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Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business Hardcover – February 7, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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...this might be the best book I’ve ever read on achieving service excellence.” — Stan Phelps, CustomerThink (customerthink.com)

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

“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 (businessinsider.com)

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

“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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 51766th edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422133311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422133316
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Buell on January 22, 2012
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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Format: Hardcover
[...]

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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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. Points are illustrated through a number of case studies from the familiar likes of Southwest and Zappos to the more obscure Bugs Burger Bug Killers, Ochsner Health System and LSQ Funding Group.

Key Takeaway #1 – The book’s boldest assertion is that “you must have the courage to be bad . . . in the service of being great.” Figuring out where to place your emphasis is based upon prioritizing the needs of your customers. Be a leader in those areas that are valued and have the moxy to purposely stink in lesser areas.

Sometimes tradeoffs are not merely enough. You need to find ways to deliver the extra service provided. The easiest way is to charge a premium for the extra. Since that’s not always possible, Frei and Morriss offer three different and novel ways to bridge the gap.

Key Takeaway #2 - It is the responsibility of senior management to set their employees and customers up to succeed. This means organizing tasks and processes in a manner that the average employee can deliver upon routinely. Don’t expect your employees to wear a cape. Complexity (especially when IT is involved) is bad … keep it simple stupid.

Employees are only part of the equation, we need to organize our customers to improve service. Enlist them to help the service experience for everyone. You have two options: hire/fire or change the process.

Key Takeaway #3 - Culture not only beats strategy, but culture is the main driver in creating a leading service organization.
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