Seasoned service profit chain leaders such as Harrah’s view their Ownership Quotient (OQ) building efforts as closer to a science than a craft. Think of the OQ as both a measure of the effectiveness of policies and practices that enhance value for customers and employees and a predictor of future organizational performance. In the chapters of the book we’ll concentrate on selected policies, practices, and measures employed by organizations likely to be found at the head of rankings in both customer satisfaction and as good places to work.



We began by conducting an extensive literature search of research and case studies that tested and demonstrated the impact of the service profit chain over the past fifteen years. This work included revisiting case studies we had written on organizations such as the New York Police Department and ING Direct, but for the most part, we decided not to revisit organizations such USAA and Southwest Airlines, about which we have written extensively elsewhere. We then selected a core sample of companies that had been recognized for accomplishments such as high customer satisfaction, best places to work, or significant market share, assuming that these were organizations that could demonstrate best practice on two or more links in the service profit chain. To these we added several other companies about which we learned, in some cases through direct interviews, during our study:

  • Baptisit Health Care
  • ING Direct
  • SAS
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop®
  • Irving Oil, Ltd.
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
  • PrairieStone Pharmacy
  • Wegmans Food Markets
  • Harrah’s Entertainment
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • EMC2



James Heskett / W. Earl Sasser Jr / Joe Wheeler



Chapter One – Introduction

This chapter is designed to help you find your own combination of ingredients that will work best for your organization. In the chapters that follow, we help you see how you can do just that. Increasing your ownership quotients starts with developing a strategy that delivers differentiated, customized value to customers and employees.


Chapter Two – Building Ownership into your Strategic Value Vision

This chapter features how ING Direct, the world’s fastest-growing thrift organization, has designed experiences based on a vision that provides compelling value for its targeted customers and employees. At the core is an intent and capability to deliver customer and employee experiences that exceed expectations at critical moments of truth that each truly values. These expectations are centered on results (rather than products or services) and provide a focal point for everything from business definition to policies and practices to growth through business development that extends and enhances the value you deliver.


Chapter Three – Leverage Value over Costs

This chapter explores how customized offerings often carry a higher value for customers, but they don’t need to cost more. That’s where value levers come in. They take many forms. For example, at PrairieStone Pharmacy, an innovative chain of retail pharmacies, levers range from the redefinition of the job of pharmacist to unique applications of technology. Rackspace Hosting achieves leverage through its unique customer-centered, team-based organization and distinctive Racker culture, all supported by a common technological base.


Chapter Four – Put Customers to Work

Did you know that many customers are more than happy to put themselves to work for their favorite brands? A company that invites customers to help create the kinds of value they desire is offering them the opportunity to control some aspects of their purchase. With that control comes the chance to customize the aspects they value most, and with that chance comes an expanded sense of ownership. From involving hernia patients in their own recovery at Toronto’s Shouldice Hospital to creating an online community for frequent business travelers at InterContinental Hotels, the possibilities for putting customers to work are limited only by the imagination.


Chapter Five – Boost Your Employee OQ

This chapter discusses the ways you can foster value and a sense of ownership for employees. Your customer OQ is a function of your employee OQ. Beyond satisfaction, loyalty, and commitment, employee owners experience real pleasure in their ability to deliver value for customers. They offer suggestions for improving the business and making it a better place to work, and they identify and recruit other high-potential employees. How do you boost the sense of ownership for employees? The companies in our sample do so by learning to create the kinds of value that matter most to employees. Not surprisingly, financial compensation represents only one aspect of the value employees seek. Recognizing this, companies such as Baptist Health Care, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Wegmans Food Markets, and SAS create what we call a cycle of capability: a self-reinforcing set of activities that helps employees feel like winners when they deliver winning results for customers.


Chapter Six – Engineer Ownership Through Anticipatory Management

This chapter describes how Harrah’s Entertainment, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and other organizations are taking the concepts of the service profit chain to a new level. Business literature is filled with reports of companies investing heavily in CRM, data warehousing, direct marketing, supply chain management, and other enterprise-wide systems to improve almost any business metric one can imagine. Your own organization may have implemented some of them or may be considering such efforts. But true customer delight often results from the creation of “one enterprise” centered on employees and customers, operating from a common base of extensive information about customer behaviors and organization capabilities, with functions working side by side and encouraged by multifunctional team incentives to achieve coordinated solutions. The goal is to address employee and customer needs before they arise-a kind of anticipatory management-rather than merely react to them.


Chapter Seven – Build a Strong and Adaptive Ownership Culture

Explore how leading service organizations are building a strong and adaptive ownership culture. Baptist Health Care, Irving Oil, and SAS, among others, are developing much more than a loyal customer base. They are enlisting a community of owners among employees, customers, and suppliers from which they endeavor to obtain customer referrals, constructive complaints, and suggestions for new products and services as well as ways to help improve the business. These organizations know the power of creating such an ownership culture and community. They know how little it costs to do so. And they recognize the value of their investments in sustaining the gains in profit and growth.


Chapter Eight – Sustain Your Success

What does it take to sustain your success as an organization that fosters ownership? Google, the company Fortune magazine recently identified as the best place to work in the United States, offers an inspiring example of management practices that engage employee and customer owners to help create the value that both groups desire. But can Google sustain its success? And can the OQ work for companies in less glamorous industries, even those that risk commoditization of the products and services they deliver? Cemex, the best-in-Mexico producer of cement and related products, thinks it can. So does Lanham Napier at Rackspace Hosting – and so do we. We’ll tell you how and why we’ve come to believe in the power of the philosophy represented by the ownership quotient.



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Free Tools and Assessments

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