Discovering the Soul of Service

Discovering the Soul of Service

The Nine Drivers of Sustainable Business Success

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In a world where customers regard flawless products as a given, service is the key differentiator between competitors in any field. This wise and inspiring book by Leonard Berry, our leading service expert, moves far beyond his pioneering work in services marketing and service quality to explain how great service companies meet their toughest challenge: sustaining long-term success.
From Berry's exacting study of fourteen mature, highly successful, labor-intensive companies comes an astonishing revelation: the single most important factor in building a lasting service business is not a matter of savvy business practice, but of humane values. In all fourteen award-winning companies -- Bergstrom Hotels, The Charles Schwab Corporation, Chick-fil-A, The Container Store, Custom Research Inc., Dana Commercial Credit, Dial-A-Mattress, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Midwest Express Airlines, Miller SQA, Special Expeditions, St. Paul Saints, USAA, and Ukrop's Super Markets -- values-driven leadership connects with strategic focus, executional excellence, control of destiny, trust-based relationships, generosity, investment in employee success, acting small, and brand cultivation to drive customer satisfaction, innovation, and growth. Dedicating a chapter to each of these nine drivers, this book is the most far-reaching and insightful vision ever presented of the principles and step-by-step actions that continuously bring success to life in a company.
Berry's comprehensive model reveals the soul that underlies the strategies and day-to-day operations of great service companies, guiding the thousands of daily decisions of individual employees. Clear, compelling, pathbreaking, Discovering the Soul of Service is essential reading for managers everywhere.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684845111 | 
  • February 1999
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Read an Excerpt

SUSTAINING SUCCESS IN SERVICE COMPANIES
A customer, recovering from knee surgery and walking with a cane, was Christmas shopping. When the customer asked for an item in most stores, the salesperson would point and say disinterestedly, "Over there." However, the customer's experience was different at The Container Store. After determining the product the customer wanted, the salesperson replied, "It's in the back of the store. I'll go get it for you." Before the salesperson returned, two other salespeople cheerfully asked the customer if they could be of service.
Another customer of The Container Store completed her purchase of multiple... see more

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Group Questions
1. What does it mean to be a service company? Is your organization a service company? Are you a service provider?
2. Like money in a bank, values are the company's treasure. What are your company's core values and how do they compare with those values discussed in the book? How can an organization acquire such values?
3. What does "values-driven leadership" really mean? How can values-driven leadership actuate sustainable service success? How can a company's leadership articulate, cultivate, and reinforce organizational values?
4. What are the common traits of an excellent core strategy? Should an organization's core strategies ever change? How does an organization know what to preserve and what to change? What does "listening for innovation," mean?
5. How do great service companies control their destiny? What are the advantages and disadvantages privately held companies have in controlling their destiny? How can public companies sustain control of the business?
6. Why are trust-based relationships important in success sustainability? How can organizations build trust with customers, employees, business partners, and shareholders? What level of trust does your organization have with each of these constituents?
7. What does the author mean when he discusses investing in employees' success? Is this a practiced approach in your company? What implications do these employee investments have on the future success see more

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