Service is that gnawing problem that is an issue across many industries. Late flights, being on hold, dry cleaning that arrives with new spots, equipment that does not work according to expectation and then fails — all these issues are the soup of poor service issues.

We are definitely in the zone of damn mad and not going to take it any more. The Silent Majority has no one to scream at—but rest assured they will take their dollars elsewhere.

The Internet was one of those concepts that was going to provide more choice, more access and visibility. Yet, we now have an extreme service failure with most online businesses. The hilarious personalization of advertising a method to analyze you and provide you in selected choices—in reality—it eyeballed space to the highest bidder. You pay for a subscription and when you log in, it tells you this might not be a secured site—do you wish to continue. If you say no, then you can’t have access to your own subscription that you paid for. To avoid being sued, I will leave out the name of that so-called reputable venerable universally know brand.

This month we will look at the problem from many angles. First, read The Interview. Shoshana Zuboff of the Harvard Business School and James Maxmin of Mast Global, co-authors of The Support Economy tackle this problem of how the Internet self-service model has failed people. And not just the Internet, but fundamental corporate structures have abandoned customers.

From there we move to the Stanford/Wharton Service Supply Chain Forum we just attended in Palo Alto. This forum of senior executives, many of them competitors (Lockheed and Boeing, UPS and DHL, Cisco and Lucent, etc.), is coming together annually for leaders in service management.

One key problem in services is the extreme outsourcing of the chain—some of this is working and some is not. So, Carla Reed will offer some observations about what’s wrong with outsourcing service.

The root cause, of course, is in designing—or not—for serviceability, which Bill McBeath addresses this month. As well as the Quality issue. Dave Tabor also has a take on this.

What is key from meeting with and talking to both consumers (remember the people who pay?) and the providers, is the challenges involved in reaching and caring for customers. We have a long way to go! I invite your comments on these articles and the topic of service, in general.

On another critical note—one that supersedes all others—is the election.
We just fought a war theoretically to create Democracy in other parts of the world. In addition, other nations have voter turnouts in the 80% and up. And we just saw a huge event—it’s been over twenty years since people had an open vote in Afghanistan. What an inspiring event to witness. Yet not enough Americans exercise this treasured privilege.

Whatever your point of view—please vote!

See you next month!