The lost art of service: Creating Nth degree experiences – Outside Insights Podcast Episode #4

by placers on February 19, 2021 in Outside Insights


In a world of self-service portals and customer service lines that proudly announce “that your call is important to us. There are just 48 callers in front of you, and your wait time 1 hour and 6 minutes” there has to be another way. You know real service when you see it. But how can leaders deliver it and build it into their business?

Business owners and employees are all looking for an edge, something that makes their business or personal brand shine brighter than the next. Why not through customer service? Burkhards call this the concept of Nth degree.

There is an internet meme that proposes that Chick-fil-a should be hired to administer COVID vaccines. If you do not have Chick-fil-a in your town, they are known for more than just great chicken. They are known for the individualized service and always going the extra mile to provide exceptional experiences. They’re also known for being closed every Sunday, exactly when you’re craving a chicken sandwich, but I digress.

Chick-fil-a has Nth degree service in its DNA. Even the most simple things compound to make big service differences. For example, when you say “thank you” Chick-fil-a employees don’t respond with “youre welcome” they say “my pleasure”. According to Chick-fil-A lore (not yet an established genre), the chain’s founder, Truett Cathy, got the idea while staying at a Ritz Carlton. When he said “thank you” to a hotel employee, he was pleasantly surprised when the employee replied, “my pleasure”. In Cathy’s mind, those two small words made the Ritz Carlton stand out as a luxury establishment, so he brought it into practice in his own restaurants.

Which is no surprise really. The Ritz Carlton co-founder, Horst Schulze, led the hotel chain to become the gold standard in service excellence. And his book, Excellence Wins, is a worthy read. The Ritz Carlton has a reputation for never cutting service corners. They expect greatness out of their employees and give them the tools and trust to be excellent.

In this week’s podcast, we’re back with our podcast regular, Alan Burkhard, who shares his journey towards perfecting Nth degree service. We discuss:

– Alan’s view on the history of service.
– Why Nth degree service works best when you have a culture that supports it.
– How you can make the cultural adjustments needed to provide Nth degree service.
– How to take a segment of your business and make it Nth degree. Multiple small changes make a big difference – there’s no better time to start than right now.
– How to apply Nth degree service the right away and how to create value for your customers.
– How to get real customer insights to gather their actual perceptions.

PS) at Placers we take our Nth degree service seriously. Our purpose for existing is to create Nth degree service experiences. Service without boundaries. And our employees get the following coin and $500 dollars whenever we catch someone having a broad impact on our customer base and creating enhanced Nth degree experiences. Service is why I started the company, and a part of our core values.

Author William James wrote, There are very little differences in people, but the little differences make a big difference. Little adjustments make a big difference. That’s what Nth degree is all about. Normal people realizing all that they’re capable of and focused on being their best.

If you’re a business owner, how will you begin to create Nth degree experiences for your customers? If you’re not a business owner, you can still create Nth degree value for the people in your life. How will you get started?

Until next time,


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