Uncommon Service Blog

Thursday, February 25, 2010
What happened at Toyota? Mr. Toyoda himself summed it up nicely, as the NYT recently reported.  In a nutshell, Toyota thrived when it focused on improvement. When that focus shifted to growth the company ran into serious trouble: In his prepared testimony, released on Tuesday, Mr. Toyoda said he... more ►

Saturday, February 20, 2010
Are you buying your customers or truly winning them over?  Whether you grow organically or by acquisition can matter a great deal to long-term performance.  This is not always obvious in the way we evaluate managers -- growth is growth inside the culture of many organizations, and so managers on a... more ►

Monday, February 15, 2010
I had an unfortunate service experience recently involving Boston Coach, or more specifically, a Boston Coach affiliate.  Boston Coach is a car service known for its national network of premium taxi services.  I get tremendous value out of the service when I travel for work, as I often end up in... more ►

Thursday, January 28, 2010
I recently discussed Google's response to the service demands on its new Android phone.  Google has prided itself on excellence, but has come up short with the Android offering, where hands-on service is a critical part of getting it right.  As I wrote in that post, the phone needs a different kind... more ►

Friday, January 22, 2010
In a recent NYT interview Tony Hsieh (pronounced "shay"), CEO of Zappos, described his management priorities in this order:  culture first, service second.  This may come as a surprise to anyone who has first-hand experience with the Zappos service model, which consistently produces excellence at... more ►

Saturday, January 16, 2010
The NYT recently described Google’s customer service supporting its new Android phone.  The article described how customers can't call Google for help and that it may take up to 48 hours for the company to respond to email messages.  The article referenced one customer who has been trying for a... more ►

Saturday, December 12, 2009
Elizabeth Weil – who is now working on a “memoir about marriage improvement” called No Cheating, No Dying – wrote a riveting piece for the New York Times Magazine about trying to improve her own relatively functional marriage.  The project occurred to her when she realized how little conscious... more ►

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The title is from the opening pages of the Cleveland Clinic's Annual Report, which quotes Dr. Rene Favaloro:  "the patient is not only an illness, he has a soul."  I came across the quote as I watched my colleague, Ananth Raman, teach a class in our Achieving Breakthrough Service executive... more ►

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This is an excerpt form a NYT Q&A with Harvard University President Drew Faust.  In my experience, the well-intentioned quest to make employees and customers happy can often lead an organization astray.  It sounds paradoxical, but essentially... The specific question and answer are repeated... more ►

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Antarctic explorers have discovered two crates of Scotch trapped in the ice, which Sir Ernest Shackleton abandoned during his disastrous attempt to cross the frozen continent in 1909. The bottles are appropriate artifacts of his exceptional leadership instincts. The journey never should have been... more ►

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I had the rare pleasure of spending a weekend in Bermuda with six talented and dynamic friends.  Our ambitions vary widely at this point in our lives, despite the similarity of our professional DNA (we all met as thirtysomething women at Harvard Business School). Some of us are gunning for top... more ►

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Amy Wallace of the NY Times just offered up a rambling, poetic tribute to Cesar Millan, better known as the “Dog Whisperer,” for the NY Times business section.  Millan has an extraordinary personal story.  He was a poor kid from rural Mexico who crossed the border illegally and now presides over a... more ►

Friday, October 9, 2009
The NYT reported that the board of GM wanted the culture of the organization to change: In the interim, Mr. Henderson stressed that G.M.’s new board was pushing management to speed up decisions on new products and install a culture devoted to pleasing customers. I'm not optimistic. The first red... more ►

Saturday, October 3, 2009
As I read a WSJ article on the European grocer Asda's new customer loyalty program, I was impressed to be learning about an actual loyalty program.   Most organizations create customer retention programs and then mistakenly call them loyalty programs.  This wouldn't be a big deal, except that a... more ►

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
A "self-service" play almost always has a strong cost component.  The model's logic is that if your customers are doing more of the work, then your employees can do less of it -- and can be paid less for it.    Of course, firms look for additional advantages to customers meeting their own needs... more ►