Uncommon Service Blog

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
"…when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.” --Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Mt. Everest This quote opens the HBS case study on Ernest Shackleton and his ill-fated (and badly planned) Antarctic expedition, a case developed by Nancy... more ►

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Embracing the humanity of your customers has another distinct advantage -- customers can also help you run your business. Companies that recognize that their customers are thinking/feeling/doing human beings often learn to work effectively with them to operate and improve organizations.  This has... more ►

Friday, January 23, 2009
It's been an important few days. Let's revisit two key protagonists, Rick Warren and Caroline Kennedy. Caroline has exited, with varying amounts of grace, depending on which version of the story you believe. She decided this was not her moment, likely at the urging of a governor who is very... more ►

Thursday, January 22, 2009
This same type of “calcification,” as you call it, can also creep into attitudes towards employees. Early in my career I worked at a company where there was minimal trust between employees and managers. Someone low in the organizational hierarchy ripped out an ad from a magazine that said, “It’s... more ►

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Political systems are not the only complex systems that can harden themselves against the people they're designed to serve. Companies, too, can become disconnected from the humanity of their customers, often without even realizing it. This makes service difficult to provide, much less service... more ►

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
  Lasantha Wickrematunga   A Sri Lankan journalist is dead, in what appears to be a classic political hit job. Three days before his assassination he wrote his own obituary, which accuses the government of responsibility and searches for meaning in his life and probable death.  The Sunday Leader,... more ►

Saturday, January 17, 2009
  Keep an eye on that Chavez guy. He’s getting poorer and more desperate. Curb the addiction to polls. If you get tempted to relapse, remember how the whole campaign theme song vote turned out. Build on W’s momentum in Africa. Yes, leverage your own celebrity, and remember the celebrity of others... more ►

Thursday, January 15, 2009
Thanks for participating in our leadership soundtrack experiment. We've created a Leadership Soundtrack iMix on iTunes, which includes the full list of everyone's suggestions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
My great concern is not whether you have failed,  but whether you are content with your failure.  - Abraham Lincoln Like everyone else trolling for insight into the President-Elect's political brain, I am joining the District of Columbia in brushing up on my Lincoln studies, starting with David... more ►

Thursday, January 8, 2009
We are looking for examples of exceptional service providers, preferably those with innovative models and/or those that are unheralded in the press. If you have a suggestion, please post as a comment or email me directly ffrei@hbs.edu. Thank you!

Thursday, January 8, 2009
I fought off anxious flashbacks yesterday to the least satisfying meal I've ever exchanged for hard currency. These memories were not a welcome intrusion. We live in complex times. But anxiety is a blunt instrument – it doesn't distinguish between wondering whether the coffee maker is still on and... more ►

Thursday, January 8, 2009
Self-service is very tricky to get right.  My rule of thumb is that self-service excellence needs to be designed such that customers prefer the self-service to a readily available full service alternative. A great example is airline check-in kiosks. When these kiosks first appeared, passengers felt... more ►

Thursday, January 8, 2009
I think Sheryl is too high profile now

Friday, January 2, 2009
In her NYT OpEd, Ann Hood described the declining level of service experienced in-flight. This likely resonates with everyone who has flown consistently over the last ten years. It is also emblematic of a larger decline in service as documented by Business Week, WSJ (August 2006 special section)... more ►

Friday, January 2, 2009
An article on Toyota recently caught my attention. The article discussed how even non-US auto manufactures were cutting back production in the US, and the notable part to me was not the decrease in consumer demand but what Toyota was doing with its newly idle workforce. An accompanying picture... more ►