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A friend of mine, the Head of a Middle School, wrote the following as part of his weekly letter to parents. He is working hard to balance change and innovation demanded by modern times with the tradition and process long revered in student education. His message also rings true for service innovation in business and government organizations:

“When Brazil defeated Italy in 1970 for their third World Cup in 12 years, football aficionados claimed it was the greatest team ever with the greatest player ever, Pele. Four years later, it was the West Germans who defeated the Dutch in Munich to seize the World Cup, led by their brilliant defenseman, Franz Beckenbauer.

When considering quality of service around the world, many stereotypes can be applied. We may think certain countries or cultures naturally excel at service, while others are very efficient but not very friendly. And we may even see some countries where service appears to be an altogether low priority. Yet while stereotypes persist – and may have basis in personal experience – I have accumulated more and more experience in countries across the globe, and everywhere I teach and travel, I observe 3 things we all have in common:

1. Service expectations are local.

How people understand and evaluate service, especially front line customer service, is based on the world they live in every day. We judge the service we receive by comparing it to our own experience. This everyday experience varies widely for people from Nairobi to Shanghai to Delhi to Seattle. Defining service excellence is relative to what we experience around us.

This article first appeared in Contact Center Pipeline, written by Susan Nash. Does your culture support the behaviors to deliver great service? There has been a lot of buzz lately about culture in the industry trade news (including Pipeline), as well as the general business media, conferences and in social media discussions. It seemed fitting

Especially during the busy holiday season, customers wait on hold for an eternity. Complaints go unanswered. Salespeople and customer service providers seem more like Scrooge than Santa’s helpers. If you think customer service has taken a nosedive, you’re right, says Ron Kaufman—but there’s a lot you can do to change that. Read on for his tips for being a better customer.

I recently stayed at the Banyan Tree resort in Macau. This was my first time staying with the 5-star Banyan Tree group. All I knew was that the Macau property is a high-rise urban resort in the city with modern living, unlike the other Banyan Tree resorts built with nature-filled living and relaxation. I expected to indulge and be pampered with service excellence – as I would in any other hotel of equal standing.

When I arrived at check-in, the staff member mentioned my name in a tone and style that made me like feel they had been waiting just for me. That felt good, especially after a long flight and drive to reach the destination.

Each year The Conference Board publishes survey results of the Top CEO Challenges for global organizations. In 2014 the top four challenges are:

1. Human Capital
2. Customer Relationships
3. Innovation
4. Operational Excellence

The Conference Board says business leaders are seeking to drive growth by “focusing on people, performance, reconnecting with customers, and reshaping the culture of work. They see a renewed commitment to customers, innovation, and the corporate brand.”

What are the major challenges leaders and organizations must overcome to build a competitive advantage with a strong and sustainable service culture? New video – 2.5 minutes. Watch it now.

Indian telecommunications is one of the most commoditized, competitive, and chaotic markets in the world. Hundreds of stores sell identical phones and tablets. Price competition is intense. Customers are spoiled for choice. In this challenging market, one company consistently charges higher prices, but has also enjoyed sustained growth and profitability over decades. How can this

Here are the Six Most Popular Service Blog Posts of the year (so far). Each provides content and context with tools and tips you can apply right away. Take these now and share them with the leaders in your organization.

Who plays the most powerful role in a successful education implementation? The employees who are learning, the trainer who leads the class, or the manager of the employees?

Over 20 years ago two notable authors – John Newstrom and Mary Broad — published research that is still relevant today. Transfer Of Training: Action-packed Strategies To Ensure High Payoff From Training Investment

For leaders seeking to achieve large-scale service improvement with a powerful education program, this research is critical.