Managing expectations is as important as delivering performance and other takeaways from ABS


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A few sips from the firehouse

One of my favorite quotes about “lagniappe” comes by way of Mark Twain. Samuel was so fond of the word he exclaimed, “It is a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get.” Many times in the life the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. Yet sometimes in life you have an experience that exceeds even your highest expectations.

I just finished “Achieving Breakthrough Service” at HBS with 47 good friends. We spent 4 days drinking from the firehose. It was awesome learning from the bleeding edge of service at HBS. Das, Frances, Dennis, Ananth and Earl were passionate about the importance of service and its role as a competitive differentiator. Here is an infographic featuring a baker’s dozen of takeaways from the course:

ABS takeaways

  1. In order to be great at customer service, you have to have the courage to be bad. You can’t be good at everything. Trying to leads to mediocrity.
  2. Design jobs for employees we have, not for those we wish we had. Manage the gap between operational complexity and employee sophistication.
  3. Little things can make a big difference. Smiles and thank you’s go a long way.
  4. The devil is in the details. Excellent execution and mediocre strategy will beat mediocre execution and excellent strategy.
  5. Empathy is absolutely key. The ability to intellectually identify with or vicariously experience the feelings of others.
  6. Customer Satisfaction only tells you the past. It is a bad measure for future strategy, analogous to driving your car with the windshield blocked and steering by looking through the rear view mirror.
  7. Service excellence is getting the core correct and then taking the little things and weaving them into a masterpiece.
  8. We need to condition our customers to not only do the right things, but to be an active participant in value creation.
  9. Establish a culture where both acknowledging and solving problems is rewarded. Acknowledgement is a SOLO practice, solving is a TEAM activity.
  10. Culture is what shapes decisions in the absence of authority and policy.
  11. Out of chaos, comes revenue and out of discipline, comes profits.
  12. Managing expectations is as important as delivering performance.
  13. Disconfirmation is Performance minus expectations. Guard against situations where you are below expectations, customers react unfavorably…quickly.

ABS is well worth traveling to Cambridge to get.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – here is a snapshot of our class in front of the Baker Library.

class photo ABS 2012

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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