Discovering the Soul of Service: The Nine Drivers of Sustainable Business Success

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This wise and inspiring book by Leonard Berry, 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.

In a world where customers regard flawless products as a given, service is the key differentiator between competitors in any field.

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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About the author

Dr. Leonard L. Berry holds the JCPenney Chair of Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University. A former National President of the American Marketing Association, he is the author of 13 books on services marketing and quality service.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jul 13, 1999
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780684830865
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Customer Relations
Business & Economics / General
Business & Economics / Management
Business & Economics / Marketing / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Excellence in customer service is the hallmark of success in service industries and among manufacturers of products that require reliable service. But what exactly is excellent service? It is the ability to deliver what you promise, say the authors, but first you must determine what you can promise. Building on seven years of research on service quality, they construct a model that, by balancing a customer's perceptions of the value of a particular service with the customer's need for that service, provides brilliant theoretical insight into customer expectations and service delivery.

For example, Florida Power & Light has developed a sophisticated, computer-based lightening tracking system to anticipate where weather-related service interruptions might occur and strategically position crews at these locations to quicken recovery response time. Offering a service that customers expect to be available at all times and that they will miss only when the lights go out, FPL focuses its energies on matching customer perceptions with potential need. Deluxe Corporation, America's highly successful check printer, regularly exceeds its customers' expectations by shipping nearly 95% of all orders by the day after the orders were received. Deluxe even put U.S. Postal Service stations inside its plants to speed up delivery time.

Customer expectations change over time. To anticipate these changes, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company regularly monitors the expectations and perceptions of their customers, using focus group interviews and the authors' 22-item generic SERVQUAL questionnaire, which is customized by adding questions covering specific aspects of service they wish to track.

The authors' groundbreaking model, which tracks the five attributes of quality service -- reliability, empathy, assurance, responsiveness, and tangibles -- goes right to the heart of the tendency to overpromise. By comparing customer perceptions with expectations, the model provides marketing managers with a two-part measure of perceived quality that, for the first time, enables them to segment a market into groups with different service expectations.
Improving service quality has finally become a top priority of management today, yet according to service quality expert Leonard Berry only a handful of companies have managed to determine exactly what to improve and how to improve it. For the past two years, Berry studied dozens of companies of all sizes renowned for their capacity to deliver what they promise and more. From his on-site observation of the strategies and practices of such companies as Mary Kay Cosmetics, Tattered Cover Book Store, Longo Toyota & Lexus, Lakeland Regional Medical Center, and Hard Rock Cafe, Berry has constructed a dynamic new framework for improving service.
This framework provides a roadmap for implementation found nowhere else in the service quality literature. In every chapter Berry draws on his twelve years of research in service quality to explain each part of the framework in detail. He provides rich insights and inspiring examples of great service -- including numerous examples unique to this book as well as the classic success stories of USAA, Taco Bell, and many more. Berry shows that a company must (1) develop service leadership skills and values -- a concept substantially different from developing general leadership; (2) build a service quality information system; and (3) create a comprehensive service strategy based on the four principles of great service: reliability, surprise, recovery, and fairness. He demonstrates how these four principles, when adopted by the leadership and infused into the systems of a service company, are the building blocks of the framework and form the anchor for implementation.
Berry shows how the "artistry" of great service can be systematically created from this foundation through a company's organizational structure, technology, and often under utilized human resources assets. He challenges service managers to set their service quality aspirations higher, and his innovative, practical ideas will help them achieve those higher standards. Linking service excellence to value creation, Berry provides solid financial reasons for the necessity of great service. Here, at last, is the book for which managers in every service industry have waited: Leonard Berry's "operating manual" for turning plans for great service into action.
Excellent service is the foundation for services marketing, contend Leonard Berry and A. Parasuraman in this companion volume to Delivering Quality Service. Building on eight years of research, the authors develop a model for understanding the relationship between quality and marketing in services and offer dozens of practical insights into ways to improve services marketing. They argue that superior service cannot be manufactured in a factory, packaged, and delivered intact to customers. Though an innovative service concept may give a company an initial edge, superior quality is vital to sustaining success.

Berry and Parasuraman show that inspired leadership, a customer-minded corporate culture, an excellent service-system design, and effective use of technology and information are crucial to superior service quality and services marketing. When a company's service is excellent, customers are more likely to perceive value in transactions, spread favorable word-of-mouth impressions, and respond positively to employee-cross-selling efforts. The authors point out that a service company that does relatively little pre-sales marketing but is truly dedicated to delivering excellent quality service will have greater marketing effectiveness, higher customer retention, and more sales to existing customers than a company that emphasizes pre-sale marketing but falls short during actual service delivery. The focus of any company, they insist, must be customer satisfaction through integration of service quality throughout the entire system.

Filled with examples, stories, and insights from senior executives, Berry and Parasuraman's new framework for effective marketing services contains the key to high-performance services marketing.
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