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Canton Repository Article
Focusing on the customer
Monday, January 21, 2002

By JAN H. KENNEDY Repository staff writer

CANTON -- First Canton, then Ohio — can Bratislava be far behind

Darryl Doane and Rose Sloat founded The Learning Service Ltd. on Aug. 1, 1996. They contract with companies to train employees in customer relations, and relationships between employee and client and employee to employee.

“The object is to train employees to know as much about their customer as the customer knows about themselves,” Doane said. “So many managers tell us they are constantly putting out fires. Knowing the client’s needs and goals allows you to predict what they need next and be a step ahead of them. You become so valuable they can’t afford to go to someone else.”
Doane and Sloat met while working at the Applied Industrial Technologies office in Cleveland, formerly called Bearings. They worked together seven years in the corporate training department. When they left to start their own business, Applied became one of their first clients.

Work soon followed for Danner Press and two of its sister divisions.

“They were right on target with real life examples,” said Diane Erickson, customer service manager. “They tailored the training to what our needs were, which I think made it very successful. They also made it fun for the participants.”

Then Goodyear, Liquid Control and the Timken Co. came calling. Jerry Rodak, manager of operations development in roller and cage manufacturing at Timken, was in one of the classes.

“I’ve since sent employees to off-site seminars they conduct for effective listening skills, and the feedback has always been very good,” he said. “We’re thinking of bringing them back again in the near future.”

Their sphere of influence stretched beyond Ohio in 1999 with the publication of their “New Sales Game.”

“It’s a sales program that recognizes it is the customer’s view of reality that is important,” Doane said. “The goal of the program is to realize that in order to survive, companies have to go beyond providing service. They have to provide solutions for their customers, build customer-responsive relationships.”

Repository / Michael S. Balash

TOOLS FOR SUCCESS. Darryl S. Doane and Rose D. Sloat, co-owners of The Learning Service Ltd. in Canton, display their new book and other materials they use in their corporate training business. The book is one more tool they use to make employees more aware of ways to service their company’s clients.

The focus group is sales representatives, district and regional managers, upper management and others who need to realize that the customer must become the center of their organization. The program helps differentiate between “order-taking” mentality and “business-responsive partnership” mentality.

The program includes study aid and follow-up exercises. Doane and Sloat can come in to teach the course, or companies can purchase the program and set up their own seminars.

Their newest product is a book called “Excuses, Excuses, Excuses ... For Not Delivering Excellent Customer Service — and What Should Happen!”

Doane and Sloat are scheduled for a book signing night at Borders Books & Music on The Strip on Feb. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The book is available at Borders and should be in other bookstores soon.

“Clients get tired of excuses for not getting good service, so we wrote the book and listed 118 commonly heard excuses, followed by what should have happened,” Sloat said. “You often hear, ‘The computer’s down.’ Does that mean business comes to an end? What can you do then?”

Much of the concept is to tap into the experiences and abilities of everyone in the office. Here is an example taken from the book:

Excuse 9: “We don’t have it in inventory.”

What should have happened? “Let me check on that for you and I’ll get right back to you.” Or, “Would you care to hold?”
Insight: If it is a service you say you provide, you need to provide it. Here is where your team can play a critical role. “I” may not have the answer to the situation, but “we” have the answer. Tap the knowledge and resources of all the members of your team to resolve the situation.

A new book, “Find Your Place to Stand and Build the Right Future,” is 90 percent complete. It is larger and geared to the general public as a journal of self-discovery.

Doane and Sloat traveled to Marysville on Jan. 11 to talk with executives of Honda America.

“They are particularly interested in our diversity training,” Doane said.

Bratislava could be their next major trip. It came about in an unexpected way. It started with an invitation to the opening of the Slovak Republic Embassy in Washington, D.C., on June 20.

“The invitation came through an acquaintance of ours, Edward Keshock, a professor at Cleveland State University and the honorary consul in the United States representing Ohio,” Doane said. “He had showed our products to the Slovaki officials; now, they are interested in having us come to Bratislava to conduct training to people in leadership roles in various corporations. Those people then will train others.”

They expect to hear from Slovak Republic officials in time for a trip late this spring or summer.

So, what is next?

“Training cruises, probably in the Caribbean,” Sloat said. “We will offer two-, three-, five- or seven-day programs. That’s a very exciting learning experience, plus, you’re in paradise. We’re working now with a couple of travel agents to set them up.”

Darryl S. Doane and Rose D. Sloat, Managing Partners • The Learning Service, 2800 Market Avenue North, Suite 21, Canton, Ohio 44714

Ph: 330-456-2422 = Fax: 330-456-8944 = Email: info@thelearningservice.com