
Insurance Companies, Hunterdon County Polytech, and Thomas Edison
State College. The degree includes specialized courses in property
and liability insurance, personal insurance, commercial insurance,
sales agency management, and multiple lines in insurance production.
Java, Internet Navigation, and Global Patterns of Racism, through
the Internet this spring. To participate in this Web-based course,
students must have a personal computer with access to the World Wide
Web, a browser, and the ability to send and receive E-mail. To find
out about on-line courses, E-mail:
or call 908-231-8819.
Spring semester begins Wednesday, January 20. Late registration
to Tuesday, January 26. Call 908-218-8861.
Bristol-Myers Squibb is donating $500,000 over a
period to establish a fellowship program at Rutgers’ College of
that will allow graduate students to conduct cutting-edge research
and work with the company’s scientists. The Bristol-Myers Fellowship
Program in Pharmaceutics will fund one post-doctoral and two
fellowships annually for students interested in conducting
research. Pharmaceutics involves the development of innovative and
more efficient delivery systems for new drugs.
Pharmaceutics is a highly competitive field, and there is a great
demand for graduates who are trained in modern pharmaceutics research,
says John L. Colaizzi, dean of the College of Pharmacy. "We
are very excited about the Bristol-Myers Squibb Fellowship program,
because it will help us to continue to attract the very best students
from throughout the nation and support them in a way that best
their education and research progress." Bristol-Myers Squibb
will have the opportunity to conduct research, gain high-tech skills
and interact closely with scientists at one of the nation’s leading
research based pharmaceutical companies.
"These fellowships are an expression of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s
recognition of the importance of drug delivery research and will
a steady stream of well-trained research scientists in this area,"
says Kenneth Weg, B-MS executive vice president. The fellowships
are renewable annual appointments and candidates will be selected
based on prior academic achievement, involvement in professional
and leadership potential.
The pharmaceutics department, established in 1985, conducts from $1
to $2 million in research annually. Current initiatives include
new methods to improve vaccine effectiveness and delivery; identifying
enzymes that can enhance the performance of medications used to treat
cancer and AIDS; and isolating specific genes that could be used to
deliver drug therapy into the body to treat ovarian and breast cancer.
Lions Clubs worldwide support efforts to improve sight.
For the northeast, George Johnson, 609-882-3332, is in charge
of collecting used eyeglasses and processing them for clubs located
from Maine through Maryland.
Glasses may be donated to drop-off points hosted by the club or to
the Lenscrafters location at MarketFair. Glasses are processed at
the Katzenbach School in Trenton and by inmates at Avenel and are
sent to such countries as Bolivia, Mexico, San Domingo, and the
Volunteers are needed at the recycling center at the Katzenbach School
to process these glasses on Fridays at 6 p.m. on January 29, February
26, and March 26. The center has processed more than a million
Stanley Pukash is in charge of the New Jersey Lions Eye Bank
(908-879-6591) and George Vinci is president of the Delaware
Valley Lions Eye Bank. The eye banks seek donated eye tissue and
corneas for transplant — corneas are available in New Jersey for
those in need. For information on the Lions, call 800-554-6675.
The Mercer County Writers’ Collective has updated its
free directory of professional writers, "Pens for Hire: the
of Professional Writers."
The collective will not admit fledgling writers looking for guidance,
nor does it include those who write only fiction. "Our collective
includes a diverse group of nonfiction freelance writers, including
authors, journalists, editors, and public relations specialists who
have been meeting monthly since January, 1997," says Robin
K. Levinson, founder of the group and formerly the health columnist
at the Times of Trenton. "If you are looking for a wordsmith to
pen your biography, corporate communications expert to write your
press release or brochure, or a top-flight journalist to write stories
for your newspaper, magazine, or newsletter, you have come to the
The directory includes one-page biographical sketches of members with
specialties ranging from business, finance, and health, to travel,
parenting, psychology, education, and entertainment. For a free copy
of the directory call Marie Recine at 609-584-7724 or E-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on joining the group call
at 609-584-9330 or E-mail: email@example.com. Websites
are at http://www.trampsteamer.com/mcwc or
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.