Skip to Main Content

Discovering the Soul of Service

The Nine Drivers of Sustainable Business Success

About The Book

This wise and inspiring book by Leonard Berry, moves far beyond his pioneering work in services marketing and service quality to explain how great service companies meet their toughest challenge: sustaining long-term success.

In a world where customers regard flawless products as a given, service is the key differentiator between competitors in any field.

From Berry's exacting study of fourteen mature, highly successful, labor-intensive companies comes an astonishing revelation: the single most important factor in building a lasting service business is not a matter of savvy business practice, but of humane values. In all fourteen award-winning companies -- Bergstrom Hotels, The Charles Schwab Corporation, Chick-fil-A, The Container Store, Custom Research Inc., Dana Commercial Credit, Dial-A-Mattress, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Midwest Express Airlines, Miller SQA, Special Expeditions, St. Paul Saints, USAA, and Ukrop's Super Markets -- values-driven leadership connects with strategic focus, executional excellence, control of destiny, trust-based relationships, generosity, investment in employee success, acting small, and brand cultivation to drive customer satisfaction, innovation, and growth. Dedicating a chapter to each of these nine drivers, this book is the most far-reaching and insightful vision ever presented of the principles and step-by-step actions that continuously bring success to life in a company.

Berry's comprehensive model reveals the soul that underlies the strategies and day-to-day operations of great service companies, guiding the thousands of daily decisions of individual employees. Clear, compelling, pathbreaking, Discovering the Soul of Service is essential reading for managers everywhere.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Group Questions
1. What does it mean to be a service company? Is your organization a service company? Are you a service provider?
2. Like money in a bank, values are the company's treasure. What are your company's core values and how do they compare with those values discussed in the book? How can an organization acquire such values?
3. What does "values-driven leadership" really mean? How can values-driven leadership actuate sustainable service success? How can a company's leadership articulate, cultivate, and reinforce organizational values?
4. What are the common traits of an excellent core strategy? Should an organization's core strategies ever change? How does an organization know what to preserve and what to change? What does "listening for innovation," mean?
5. How do great service companies control their destiny? What are the advantages and disadvantages privately held companies have in controlling their destiny? How can public companies sustain control of the business?
6. Why are trust-based relationships important in success sustainability? How can organizations build trust with customers, employees, business partners, and shareholders? What level of trust does your organization have with each of these constituents?
7. What does the author mean when he discusses investing in employees' success? Is this a practiced approach in your company? What implications do these employee investments have on the future success of the company?
8. Is it possible to be a large company yet act small? How can large companies act small? How can small companies retain their nimbleness, responsiveness, teamwork, and personalization as they grow and mature?
9. When a company creates value for customers primarily through service, the company becomes the brand. How do you describe your company's brand? How would customers describe your company's brand? How do you communicate the brand to various stakeholders?
10. Is generosity an outcome or input of success? How can generosity contribute to a company's success both inside and outside the organization?

About The Author

Product Details

  • Publisher: Free Press (July 13, 1999)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780684830865

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

Tom Peters author of The Circle of Innovation Waiting for the "masterwork" on service? Wait no longer. Leonard Berry's Discovering the Soul of Service is it! A brilliant book, eminently compelling case studies from Charles Schwab to Midwest Express. It doesn't get better than this.

David Glass President and Chief Executive Officer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. A blueprint that will work for anyone wanting to sustain successful service. A must for anyone interested in service businesses.

Garrett H. Jamison President and Chief Executive Officer, Banc One Investment Management Group A treasure for anyone truly serious about sustaining a service culture.

Robert L. Tillman Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Lowe's Companies, Inc. Captures the essence of what is required to sustain success in a labor-intensive service business. An outstanding book.

Jerry Richardson Owner/Founder, Carolina Panthers A world-class resource on leadership values and the human side of business.

Stanley Marcus Chairman Emeritus, Neiman Marcus Len Berry holds the black belt in customer service.

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Leonard L. Berry