The 12 Building Blocks of Uplifting Service Culture – Part Two of Two
By Ron Kaufman
7. Voice of the Customer. Key drivers of satisfaction at Microsoft include product quality, value for money, security, accuracy, and speed of solutions. But that’s not everything the company’s customers and partners value. Microsoft carefully studies the millions of words and phrases people type into free-form comment fields every year. Through careful analysis of these “verbatim” comments, the company discovered other drivers that also make a difference, including “Microsoft is easy to do business with,” “Microsoft cares about me,” and “Microsoft helps me grow my business.”
The voices you gather may come through formal means such as survey forms, hotlines, comment cards, and focus groups, or through social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. Wherever it comes from, whatever it says, the value you gain from the Voice of the Customer is achieved only when this river of input connects with a team that wants to hear it, understand it, and do something about it. When these vital voices are shared with service providers throughout your organization, they contribute immediately and powerfully to a better service experience.
8. Service Measures and Metrics. Think of the last survey you were given at the end of a flight, a meal, or a hotel stay. Or the last survey you were asked to complete online. Were you really glad to see it? Do you feel your responses made a difference? Surveys are commonly used to measure satisfaction, assess loyalty, evaluate staff performance, and find areas for service improvement. But these evaluations are notoriously unpleasant for customers to complete and difficult for people in organizations to decipher.
Surveys are a great example of how Service Measures and Metrics can become disconnected from the practical levers of power. Collecting data and crunching numbers can easily become a separate function or a department, fueled by the urge to gather ever more data. Service Measures and Metrics are most effective when they help you prioritize what’s most important from customer satisfaction to customer loyalty to employee engagement. Measure what matters to focus attention, design new action, and create positive service results.
9. Service Improvement Process. This is where customer complaints are wanted and welcome, where survey reports are carefully examined for new ideas and insights. A Service Improvement Process creates synergy by connecting people between levels and functions. Some issues require ownership on the front line, involvement from the middle, and sponsorship from above. Other service issues are quickly solved by teams working across silos.
A well-designed Service Improvement Process promotes communication across functions, divisions, and departments. It stimulates collaboration across levels, languages, and locations. With thoughtful planning and invitations, you can also tap the creative energy of your customers, vendors, distributors, and even your government or industry regulators.
10. Service Recovery and Guarantees. Would you log a customer complaint into a system if it might get you into trouble? Probably not. This was exactly the problem Xerox Emirates found it was having with its Customer Care Management System. So the company changed courses and created Bounce! Instead of blame and shame, Bounce! presents shortcomings as an opportunity to elevate service.
When a problem occurs, employees are encouraged to make it bounce by raising the level of the company’s service much higher than it had been to start. Now, rather than ignore customer complaints or try to cover them up, employees see them as opportunities to be recognized and excel. While the number of complaints logged into the Bounce! system has increased substantially, the company’s “satisfaction with service recovery” scores have also risen dramatically.
The goal of this building block is to create a culture that earns and retains many loyal customers while building pride and problem-solving passion in every service provider. Confidence is the key. When customers are confident about the service you deliver, they will return, refer, and recommend. When team members are confident about your commitment and your culture, they will work enthusiastically to deliver uplifting service.
11. Service Benchmarking. Everywhere you look, best practices are waiting to be discovered. Where is it enjoyable to test or try a sample? Häagen-Dazs wants you to sample every flavor. Which organizations are great at teaching new customers how to get the most from their products and their service? In Portland, Oregon, Apple buses senior citizens from the local community center to its stores and teaches them to use a computer, some for the very first time. Which company is best at bouncing back if you are not completely happy?
Service Benchmarking reveals others’ best practices and points to new ways you can upgrade yours. Remember, your objective is a self-sustaining culture distinguished by uplifting service, not just valuable data points for tactical service improvements. You want to develop a focused team of service providers who seek to understand: How do other leaders create uplifting service experiences for their customers and colleagues? What can we learn, then adapt, adopt, and apply to improve the service we deliver to our customers and to each other?
12. Service Role Models. Four times a year, the general manager of a well-known exclusive hotel in Paris becomes a bellman. The refined gentleman greets guests at the roadside, places their bags on a luggage trolley, and escorts them to their rooms. He uses these opportunities to get feedback from guests about what they do and don’t like about the hotel and any other suggestion they’re willing to share. On these days, he eats in the basement cafeteria with the rest of the staff, and talks with them about their jobs, answering any questions they might have. He cherishes these four days, as do the members of his team.
He’s the epitome of a service role model. But what’s important to remember and to emphasize with your team is that everyone is a service role model. Leaders, managers, and frontline staff must walk-the-talk with powerful personal actions every day. Being a service role model is not just for senior managers and members of the leadership team. It is what happens every time people can see what you do, read what you write, or hear what you say in an internal or external service situation.
Anything is possible with the right architecture. You can build amazing buildings, and you can build cultures of service that are equally amazing.
When all the 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.
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