If your company is going to pursue building an uplifting service culture, leadership must initiate and support the process. But service leadership must be extended and ultimately embraced at all levels of the organization. Let’s take a closer look at how to lead from all levels.
Unusual people and events have powerfully shaped my life, and the lessons I’ve learned from them are the roots of my unrelenting passion. My grandmother was my earliest inspiration. She taught kindergarten in New York City for 40 years, and when I visited her class, I felt like the most important person in the world. My grandmother made everyone feel like the most important person in the world.
For the past 40 years I have been on a mission to improve the world. The vision that motivates and sustains me is a world in which everyone is educated and inspired to excel in service to others.
In support of this mission, I have flown more than ten million miles, visited three hundred cities, and worked with businesses in every industry from high fashion to high technology, government agencies, schools, associations, and voluntary service organizations. I help people become better service providers, and help organizations build uplifting and self-sustaining service cultures.
Don’t start only with customer-facing teams. Starting your service transformation with customer-facing team members might seem like the obvious move. But if your objective is to build an uplifting service culture, this approach can be very problematic. Because your people in “customer-facing” roles interact with customers daily, they already understand that service is important. They know that upset customers complain. They know happy customers are easier to serve. What they don’t know is how to fix the behind-the-scenes issues that often affect the customers’ perceptions.
Read the other tips for a fast and furious customer service revolution…
You know you’ve got unhappy customers so you’ve decided it’s time to do a complete service overhaul. You’ve spent hours with your C-level executives crafting a strategic plan and making sure your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed. The idea is to roll out the new plan in one area of your company—for example, your call center—and get things under control there before you move on to the next department. Over time, as you get your strategy perfected and everyone buys in, you’ll surely reap the benefits. Makes sense, right?
Sorry, but that’s no way to start a revolution…
When all the 12 Building Blocks are in place, you create an uplifting service culture where everyone is fully engaged, encouraging each other, improving the customer experience, making the company more successful, and contributing to the community at large.
You step off the plane, weary from a long flight. As you walk through the terminal, you can’t believe your eyes. The airport is immaculate with walkways as wide as roadways and not a speck of litter anywhere. As you move deeper into the terminal, you see a butterfly garden, an outdoor swimming pool, playground equipment, a four-story slide, napping rooms, spa treatments, and entertainment venues including movie theaters and video-gaming stations. Airport employees eagerly greet you with smiles and ask how they can help.
Have you stumbled upon some air traveler’s mirage? Is this an illusion in the familiar airport desert of grim décor, stressed out passengers, rude counter agents, and crowded gate areas? No, this oasis of pleasure is what things are really like at Changi Airport in Singapore—and it’s the perfect illustration of what service can (and should) look like in our global economy.
In my last blog post, I described the six most common reasons why customer centricity initiatives often fail. One of these is the lack of commitment demonstrated by senior leaders in the organization.
Here at five types of leaders you see most often, and their level of involvement:
I have been in the field of training, leadership, and organizational development for over 20 years. Through all these years, I have heard a one message (and complaint) from practitioners, consultants, authors and gurus: for cultural change to succeed, top leadership must support it. It’s amazing. This message is so consistent. And there is so much evidence to prove it!
Yet the issue persists as a key barrier to successful culture change.
2011 was an extraordinary year. There were more revolutions around the world, violent and otherwise, than we’ve seen in many years. These dominated local and global news channels, political and business conversations, and the attention of people everywhere. Even Time magazine acknowledged the Protester as the Person of the Year.
Some of these revolutions were due to growing frustration at their countries’ dysfunctional systems, some were more forward looking. Most began as independent affairs, not creations of specific political parties. Many were enabled by easy access to—and the global reach of—technology (social media in particular).
They all had one thing in common – millions of people were committed and involved. These revolutions were not triggered by inspirational leaders with answers to problems – in fact, very few people even knew the solution, the sentiment that mattered was ‘I know what I don’t want’.