The Great Management Paradox - Solved
Pursuing " 'Killer' Service"

Do You Offer "'Killer' Service"?

Of course you cannot answer that question without knowing the definition of “killer”, which in any case is one of those subjective, non-quantifiable and hence basically meaningless terms.      

In any case, this is actually a trick question, because every business offers ‘killer’ service – for the service provided either kills the competition (the desirable outcome), or it kills business (the unintended outcome.) Henry Ford said, "The only foundation of real business is service." The fact is, if you provide a poor service your customers won’t love you, but your competitors will. So to be more accurate the question should actually be, “What kind of ‘killer’ service are you offering?”

Well, are you offering ‘murderous’ service that, at least presents a challenge and, at best, offers a 'WOW!' customer experience that really poses a threat to your competitors? Or are you offering ‘suicidal’ service that, without radical change, at best makes it difficult to thrive, or, at worst, makes it impossible to survive?

Given that the choice is clearly between a right answer and a wrong one, I am sure the majority of managers will claim that they are offering ‘murderous’ service or, if they are more honest, will say that they are working hard to deliver such service.

The fact is that outstanding service today remains very much the exception rather than the norm, and many businesses survive only because the long-suffering consumer has become inured to poor service, and is too fatigued and brow-beaten to expect anything better, or to do anything about it.

Unfortunately this is a situation that doesn’t look like getting any better in the near future.  As reported in my last blog (“The Great Management Paradox”) the recently published Towers-Perrin 2007 Global Workforce Study, reveals that only 21% of the world’s workforce are ‘engaged’ in their work. How can any organisation expect to offer exemplary customer service if 79% of its employees are not sufficiently engaged to commit their time, energy, creativity and knowledge to make the effort? 

Given these statistics it could even be argued that by far the largest majority of businesses actually fit into the ‘suicidal’ category. Or they would if service wasn’t universally so poor. This lack of employee engagement is so pervasive that it is actually protecting business from its consequences.

It was Warren Harding who said, “Service is the supreme commitment of life.” While he was most likely referring to public service, there is an underlying truth to the statement which gives it a wider application and makes it relevant to all service. This means it is impossible to expect service standards to improve unless a way can be found to secure employee engagement: to make people more involved and committed.

While the sheer pervasiveness of the lack of employee engagement is levelling the playing field and preventing individual businesses going to the wall as a result, the economic costs are astronomic. Recent research by Proudfoot Consulting estimates that the cost to the UK economy is £80 billion or 7% of the GDP. While it is clear that this is not just a UK problem, in a global economy this kind of drain is one that no country can afford. Nor, at the individual company level, is it one that any self-respecting management team can tolerate.

So to return to the original, revised question, you need to be more aware of the intrinsic nature of your service offering and which category of ‘killer’ service you are truly promoting. And, if you are serious about trying to deliver ‘murderous’ service, you will need to recognise it is only possible with committed people, and consequently make people management your number one priority. It is clear that any business able to solve this problem and engage its employees is going to gain a massive competitive advantage, with enormous economic and commercial benefit. Alternatively, one that does not will risk being slaughtered by the competitor who does. Can you really afford not to explore how the Zealise approach could help in this regard? 


Joe Gimenez

I appreciate your comments about the fact that the playing field is level, since about 80 percent of employees provide mediocre customer service since they aren't the 20 percent engaged in their job. An interesting perception. I blogged about this study as well, at and its implications to the utility and energy industries. I think there are similar observations there as well.
thanks for your blog. It's very good.
joey gimenez

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