Thoughts ...

What’s a bicycle lock got to do with service …

I’ve talked about ‘service‘ in the past and if asked? Would probably the most used word I use after ‘interesting‘ and ‘really‘ – to my wife’s annoyance.

You alway know when you’ve received great service, it doesn’t come in a package, in a hand shake or as a large deposit in your bank account, it something you feel.

Good service has been described as providing value to customers in the form of services.

Following on, it’s said that service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks

– phew, that’s a bit wordy but what does this mean?

Let’s take a generalised example, having dinner in a restaurant with a loved one (girl/boyfriend, wife/ husband … plurals of all the above, if you relish complicated lives) on a special occasion should be different from any other time you have dinner together. 

The setting should be perfect, the attention to detail should precise, your journey: on arrival, being seated, ordering, receiving your courses, the quality and standard of your food, the approach & interaction with waitering staff and the timeliness of the whole evening should be magical.

What you are seeking is a great, fantastic, magical outcome but do not wish to know or be responsible for the service costs or risks. 

In the example you don’t want to be responsible or even be aware of the staff, equipment, produce, infrastructure or processes in place. You don’t want to be accountable for all the associated costs and risks, real or nominal, actual or perceived.

There will be a team of individuals within the restaurant with specialised knowledge and experience in providing a ‘special evening‘ and the confidence to control the associated costs and risks by allocating these to every cover, customer and order.

You’d say every restaurant would have these controls in place, but why are some better than others? … I’d say it would be a case of ‘horses for courses‘, the world is rich in diversity, customers have differing expectations of what is fair and what is good value.

An analogy I use is a greasy spoon vs Le Manoir; Aldi Vs Waitrose and a bed & breakfast Vs The Peninsula Hotel.

All three offer food, shopping and somewhere to stay respectively but we use each of them at different times – yes your budget comes into this and is a huge determining factor where you go. 

My point is that when you receive great service it invariably will be built on your initial expectations, your initial views being exceeded by the value and journey at the time of consumption.

Great service is quite rare and most organisations don’t achieve it. Like a bicycle combination lock with 4 digits, they need all four numbers to come up before the lock opens and excellent service is discovered. 

The majority of organisations have the combination to two or three numbers and never coming up with the fourth. 

I tried to create the list of the four combinations and after sometime realised that there isn’t a combination that fits all – as with customers, organisations are as diverse in their offerings – so as a punt, here is my list for restaurants:

1. Understand your customer’s needs and requirements. Target customers, Try and not be all to all men.
2. With this, keep you service offerings simple and clean
3. Be punctual, timely and honest. 
and the final combination to the lock …
4. Understand your ‘moments of truth’ and add value to all interactions with customers.

Emm … you’re probably thinking ‘really’, whilst I’m thinking – that’s ‘interesting’ …



Photo credit: Leo Reynolds / / CC BY-NC-SA