Transforming Service through the radical reconceptualisation of Service

We are trapped in out-of-date limiting unhelpful concepts

In my last post I asserted that dead concepts are limiting how customer service, customer experience, customer-centricity show up.  My point was that what we see, how we see it, what we focus on, what we do and the results that show up cannot be ‘greater than’ the concept we live/act from.  I say that service sucks because our concept of service sucks.  Put differently given the existing concept of service that holds us prisoner it is enviable that service sucks.

In this post I want to put forth into the world radically new conceptualisations of service.  My intention is that these reconceptualisations will jolt you out of being prisoner to the existing conceptualisation of service that his holding your prisoner – even if you do not know that you are being held prisoner.

My intention is not only to shock you, it is also to give you openings to transform your relationship to service and thus transform the way that you and your organisation think about and act when it comes to service.  If you do that then there will be a transformation in the way that your service shows up for your customers.  Are your ready for this jolt?

Radical reconceptualisation 1: Maz Iqbal on Service

Service is a gift that one human being bestows on a fellow human being.  The fundamental basis and the desired outcome of Service is human dignity itself: honouring our shared humanity – the best of our shared humanity as in when we move-touch-inspire and elevate one another. The kind of humanity that can move us to tears of joy.

Service requires the calling forth of my humanity and putting it into the world.  And as such Service is founded on vulnerability.  My vulnerability in the sense of putting myself at risk for the sake/benefit of my fellow human being – I may be ignored as if I am an object and not  human being, I may be misinterpreted, I may be criticised, I may be rejected…  And my recognition of the vulnerability of the person I am serving: he could be out of his depth, place his trust in me to do the right thing by him; he could be in a bind and expose his vulnerability by asking me to bend the rules, to make an exception; he could be in a bind that he needs the job done and I know he will pay any sum I demand; he could be and often is vulnerable in so many ways.

Service necessitates that I be totally present in the present and to the presence of the person I am serving.  Only when such presence is present is it possible for me to be responsive to the need of the person I am serving – modulating my being, my actions, my speaking and my listening such that I show up as ‘caring’ and ‘trustworthy’ in the world of the person I am serving.

Service comes forth most easily from those of us who get joy, fulfilment, satisfaction out of reaching out and touching the lives of our fellow human beings, for the better.

It is critical to get that Service is a mode of being in the world, a certain state of consciousness, it cannot be faked: if I am in this state of being then the majority of techniques and tricks that are usually imparted through training are unnecessary; if I am not in this state of being then all the techniques and tricks will not make enough of a difference for me to show up as being caring in the world of the person I am serving.”

Radical reconceptualisation 2: Werner Erhard on Service

“My notion about service is that service is actually that kind of relationship in which you have a commitment to the person. What I mean, in fact, is that for me what service is about is being committed to the other being. To who the other person is.

To the degree that you are, in fact, committed to the other person, you are only as valuable as you can deal with the other person’s stuff, their evidence, their manifestation, and that’s what’s service is about. Service is about knowing who the other person is and being able to tolerate giving space to their garbage. What most people do is is to give space to people’s quality and deal with their garbage. Actually, you should do it the other way around. Deal with who they are and give space to their garbage.

Keep interacting with them as if they were God. And every time you get garbage from them, give space to garbage and go back and interact with them as if they were God.”

My question of you

Are you up for transforming service?  Are you up for being a leader when in the area of service and through service generating the kind of loyalty you crave?  If you are then I have provided you with two openings.  I can hear you thinking that it is not easy, it is a BIG ask.  Yes it is.

Let me share a secret with you: one of the keys to Jobs success was the ‘reality distortion field’ – not being bound by people’s existing concepts of ‘reality’ and ‘what is possibility’.  Jobs was a master of inventing, projecting, living into and from the possibilities that he created in the face of no agreement from just about everyone around him.  Do you have that kind of passion, that kind of courage?  Leadership requires both the ability to invent radical-inspiring possibilities and the passion-courage to act, to make them real.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

8 thoughts on “Transforming Service through the radical reconceptualisation of Service”

  1. Maz, this hit me like a ton a bricks. What you’re advocating here is the difference between playing it small and taking the courageous leap toward reclaiming our humanity in business.

    I couldn’t help thinking of the conversation we started in that last post when I heard a manager talk about his company’s customer service department yesterday. He called it a Customer Love department. I could only shake my head and think, “What a load of cynical crap.” I really wanted to stand up and ask, “So, define ‘love’ for me. What does it honestly mean to love someone? Do you and your employees really ‘love’ your customers or is this a delusional ploy for the sake of appearances?”

    But, as I mentioned in the last post, I find myself struggling with these notions of idealism and reality. Can we succeed by being fierce advocates for a more noble path where customers, employees, and partners are treated with sincere respect for their being? Maybe – possibly – this is how we differentiate ourselves from the 98% who misuse language and stifle the humanity that needs to return to business.

    Thank you for inspiring me to think differently and more deeply as I take these first steps in building my own business.


    1. Hello Chris

      What is seen as reality today was once viewed as idealism. Dive into history and you will see that time and again. Christianity was once seen as totally delusional. Islam was seen as totally delusional. Aeroplanes were seen as totally delusional. Computers becoming mainstream was seen as totally delusional.

      Wasn’t it George Bernard Shaw who is quoted as saying:

      “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

      Isn’t Steve Jobs the latest most visible example of what Geroge Bernard Shaw is pointing at here?

      Yes, we play small. That was what made Steve Jobs great – he refused to play small. He was committed to something other than himself and his needs/concerns. He was committed to bringing beauty into the world through electronics. And that is what he did. He played BIG and took the consequences. You can argue that he paid the ultimate price – an avoidable death. There is always a price to be paid for greatness. And it is easier to pay this price when you get the truth of the following:

      “Almost everyone tiptoes through life only to arrive safely at death!”

      Inspiration: I am delighted that your listening has found my speaking valuable, inspiring. And I thank you for letting me know – knowing that I am living my stand, making a contribution, makes a huge difference to me. So I thank you for the gift you have bestowed upon me.

      I was grappling with kindness. After grappling with it and grappling with it I finally came to understanding it as:

      “Kindness is that the difference that one human makes to the quality of living of another human being such that this latter human being would mourn the passing away of the first human being”

      I thank you for your kindness to me – I would mourn your passing from my life: it occurs to me that we are ‘fruits of the same tree’.

      Be great: put your humanity into action.

      With my love


  2. Hello James

    It depends on which lens you use to view the world, which context you operate out of. If you operate from the context of ‘customer experience’ then service is essential and you provide the very best service and you make sure that you set the right price. Steve Jobs showed the truth of that. Zappos has shown the truth of that. Some say American Express has shown the truth of that as well.

    Or you operate from the context of driving profitability and then service is a drain on profits and you cut service. Ultimately you end up being a commodity players who has to rely on all kinds of tricks and dubious practices to ensnare and keep customers. If you are in oligoplistic industries then you can get away with it. The best examples being Financial Services, Energy (Oil,Gas, Electricity) Water and Media companies. As News of the World scandal has shown – it is easier and more profitable to buy the politicians than it is to create genuine value by coming up with products that are genuinely different and contribute to the customers lives like Jobs/Apple/Pixar did.

    And I suspect your comment was sarcastic!

    All the best


    1. It was Maz, I’m afraid. The lowest form of humour

      But I agree, it all depends which lens you view the world through. And i suspect there are many who see it that way, without the benefit of sarcasm.

      Thanks for the response



  3. Hi Maz,
    I would like to see this type of transformation not just in service in a business context but one that encompasses the whole of our lives.

    Well said and I’m up for it and with you,



    1. Hello Adrian

      Your comment, your response shows up as delightful. I am in total agreement and if it is not clear then I’ll say it out loud – that is my commitment not only for the area of customer but for business as a whole.

      I am grateful that I am not a lone voice and that this is also your orientation.



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