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What Do Citicorp, UPS and Marriott have in common? They are "breakthrough" service providers,firms that changed the rules of the game in their respective industries by consistently meeting or exceeding customer needs and expectations. To find out how these companies do it, service management experts James Heskett, Earl Sasser, and Christopher Hart put the question to the chief executive officers of fifteen of America's leading service firms attending a workshop at the Harvard Business School. Breakthrough leaders, they discovered, think very differently about their businesses than do their competitors, in distinct and well-defined ways. Now, in Service Breakthroughs, based upon five years of exhaustive research in fourteen service industries, Heskett, Sasser, and Hart show exactly what enables one or two companies in each industry to constantly set new standards for quality and value that force competitors to adapt or fail. At the heart of breakthrough performance, the authors contend, is a sometimes intuitive but thorough understanding of the "self-reinforcing service cycle" that replaces traditional management of "trade-offs." The "cycle" is a paradigm derived from the research results suggesting direct links between heightened customer satisfaction, increased customer retention, augmented sales and profit, improved quality and productivity, greater service value per unit of cost, improved satisfaction of service providers, increased employee retention, and further heightened customer satisfaction. With detailed examples and dramatic case studies of Mark Twain Bancshares, American Airlines, Florida Power & Light, Federal Express, McDonald's and many other companies, Heskett, Sasser, and Hart show how this self-reinforcing cycle of behavior differentiates breakthrough leaders from their "merely good" competitors. The authors describe how breakthrough managers develop counter-intuitive, even contrarian, strategic service visions. These companies define their "service concept" in terms of results achieved for customers rather than services performed. They target market segments by focusing on psychographics -- how customers think and behave -- instead of demographics. And instead of viewing a service delivery system as a facility where the service is produced and sold, breakthrough firms see it as an opportunity to enhance the quality of the service. These profound differences in thought and action have brought spectacular results. For managers who wish to set the pace in their service industries, Service Breakthroughs will be essential reading.
Why are a select few service firms better at what they do -- year in and year out -- than their competitors? For most senior managers, the profusion of anecdotal "service excellence" books fails to address this key question. In this pathbreaking book, world-renowned Harvard Business School service firm experts James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, Jr. and Leonard A. Schlesinger reveal that leading companies stay on top by managing the service profit chain. Based on five years of painstaking research, the authors show how managers at American Express, Southwest Airlines, Banc One, Waste Management, USAA, MBNA, Intuit, British Airways, Taco Bell, Fairfield Inns, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and the Merry Maids subsidiary of ServiceMaster employ a quantifiable set of relationships that directly links profit and growth to not only customer loyalty and satisfaction, but to employee loyalty, satisfaction, and productivity. The strongest relationships the authors discovered are those between (1) profit and customer loyalty; (2) employee loyalty and customer loyalty; and (3) employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. Moreover, these relationships are mutually reinforcing; that is, satisfied customers contribute to employee satisfaction and vice versa. Here, finally, is the foundation for a powerful strategic service vision, a model on which any manager can build more focused operations and marketing capabilities. For example, the authors demonstrate how, in Banc One's operating divisions, a direct relationship between customer loyalty measured by the "depth" of a relationship, the number of banking services a customer utilizes, and profitability led the bank to encourage existing customers to further extend the bank services they use. Taco Bell has found that their stores in the top quadrant of customer satisfaction ratings outperform their other stores on all measures. At American Express Travel Services, offices that ticket quickly and accurately are more profitable than those which don't. With hundreds of examples like these, the authors show how to manage the customer-employee "satisfaction mirror" and the customer value equation to achieve a "customer's eye view" of goods and services. They describe how companies in any service industry can (1) measure service profit chain relationships across operating units; (2) communicate the resulting self-appraisal; (3) develop a "balanced scorecard" of performance; (4) develop a recognitions and rewards system tied to established measures; (5) communicate results company-wide; (6) develop an internal "best practice" information exchange; and (7) improve overall service profit chain performance. What difference can service profit chain management make? A lot. Between 1986 and 1995, the common stock prices of the companies studied by the authors increased 147%, nearly twice as fast as the price of the stocks of their closest competitors. The proven success and high-yielding results from these high-achieving companies will make The Service Profit Chain required reading for senior, division, and business unit managers in all service companies, as well as for students of service management.
James Heskett, Earl Sasser, and Leonard Schlesinger reveal powerful new evidence that paying close attention to the employee-customer relationship will enable any organization to be a low-cost provider and achieve superior results -- proving that you can have it all, a goal thought inadvisable just a few short years ago. At the heart of this bold assertion is the authors' indisputable conclusion supported by thirty-one years of groundbreaking research: today's employee satisfaction, loyalty, and commitment strongly influences tomorrow's customer satisfaction, loyalty, and commitment and ultimately the organization's profit and growth -- a quantifiable set of associations the authors call the value profit chain. In what may be the most far-reaching study ever undertaken of the strategic importance of the employee-customer relationship, Heskett, Sasser, and Schlesinger offer profound new insights into the life-long value of both employees and customers and the increasingly important concept of employee-relationship management. Readers will discover how organizations as diverse as aluminum maker Alcoa, travel agency Rosenbluth International, and the Willow Creek Community Church treat employees like customers (in the case of Willow Creek, volunteers as well). Conversely, the authors show how advertising agency Merkley Newman Harty and financial services provider ING Direct treat customers like employees, pursuing the ones they want most. At the Vanguard Group, Cisco Systems, and Southwest Airlines, both practices are common. The authors explain how these organizations and many others -- whether large or small, public or private, or not-for-profit -- achieve profitability and growth or the equivalent by leveraging results and process quality to deliver differentiated products and services at the lowest cost. Timely, essential, and important reading, The Value Profit Chain should be readily accessible on the desk of every forward-thinking manager.
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