Tuesday, August 31, 2010


More than 80% of our  (Western) economies is based upon services. However, most tools, processes, research and business models are still based upon products and manufacturing know-how.
This creates tension, especially on the work floor. In the case of services, the person who delivers the service is in essence the service. Indeed, a human being and not a machine or a part. Human beings can and would like to think for themselves, they would like to grow, have meaningful work and feel engaged.

Who are these frontline employees in service jobs?
They are food service workers, nurses’ aides, janitors, home healthcare workers, waiters, cashiers, receptionists, rental-car agents etc. 45% of all jobs are these routine service jobs.
We have to make these service jobs even more innovative, more productive, and higher paying. This is beneficial for them as well as for the business.

Employees who are enthusiastic, engaged, and fulfilled are also happy. This lowers the use of the healthcare system (physical and mental) and positively impacts the customer relationship.

It is easy to get started.
A suggestion: Ask every frontline employee ONE aspect of their work which can be improved and how. They will thankfully respond to you and even expect this to be an ongoing process. This is great, let them feel this ownership and have them ongoing engaged in this process of continuous improvement.

When will you start?


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Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Last week I had to buy a new TV, so I went to several stores for orientation. I am not up to date on the latest technologies in that industry, though. And that is what happened, I was bombarded with jargon out of that world (LED, LCD, HD, 50 Hz, 100 Hz, 32 inch, 40 inch, digital subscriptions etc).
In one shop they only explained about the TV, which was on sale, and where I was just standing as the salesrepr approached. He made no other suggestions or explanations.
In the second shop, I did get an excellent technical explanation of the possibilities. The best, however, was a demo of one 50Hz TV which was placed next to a 100 Hz TV. In that way I could really see the difference in quality.

What surprised me most is that no salesrepr actually asked what kind of a TV viewer I was. In other words what my needs were. So, no questions, as to how many hours I watch TV, whether I watch DVD’s with surround sound, how many people does my family consists of, whether I want to connect my stereo system, where the TV is placed etc. The basic questions in a sales call were not asked. Apparently they didn’t care. I am just a consumer and supposed to buy what they have to offer and figure it out myself what the best fit is.
I would say that a simple set of questions could highly improve my customer experience.

As I don’t want to spend hours and hours installing the device, I did ask who I could call in case I had difficulties. They gave me a name and telephone number. Fine.
But, hey guys, this can be much better, why not offer me to install the TV and offer me an extended warranty/service contract? Again they didn’t care.

When I installed the TV, there was a slight problem; there was no sound............ I used the remote as well as the tips on the TV itself, but no result. Well, maybe that is why they did give me a discount, there was no sound. Still, I called the number, but the person was free that day (which they hadn’t told me). I asked for another person, but they claimed to be very busy and that they will ask them to call me later. I don’t know their definition of later, but now 5 days have passed and nobody called me. Fortunately I figured out myself that they had put the sound off via the menu of the system (it was a demo TV).

So, how do I, the customer, perceive this? I was really surprised that in 2010 still the basics of sales and service were not in place (and this is a multinational!). Sales was not interested in my needs, sales didn’t offer me any service and (after sales) service was virtually non-existing.
The good news is that there is a lot of room for improvement and that is rather easy to accomplish.
That will only happen when the leadership takes customer service as well as after -sales service seriously. Part is also a cultural issue; it requires a shift in mindset. From box shifter to delighting customers that is quite a serious step. There is no other way if you want to survive in this highly competitive market.


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Tuesday, August 17, 2010


That is what Richard Florida does in his latest book ‘The Great Reset’. I would say that this book is a must read for every innovator.

We know that for every creative process, the following steps are necessary:
  1. What is the end result?
  2. What is the current reality?
  3. What are the action steps?

Florida gives us a perspective on all these steps, both economically and from a society’s point of view.

Below I have listed some inspirational thoughts:

-       Great resets bring about shifts in consumption that fuel rising industries.
-       The places that thrive today are those with the highest velocity of ideas, the highest density of talented and creative people, and the highest rate of metabolism.
-       The jostling of many different professions and different types of people, all in a dense environment, is essential to the creation of things that are truly new.
-       Local cultural and social life determines who gets the talent.
-       It is that the old world will inevitably disappear, and that creating a new one is up to you, not someone else.
-       Innovation is no longer a national game but a global one
-       We need to spend less time and effort bailing out and stimulating the old economy and a lot more on building the new.
-       We have to make service jobs even more innovative, more productive, and higher paying.
-       The service economy offers a tremendous potential for tapping the creative contributions of frontline workers and turning them into improved productivity.
-       Further economic development requires the further harnessing of our human creative talents. <>.......of each and every worker.
-       We need a system of learning and human development that mobilizes and harnesses human creative talent en masse.

What does this mean?
Globally we have to bring together groups of talented, creative people from different backgrounds (business, art, science, government) that collaborate on new ideas for living and working together in a new system!

In essence we all have to learn (and unlearn) to be Creativists (http://bit.ly/cQ8kXR)!
Would you like to contribute?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


In a great article from W.P. Carey’s Center for Services Leadership called “Making Services a  Science – new study finds great interest – and great confusion (http://bit.ly/dmdAgy)” the need for service innovation is being recognized.

‘......more companies than ever are interested in services innovation -- the creation of "transformative" services. More companies than ever are interested in smart services design. More companies than ever are interested in creating service-centric cultures, in leveraging technology to boost services and in creating consistency of service across geographies.’
I am inclined to say ‘finally’, but there is a right time for everything. It is good that more and more companies (and also governments) see the need to add services to their portfolio. And it is also very good that they understand that service business is fundamentally different from product business.
In essence, service business is people business, it is a human being who delivers the service. I always explain that if a product is out of stock you will order it from the factory. Because service business is all about human beings, the incubation time there is minimal 9 months…..
So, yes indeed there is a difference. The quicker you learn and understand this, the quicker you will be able to leapfrog your competition.
‘…….the challenge now is to create "the" model for services success -- a roadmap that can help service-inexperienced companies get started or allow services experts get even better at their craft.’
In my next post I would like to introduce my model, which I call ‘The Services Growth Ecosystem’.
Services are hot, but be aware that you don’t get burned. Take the time and the right resources to build a truly servicable organization!


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