As a former student of Heskett's and Sasser's in the early '70's, I have followed their research in the field of service management. As a student and consulting practioner of "high performance service management" for 18 years, I have over 50 books in my library on "service management" with publication dates going back to 1976. This book provides not only a refined summary of all of the best service management theories, but it breaks new ground as far as making a new service order happen within a business.
If you want to truly achieve - distinctive and sustained levels of service, lower total costs, higher everyday margins, and happier, more loyal employees and customers, then this book is for you. It is well written and organized, but it is a process book instead of one with a lot of quick-fix, anecdotal stories that have been unproductively popular for too long. You will have to work intellectually to get through this book, but you will be conceptually re-oriented down the right path towards true competitive advantage.
The book does update and improve on the authors' own research and publishing - notably Heskett's book entitled "Service Breakthroughs" (Free Press, 1990). In the "what's new" department, what I liked best was the third part of the book sub-titled "Putting It All Together". To go from a top-down, financial management company to a bottom-up, service excellence performer takes a total transformation starting with the dated, unspoken core assumptions or beliefs of the CEO. The authors illustrate with case studies that big change is necessary for big gain, but it most often will involve some big pain. They do an excellent job, however, of preparing the would be change artist for the transformational bumps ahead.
D. Bruce Merrifield, Jr firstname.lastname@example.org [...]