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Displaying 1 - 30 of 53 reviews
Profile Image for Thijs Niks.
91 reviews
July 15, 2017
Compelling argument for choosing explicitly what to be good and what to be bad at in a service business. Lots of real world examples make it a more interesting read, though overall not as engaging as I hoped.
557 reviews3 followers
November 13, 2012
Uncommon Service makes one especially good point, which is that the customer service experience involves trade offs, where you can do some things well, but not all. While this is an important point, the remainder of the book tends to fall increasingly flat, with fewer additional ideas that could be considered new and unique.
73 reviews
September 15, 2022
If you have not been “in the trenches” of the product or service that your company is offering for some time this book can serve as a good reminder of some suggested practices.

In short be honest with the scale you operate at, and the limits of your team. Build your service around those factors while not being afraid to ask your customers for help.
Profile Image for Jeff Toister.
Author 6 books18 followers
April 4, 2013
This book has really stuck with me since I've read it. That says a lot for someone who reads a lot of books about customer service.

I really like how the core points are presented in a very logical framework. For example, one of the main points of the book is that your business can't be good at everything. Smart companies choose to be great at the attributes their target customers care the most about while spending less time, money, and attention on the things that don't matter.
13 reviews
March 18, 2020
Breezy read. Very very practical. Has the answers to most common doubts and questions that you might have while reading the book. I would say the book has achieved the objective of had set out with.
If you are a service business owner or an aspiring one or a senior level manager in a service business - definitely do read this book.
57 reviews4 followers
June 10, 2019
It’s built into the design of the firm which achieves the goal of superior service on average employees
-          Which means deciding what you won’t do well e.g. WMT wont provide high customer service & allocate resources accordingly
-          Fund that capital allocation by either charging customers extra (e.g. apple charges for its after care), cost improvements drive improved service (Progressive agents come on site ==> higher customer service, lower incident of fraud leading to lower cost), have improved service lower costs (Intuit product managers man call center) or get customers to do the work (airline self-check-in kiosk)
-          Either pay up for the best people, or have superior training that eliminates dead-weight, make the job easier for sales people so they can focus on service (don’t have a cashier sell complex fin products, also means picking the right customers) and have the right incentives
-          Manage your customers i.e. select the right ones to serve, train them to use your product (e.g. customers use SBUX lingo to order), reduce the complexity of what the customer has to do to get the job done, reward customers for compliance (not loyalty programs that are mere discounts) and control the degree to which customers influence your operations (at BK you can make your own whopper … but up to a point)

It needs to permeate through the culture of the firm which means mgmt. needs to have clarity on their culture, need to signal it to all employees, and signal it across job functions

And finally scale up i.e. service model within service model (NOT recreating a new service model) e.g. Best Buy caters to DIY electronics while their own Magnolia brand deals in high end electronics with high customer service … need to make sure back ops are shared else don’t get any scale benefits
Profile Image for Daniel B.
17 reviews1 follower
March 1, 2023
You can’t be great at everything.
So pick the things that matter most to your customers.
And be great at those.

That’s it, that’s the whole book just stop there. 2 stars for pointing out this common sense to ponder, it’s good common sense.

It then goes onto a 10 step plan or some prescriptive nonsense, dressing up that tiny bit of basic common sense as a guru genius framework.

A large bag of bollocks after the first paragraph, basically.
19 reviews
January 8, 2022
Excellent and thought provoking read

It did initially seem an odd concept to do something’s within the organisation badly. But to focus on doing the few things customers value, really well, other things need to bend or you end up doing everything averagely.

A recommended book for any business owner or manager.
242 reviews1 follower
December 10, 2022
While this book was published back in 2012, many of its lessons are just as relevant today (albeit for potentially different reasons or due to new drivers). Some of my key takeaways include the following quotes:

• 4 service truths: 1) You can’t be good at everything. 2) Someone has to pay for it. 3) It’s not your employee’ fault. 4) You must manage your customers (p. 9-10).
• “Leadership, at its core, is about making other people better as a result of your presence—and making sure that the impact lasts in your absence. As a leader, you create the conditions for others (in services, that means employees and customers to perform), and you do what it takes to sustain those conditions, even when you’re not in the room. Designing good systems is part of this ‘absentee leadership,’ but the most powerful tool you have, by far is culture. Culture not only guides individual decision-making, but also provides the foundation for all other organizational behavior and action. In other words, culture doesn’t just tell you what to do—it shows you how to think… Service Excellence = Design X Culture” (p. 8).
• “There is an important distinction between marketing and operating segments. Marketing segments tell us how to identify and communicate with different kinds of customers. Operating segments tell us how to serve customers differently. There is rarely a one-to-one mapping between these segments” (p. 53).
• “gratuitous service [is], service nice-to-haves donated to customers, with little chance of recovering their costs” (p. 56).
• “there are four ways to pay for excellence: 1. Charge customers extra for it—in a palatable way. 2. Make cost reductions that also improve service. 3. Make service improvements that also reduce costs. 4. Get customers to do the work for you” (p. 56).
• “be prepared to go all the way in integrating technology into job design, from great software and functional hardware to effective training and regular user feedback” (p. 1010)
• “Job design is mostly about designing tasks so that they match a typical employee’s attitude and aptitude. Performance management is about creating incentives to do a job well—and disincentives to do it poorly. These are the carrots and sticks that keep your employees on track, but they can also include controls such as scripts and checklists that make it difficult for employees to stray too far” (p. 101).
• “The goal of an excellent service organization is to deliver outstanding results with AVERAGE [my capitalization] employees” (p. 116).
• “Successful employee management systems have four main components: selection, training, job design, and performance management” (p. 116).
• “IT solutions can help or hurt your employees’ productivity, often in dramatic ways. IT tools that work are sensitive to the employee experience, including how and when data is entered in the rhythm of a particular job. The best solutions are developed in tandem with the role itself—not piled on after a job design is already in place” (p. 116).
• “The average service employee is overwhelmed by the increasing complexity of his or her job. When a company identifies a gap like this between operational complexity and employee sophistication, it has two choices: change the people or change the job. In other words, (1) train and hire differently or (2) redesign the job so that your current team can do it” (p. 117).
• “variability is a fact of life with customer-operators. Here are the different forms it can take:
Arrival… Request... Capability… Effort… Preference…” (p. 122-123).
• “These kinds of practical tools for communicating and reinforcing culture show up across organizations that consistently deliver outstanding customer value. More specifically, we’ve seen three distinct patterns in these organizations’ relationship to culture. All demonstrate high levels of the following:
Clarity: knowing exactly what kinds of a culture you want to build, and how this culture is critical to achieving your most important performance objectives
Signaling: relentlessly communicating the organization’s core values, particularly in moments when people are likely to be most receptive to these messages, such as during recruiting and orientation
Consistency: reinforcing the culture at every turn and rooting out cultural violations, that is, misalignment between the desired culture and organizational strategy, structure, and operations” (p.163-164).
• “When they are in constant contact with customers, employees often get a disproportionate exposure to the bad. When things are going great, customers rarely call their car company or cell phone provider to let it know. And what this disproportionate exposure to the bad means is that calcification often sets in. Employees become hardened toward customers and start treating them as two-dimensional entities. But it’s impossible to deliver excellent service when you’ve dehumanized your customer. So cultures not only have to get the norms and values right, but also have to provide for what we call regular decalcification. How much decalcification you’re going to need will depend on how much hardening has occurred” (p. 181).
• “another way to think about shared services: a mechanism for sharing insight and learning across agencies. We call this realizing economies of experience” (p. 210).
33 reviews
June 17, 2022
3 things that stood out for me:
1) A company cannot be great at everything. It is better to focus on the things that matter to your client base than to try to be better at everything.
2) An excellent service organization need to achieve its results with average employees. Don't say "If only everyone is like Mr X."
3) Someone needs to pay for great service. Nothing is free.
May 2, 2018
Great book, it helps you to discover the value of services.... And give you a framework to design the services

Great book, it helps you to discover the value of services.... And give you a framework to design the services
4 reviews
July 2, 2019
Fantastic nuts and bolts of great service

This book expanded my thinking without constantly drilling home things I already know. The experience of the authors comes through over and over.
January 26, 2021
Uncommon Service urges one to pick your battles and not go after everything. My biggest takeaway was the existence of an alternate segmentation based on operational feasibility, dubbed as operational segments (on the similar lines of marketing segments based on demographics and psychographics).
Profile Image for Heather Unterseher.
185 reviews9 followers
March 30, 2021
This is a really great, practical and clear roadmap to turning your organization into a high service, high achieving one! Our whole service team is reading it together and gleaning great insights, wonderful and engaged discussions, and targeted action steps.
29 reviews
April 16, 2021
The first half of this book was excellent, but it felt like it ran out of gas about halfway through. The overarching theory sustained 4-5 insightful chapters before the book gave way to a pretty generic conclusion.

That said, the first half of the book was really, really good.
Profile Image for Patricia Gamboa.
14 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2021
Inspiring, dynamic, and practical.
Their framework is a true blue print for service excellence.
Three key take aways: employees yearn to serve, customers are eager to do their part, and organizations can change overnight.
Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Beth Houtrow.
2 reviews
May 13, 2022
While this book is unnecessarily academic (maybe don't put a bunch of smiley faces on your cover and then write as if everyone reading is a Harvard MBA), but it is also packed with good information for any size business. My recommendation to small business owners - tough it out. It may get tedious at times, but it will give you so much valuable information.
Profile Image for Michael MacRae.
100 reviews4 followers
February 14, 2023
Very applicable book with lots of tips and tricks. The only way to make this better would be by adding lots of comparison data (Collins style). Some of the ideas are thought provoking and it’s a great starting point to think differently.
Profile Image for Marie.
126 reviews10 followers
December 11, 2019
Dnf half way through. Maybe not the right mindset but I found it boring to read.
Profile Image for Ricky.
71 reviews
August 31, 2020
my boss made me read this, good stories about...running a customer service team, gives you perspective. would have liked to see more dragons or time travel though.
Profile Image for Steo.
5 reviews
September 3, 2021
Some thought provoking concepts that I look forward to delving in to further myself & with my colleagues within my organisation.
Profile Image for Carla.
81 reviews9 followers
September 3, 2021
Many of the points kept reminding me of Dale Carnegie points
Profile Image for Synexe.
20 reviews6 followers
August 28, 2013

In order to provide really great customer service you need to choose what aspects of customer service you’re going to really excel at and, this is the clincher, what aspects you’re going to put less attention on. Or, in the words of the authors, choosing where you’re going to be bad! The choice to be made is what type of service design you’re going to implement in you organization – and trade-offs will always have to be made.


The authors argue that the time has come for this book as:

The primary driver of our economy is no longer what we make, but how we serve each other. Eighty percent of jobs in the U.S. are now in service, and service represents eighty percent of the gross national product.


There are four key ‘truths’ for amazing service. These are: (1) you need to choose what aspects of service you’re going to focus on and which parts you’re not; (2) understand where the resourcing for this extra service will come from; (3) understand that your employees can only ever be as good as the system you establish allows them to be; and (4) you ought to proactively manage your customer’s engagement with your organization. The final point is that it is your organizational culture that allows this to come together as a whole.


This is a really interesting book which isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. While much of what the authors advocate could be considered common sense it is often the things that are the most obvious that we don’t notice.

What the authors do – and they do it well – is lay out a number of structural decisions that an organization can make to create a service design within the organization to help differentiate your organization from your competitors. These four structural aspects – which the authors call the four service truths – are then made real through the operation of the organization’s culture. And, they do a very good job of both explaining how culture impacts on the operation of an organization’s service design as well as how an organization can work to create the ‘right type’ of culture for success.

In the author’s word:

Service Excellence = Design x Culture

The real strength of the book is the very practical way in which they outline what an organization needs to do to put into practice their ideas while all the while backing it up with evidence from a range of different companies working in a number of different sectors. Part of the interest in the book is the use of examples you wouldn’t normally think of being successful because of service excellence such as their use of case studies from businesses like ‘Bugs Burger Bugs Killers’ – a pest extermination firm!

We’ve followed their advice in the creation of modifying the service design model we’re using in our firm and there isn’t a better recommendation of the utility of a book like this than using it ourselves! Definitely a recommended read.
Profile Image for Mikal.
100 reviews19 followers
October 20, 2013
This book has useful elements of service design but falls short of meaningful advancement in favor of a standard 'customer service' approach. The book sometimes strays from its thesis "putting customers at the core" and at various times adopts the banner of "doing less to get more".
Fundamentally this book is as if blue ocean strategy was re-written specifically for services. (Choose the dimensions you will excel in, others not so much).

This approach while valuable falls apart with the inconsistent rigor applied to selecting the highlighted companies. At various times the book recommends Best Buy as a notable example, when their shortcomings should have been obvious by the time this book was written.

Overall this book inspired my thinking but is a 'nice to read' not a definitive contribution to service design or management.
Profile Image for Girish.
899 reviews219 followers
September 29, 2015
Normally, It is a sin to compare business books against fiction. For a business book this had one of the most coherent story all through without repeating itself. And fit enough to be the bible for designing customer service.

The authors have not polished theories, but build a more empirical logic on what works and what doesn't. The first chapter in a gist gives the entire book and each chapter explains with anecdotes and case studies. The core idea that service organizations must resign to the fact that they can't be good at everything is hard hitting.

It follows through the logic with each chapter exploring the various dimensions such as Customer, Employer, Culture, Structure, Strategy and Scaling up in crisp concise fashion with Uncommon Takeaways at the end of each chapter.

Absolutely loved it!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 53 reviews