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Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business [Kindle Edition]

Frances Frei , Anne Morriss
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Print List Price: $32.00
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Book Description

Most companies treat service as a low-priority business operation, keeping it out of the spotlight until a customer complains. Then service gets to make a brief appearance – for as long as it takes to calm the customer down and fix whatever foul-up jeopardized the relationship.

In Uncommon Service, Frances Frei and Anne Morriss show how, in a volatile economy where the old rules of strategic advantage no longer hold true, service must become a competitive weapon, not a damage-control function. That means weaving service tightly into every core decision your company makes.

The authors reveal a transformed view of service, presenting an operating model built on tough choices organizations must make:

How do customers define “excellence” in your offering? Is it convenience? Friendliness? Flexible choices? Price?

How will you get paid for that excellence? Will you charge customers more? Get them to handle more service tasks themselves?

How will you empower your employees to deliver excellence? What will your recruiting, selection, training, and job design practices look like? What about your organizational culture?

How will you get your customers to behave? For example, what do you need to do to get them to treat your employees with respect? Do you need to make it easier for them to use new technology?

Practical and engaging, Uncommon Service makes a powerful case for a new and systematic approach to service as a means of boosting productivity, profitability, and competitive advantage.

Editorial Reviews


“This book is a practical guide for leaders who want to use service to strategically differentiate their companies from the competition.” — Jeff Toister, CustomerThink (

“Anne Morriss and Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei make the counterintuitive, but compelling argument that true success for service businesses requires that you give up on being perfect; that you make some tradeoffs.” — Business Insider (

“Morriss and Frei have a powerful and surprising answer…” —

“The book was uncommonly excellent. Very straightforward and to the point. Frei and Morriss uncover four basic truths about customer service, discuss the important ingredient of culture and provide guidance on how companies can scale to get bigger.” — Stan Phelps, CustomerThink (

“In this upbeat and highly readable book, the authors isolate four “service truths” that companies must understand…” — BizEd magazine

“The book is full of case studies showing how companies have harnessed their strengths but cut corners elsewhere, in pursuit of the ultimate goal: excellent service.” — South Africa Financial Mail

“I found Uncommon Service to be a refreshing, frank and honest look at how any organization can increase profitability, satisfaction and competitive advantage by delivering consistently outstanding service.” — American Express Open Forum

About the Author

Frances Frei is UPS Foundation Professor of Service Management at Harvard Business School, where she developed the school’s successful Managing Service Operations course. Anne Morriss is the Managing Director of the Concire Leadership Institute, a consulting firm that helps leaders to surface and remove performance barriers.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1207 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (January 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422142361
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422142363
  • ASIN: B006VFJK5Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,242 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I was an MBA student at Harvard Business School, one of the most difficult classes to get into was Frances Frei's Managing Service Operations elective. I was one of her lucky students, but demand was so high that even those who ranked it as their first choice often failed to win one of the prized seats in the class.

If you read this book, you'll understand why...

Frei is a world-renowned guru in service management and a Harvard teaching legend. In "Uncommon Service," she's partnered with Anne Morriss, a leader in strategy, leadership and institutional change. Together, they distill the principles of service excellence into an intuitive road map that any executive, with the appropriate conviction, can follow to improve customer experiences, and in turn, firm performance. Not a bad value proposition when you think about it - developing a sustainable competitive advantage by making your customers' lives better.

What I loved about the course, and indeed this book, is that it is full of real world examples of service successes and failures, used to masterfully illustrate a system of interconnected design principles that lead to service excellence. The stories are compelling and their implications are clear, and by the time you're finished reading, you'll be able to diagnose what's right, and what's wrong with the service design of your company, as well as those of your competitors.

On their own, the principles of service excellence make "Uncommon Service" a must-have for any entrepreneur interested in deploying a world-class service operation from the ground up. Having been a service entrepreneur myself, this aspect of the book appealed to me deeply.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serving 4 impact March 5, 2012

It is an understatement to claim that technology has revolutionized the way that companies perform. That same technology enables professionals within customer service to develop individualized relationships with customers or pure encounters. Supported by advancements in management science, operations management and maketing, companies are able to improve both profits and financials.

But technology is not the critical success factor. In my opinion, the mindset of meeting the customer demand for great service - and saving money at the save time - is more important.

Frances Frei and Anne Morris wrote a book covering some recommendations how to design customer service.

In UnCommon Service, Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei and coauthor Anne Morriss bring their provocative argument to the table: that companies must dare to be "bad" in order to be great, choosing strategic ways to underperform while fueling a winning service advantage.
The authors claim that uncommon service is created by specific design choices made in the very blueprint of a business model. And it not merely about making customers happy; instead it is about creating an organization where all employees - not just the star performers - provide excellent service as a matter of routine. These outstanding service organizations create offerings, fund strategies, system and cultures that set their people up to excel casually.

The authors claim that they introduce a decidedly fresh view of service. An organizational design model is presented built on tough services one must make about four dimensions of any business.
Frei and Morriss illustrate the power of their approach with examples from a wide array of industries.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pick what you do best and excel at it February 8, 2012
I am an entrepreneur. I make things, create things, and want to bring new ideas and products to people. But I am terrible at managing people. So why would this book help me? Because no matter what you are making, managing, growing or building - you need viewers, customers, loyal followers and this book tells me how to give these integral consumers what they need from me most. You can't do everything brilliantly they tell me. Focus on the service you do best and on what your consumers need from you. The book is easy to digest, clear, decisive and encouraging. Knowing these two authors, and having been lucky enough to get their feedback on my projects, I can say their enthusiasm for building businesses that are cutting edge and lasting makes this book a must read for anyone who wants to see their company, project, film, start-up succeed.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cardinal Work with Practical Insight January 21, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Over the past few years I've read numerous titles in an effort to improve my company's service delivery (titles including Raving Fans, Exceptional Service, Different, CS is Worthless, and many others). I believe each offered unique perspective and in turn anxiously hoped for more of the same with Uncommon Service. Well I just finished my kindle edition of this newcomer and can report being all but floored by this extraordinary work on the service process.
Frei and Morriss tackle the subject with a less conventional look at how the design and execution process can derail even the best intentioned service offerings. With each chapter and telling example F&M regrettably exposed the folly of my own company's continued inability to attain our desired goal of unparallel client service. They explain why service (versus product) offerings so easily devolve into an all but the kitchen sink approach to customers' needs and show how companies can move to a rationalization-based approach while actually improving client satisfaction. After apologizing to my managers I plan to put these transformative ideas to work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Blue Ocean Strategy for Customer Service
If you’ve read Blue Ocean Strategy, you’ll see similar concepts applied in this excellent contribution to furthering the development of customer experience. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Mike Tamayo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Frances Frei is an amazing speaker and writer. Love the book.
Published 2 months ago by Lejoy1
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
? purchased for a friend - no complaints
Published 2 months ago by Critter
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A good read which explores very basic principles about services and helps understand the question " why there is a scope for improvement?"
Published 7 months ago by vaibhav
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 8 months ago by MARIYA Magdeeva
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good tips to improve the bussiness!!!
Published 9 months ago by Jose Javier Garcia Peart
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncommonly Excellent
The book was uncommonly excellent. Very straightforward and to the point. Frei and Morriss uncover four basic truths about customer service, discuss the important ingredient of... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Stanley G. Phelps
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, insightful, well organized, well written
I've read quite a bit about building great customer service organizations. This book asks an interesting question: what are you going to be intentionally bad at in order to get... Read more
Published 17 months ago by scotteweber
4.0 out of 5 stars A non-academically written book by highly qualified academics.
Most firms fail because they try to be all things to all people. This book explains the alternative and gives loads of examples and researched explanations. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Paul Watkins
4.0 out of 5 stars for the entrepreneur that is open to looking within with a critical...
Enjoyed this book and many of the insights shared. Figuring out what your priorities should be and what your priorities, decidedly should not be is so important when building a... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Robin H. Thieme
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