I'm Leading a Service Culture, So Why Aren't They Following?
Written by Susan Hoekstra
Leading a culture of excellent service can't be something you put on a few times a year, like a pair of pants, and expect to achieve measurable results. Service is something that needs to be constantly and consistently communicated, reinforced, and measured by everyone...
Because so much has been published in recent years on the customer experience, including studies that demonstrate firms who embrace a culture of excellent service are more profitable, more and more firms want to jump on the bandwagon and say they're customer-service oriented.
Senior management may assign one or even a few employees with the responsibility of delivering a culture of service excellence. They may furthermore hold a few meetings a year and talk about the importance of service. They've been supportive, they've made announcements declaring service is important; where are the results?
In order to achieve results, however, much more is necessary. Detailed steps are spelled out in my book The Service Journey and in my advanced customer service webinar class offered through Business Expert Webinars. More than anything though, it is important to recognize service is a change in culture, a change that impacts everything and everyone within the organization, every time. Service is not only about identifying individuals whose job it is to make sure the organization is service-oriented, and it's not only about discussing the importance of service. It's about taking that talk, and converting into action, committing to delivering an excellent service experience for the long haul.
One of the best analogies I can think of is that of a dieter. I could conceptually understand and agree that it is important to be healthy. I could read all the diet books that exist and devote a great deal of time conceptualizing about it. I could even speak about it or tell someone they are responsible for me being thin. But unless I convert that head knowledge into something that results in a change in my behavior, and do so not for a day, but for a lifetime, long-term results will not be realized.
Similarly, service needs a change in behavior, employee by employee, client interaction by client interaction. And, because your clients' poor experience may be something that occurs with an individual, a product feature, or a policy, there is nothing and no one you can exclude from your service excellence program.
Leading a culture of excellent service can't be something you put on a few times a year, like a pair of pants, and expect to achieve measurable results. Service is something that needs to be constantly and consistently communicated, reinforced, and measured by everyone in the organization. Leading the journey isn't necessarily an easy one. But the results are worth it.
Next time, we will discuss another leadership pitfall to avoid in the quest to delivering excellent service.
Susan Hoekstra is principal consultant of Susan Hoekstra & Associates and author of The Service Journey. She has a proven 25 year history developing customer service strategies and solutions including strategy development, training, presentations, recognition programs, surveys, and contact center CRM technologies.