What is our biggest challenge when we map our customer journeys?

Customer Journey

The short answer to that is that we are deeply biased. Despite all our good intentions about delivering superb customer service, we time and again end up seeing the situations from our own point of view. And using that point of view, we make assumptions about what we think the customer is experiencing. But unless we actually walk in their shoes, we have no clue what they are experiencing.

I see this time and again when I give workshops that introduce Service Design to groups of service providers. In order for them to really understand what this is about, I let them try it for real. So we pretend that they are a group of city tourism planners that need to improve the tourism experience in our city. In order to do that, I let them choose a persona situation and set up their hypothesis (or assumption) for this experience.

One team of three said that navigating the Copenhagen subway is very hard if you don’t speak Danish. Another team of three had the assumption that tourists easily pick the wrong kind of restaurants and end up in the tourist traps. And other groups pick other similar situations that they felt had some problems seen from a tourist point of view. So we sent them out for a 3-hourr field study. Armed with just their iPhones, we asked them to bring back proof in the form of pictures or recorded testimonials that confirmed their basic assumption (so that we could start working on ideas for improvements).

So what happened?

None of the teams could prove their assumption to be correct, none. What they thought a tourist experience was like (here in their own home city) was nowhere near what the tourists said they experienced.

So then I had to ask them: So how many of the assumptions that you have made about how your customer experience your service do you think are accurate?

Food for thought: How can we test our own assumptions about our own service product?

The same way as we did with the tourists. We get out of the office and we observe, document and collect lots of testimonials in the actual situations (not post-experience 6-page surveys, please). With that raw data, we can now start truly talking about what we need to do to improve our various touchpoints.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to do that ground work, your next best solution is to ask a group of students (Anthropologists or service designers) and have them do the real-time observations for you.

Map out the guest journey. Record your assumptions at the critical touch points: “Our breakfast is the best in town.” or “Our meeting facilities are perfect.”; “Guests think our coffee shop has the perfect selection.” Now ask the researchers to prove you right if they can.

Don’t forget: Assumption is the mother of all f… ups.

This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future’s posts, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…HERE.

If it is all about loyalty, does satisfaction matter?


It is true that in the Service Profit Chain framework, there is a huge emphasis on establishing loyalty; loyalty is the key driver of profit and growth.

Before we can even hope to establish a relationship that will lead to loyalty, we must ensure that we have a firm grip on the basics and that we can deliver on our promise every time. The keyword here is consistency, the key driver of basic satisfaction.

Consistency or lack of consistency is also one of my pet grievances. Consistency is the flip side of reliability. If as a customer I had a great experience last week, you as a service provider have implicitly promised me that I will have the same experience when I return next week.

If not, you are not only unreliable in my eyes, but you are also performing below my expectations, and we all know that meeting expectations is the first key to customer satisfaction.

This is a balancing act because, on the one hand, we would like to see creativity and initiative on the part of our teams, but on the other hand, we need to deliver a product that is as expected.

The name of the game is to generate repeat business. Customers return to get more of what they enjoyed the first time. If they don’t get that, then they could just as well have gone somewhere else.

Just think back for a moment about how many times in your life you had a great experience somewhere, and then went back only to find that what you had last time was not what you got the next time. Did you go back a third time just to make sure?

Probably not.

Where do you go frequently? Most probably to a place that is very consistent in some aspect of their service delivery that is important to you. That consistency is what brings you back.

Requiring consistency in the delivery process is universal across all types of services. It is the foundation of your success, and that applies to all service businesses, the way your insurance company processes your claim, the way the consultant interacts with you, how your auditing firm performs the audit. You return to the same supplier in all of these situations because you liked the way he or she did the work.

Together with emotions, consistency is an important element in our ability to recall one service experience more easily than others. You remember the consistently good experiences. They stand out. You have a much harder time remembering inconsistent experiences because you easily confuse them with all of the other inconsistent experiences that you have had.

Customers come back to experiences that consistently live up to their expectations. When that happens, we call it loyalty. Loyalty is built on consistency. Never forget that.

So take a good hard look at your basic processes, are they consistent?

This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future’s posts, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…HERE.

What do you need to focus on if you in order to create a dream team?

Dream Team

In my view, the three cornerstones in the thinking behind the concept of the Service Profit Chain are:

  1. Customer Loyalty – as the key objective
  2. Value – understanding the true need of the customer
  3. Dream Team – the people that actually make it happen

We have already looked at Loyalty and Value in the previous post.

In this post, I would like to explain the 6 key ingredients in creating a dream team:

The Right People

Careful selection of new recruits. Hire for attitude. Train for skills. Coach for performance and that includes dealing with the bad apples.

Continuous Improvement

Best in class training and development at all levels in the organization. Continuous improvement is considered one of the great benefits of the job. “In this job, I grow”…

Great Support Systems

Service is not just something the frontline does for our customers. Service is our culture. Employees and managers, who do not have customer contact, service the employees that do. (Our IT department is not the IT-Police – it is an internal service department that supports the frontline in getting the job done.)


The best service employees take pride in solving the problem on the spot. So the freedom to act is hugely motivating. Southwest Airlines famously tells its employees, ”You may do anything you are not uncomfortable doing to solve a passenger’s problem.”

Clear Expectations

In the same way, that anyone who has made it to a great sports team knows what is expected of them, employees in the best service organisations also know what is expected of them. It is part of their motivation to be part of a team that is not afraid to set the bar high. Candour is a key element of high-performing teams.

Appropriate Rewards and Recognition

Focusing on what works, celebrating success, and acknowledging each other’s contributions makes work meaningful.

The principles are not complicated. There is no magic  involved. But it requires commitment and persistence to get it right. When you do, the benefits are amazing.

You can download the Dream Team checklist below and benchmark yourself!

This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future’s posts, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…HERE.

What is the difference between satisfaction and loyalty?

Loyalty and Satisfaction

In a world of abundance, too much of everything, what we also sometimes describe as hyper-competition, understanding the difference between satisfaction and loyalty is also the key to profits and growth.

There are many different ways of defining loyalty out there but this is my favourite one (not one invented but I can’t for the life of me remember where I found it): A loyal customer is someone who is willing to pay a bit more for your service than they would have to pay somewhere else for a similar experience.

Think about that for a moment…

If they are paying the same price to you as they would pay anywhere else, they are not loyal. It is just convenient for them to do business with you. And if they are paying less, you have just bribed them to stay with you.

So there you have it, satisfaction is manly about avoiding dissatisfaction: Delivering on the primary results in a consistent and reliable way, what Tom Peters so famously called Ho-Hum.

There is no loyalty in satisfaction. It is just Ho-Hum.

Loyalty is about a connection. Loyalty is emotional, not rational. Loyalty is Wow! You have this ‘feeling’ about a place, a product.

Just think about all the stuff that you own. Of all the things in your possession, which ones are in your eyes brands and what are just products?

It’s quite simple: A product or service becomes a brand when you have a feeling for it.

And then we are back full circle to the Service Profit Chain because things do not create emotions, people do. When I think of a certain hotel or café that I am very fond of, it’s the people. They have some people who have made an effort and established a connection with me, and yes I will gladly pay a premium for that emotional connection. It makes my day.

This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future post, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…HERE.


Why the Service Profit Chain concept is more important now than ever before?

Service Business

Check out Google trends, the interest in customer service and customer experience is steadily rising year by year and has been for the past 5 years.


Because we live in an age of abundance – this is one of my key points when I give live presentations. By abundance I mean that there is too much of everything. There are more hotel rooms, restaurant seats, cars for hire or consultants etc. than the market actually needs. So we are all trying to survive in a hyper-competitive environment.

In a hyper-competitive environment, it is not enough to try and compete on product specifications. Because within a given price bracket, the specifications for most product are more or less identical. So in order to differentiate, we need to look at the experience and that typically means that we add some service components.

On top of that, we are rapidly moving away from products and into services (Just think cars, in a few years when cars become self driving, they will no longer be products but we will see them as a service). So society is moving to service dominant logic. And when products are turned into services, the focus shifts, it is not about the product spec but the customer need.

If we want to compete on experience and service, we need to focus on the interaction between the frontline staff and the guest/customer – what we also call the touch points. That is the critical interface – that interaction can lift what is otherwise just a bland run of the mill experience into a memorable experience. And when that happens, we create loyalty. High customer loyalty is the key profits a growth.

So some companies launch major initiatives around creating loyalty. They see that as their main objective.

But that is only because they are not paying attention to the principles of the Service Profit Chain – in a sense they have got the wrong end of the stick.

There is no shortcut to the profits and growth. You need to take the long haul and that starts with creating an inspiring and engaging workplace, and that is what the concept of the Service Profit Chain can help you do – and that is why understanding this key framework is the best way to survive in a hyper competitive environment.

Check our my course The Service Profit Chain explained!


This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future post, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…HERE.

Why my fear of roller coasters does not keep me out of amusement parks

Helix - Liseberg - Gothenburg
Helix – Liseberg – Gothenburg

They scare the living daylight out of me those roller coasters.

Intellectually I understand that they are safe, probably safer that taking a taxi to the airport, statistically… but still. It’s always been like that, so maybe in a previous life I was traumatised by a roller coaster gone wild. Anyway that is not the point of this final blog post of the year. The reason I mention it is because paradoxically this year I have seen more incredible roller coasters and heard more delighted shrieks from thrilled crowds than at any time previously in my life. More on that in just a minute.

Yes I am in a reflective mood.

You see, technically, this week is just like all the other weeks, but somehow in our mind it’s quite special. It marks an ending and a new beginning and we all get in this mood of yearly review and even more importantly setting new bold goals for the coming year.

All my lovely blogging colleagues are probably bombarding you with: The ten best books you should have read, the eight new trends that you must understand or (flavour of the year) the twelve point action plan that will make this your best year ever!

So why the roller coasters?

Well believe it or not, this was the year that I got to spend considerable time in amusements parks!


As always I have been doing work with my loyal gang of regular hotel clients, but I also got to spend time at Efteling in Holland introducing the Service Profit Chain for IAAPA. In Copenhagen, we introduced a new approach to leadership development at Tivoli gardens and I had the honour for 16 weeks to take a group of seriously enthusiastic managers from Liseberg in Gothenburg through the GROW leadership program.

So what am I learning?

I think my key takeaway this year has been confirmation that at the end of the day, being a great manager is deceptively simple on the surface, and incredibly hard to do well in practice. It’s like juggling. You see the guy rotating 5 oranges in the air and you think: “That’s neat. I can do that.” You pick up the oranges and you understand that there is a gap between knowing and doing.

The 5 oranges of management that you need to juggle have been elegantly formulated by the Gallup organisation based on their extensive research of hundreds of business and managers.

Great managers have these talents/skills/abilities:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
  • They make decisions that are based on productivity, not politics.

That’s it! But again this is just more information, and I am sure you don’t need more information.

What you need is probably execution, the HOW part.

So that brings me to next year. Early 2017, we will be launching the Team Leader’s Toolbox – a training program aimed at helping busy mangers learn quickly how they juggle their ‘oranges’. Leave me a note here if you would like to be notified when we launch that program.

We have been exploring this theme of Leadership and Management over the year on the blog as well and if you missed some of the posts you can download a compilation in the form of ebook HERE.

Thank you for reading my blog. If there is anything you would like to see more (or less) of next year, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I love hearing from my readers.

Merry Christmas and my best wishes for the coming year!

team-leaders-toolbox2Enter your email address below and we will notify you when we launch the Team Leader’s Toolbox!


This post is one of a series where we are exploring the notion of leadership and how this is different from management. Our starting point is the Service Profit Chain and the understating that the management part of our job will only take us so far. If we really want to create an organisation that is capable of delivering outstanding customer experiences, we need to develop an organisation that delivers outstanding employee experiences – and that requires leadership. You can check out other articles of the series below:

  1. Are you an inspiring leader to work for?
  2. What does it require to be an inspirational leader?
  3. The something for something system is at the heart of the uninspiring workplace.
  4. How is team management different from team leadership and why should I worry?
  5. Teams are organic systems, and therefore, by definition unstable.
  6. How you can help you team manage their states
  7. Do you understand the stages that your team goes through?
  8. What the h… went wrong?
  9. Who gets the last chef?
  10. Progress drives engagement – So how do you focus on progress?