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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Where does world-class service come from?

I've been reading a great book on service called "What's The Secret?" by John DiJulius. His writing has stirred a lot of my thoughts for me and has caused me to reflect a lot on what I believe regarding service. It has also caused me to remember my own experiences with service.

The quote I'm pondering today is "World-class service is not something you deliver. It's a result of something you are."

When I think of this quote, it takes me right back to thinking about the foundation of any organization, good or bad: culture.

OK, so you know that outstanding service is a key component of any successful business. Let's say that you've received feedback from multiple sources that your organization's customer service is sincerely lacking. You're not happy learning about your poor service level and you know it needs to get better right away. What do you do? As a boss or leader, you can't go to your team one day and say, “Listen up, people. Customer Service needs to tighten up right now. You need to start treating our customers better.” Well, you can, but there’s a good chance that your words will fall flat and fail to cause any significant changes to happen. Come on; your service levels probably didn’t become what they are overnight.

So how do you get your people facing the right direction? You need to start by asking yourself where they learned or failed to learn how to provide the outstanding service. You have to start at the beginning. You need to revisit what? You need to revisit the culture.

What is the culture of your team? Take a look at some of the primary components that make up a business culture and you can better answer the question:

Management Style -– Are you a micromanager or a heavy-handed boss? Or do you foster an environment where your people feel empowered to develop new ideas and to “do it their way” (within reason) as they work to fulfill the mission?

Respect -- Do you provide world-class customer service for your employees? Do you treat them with respect? Do they know you value them and their ideas? Do they treat each other with respect? People aren’t going to provide your customers what they’re not receiving, themselves.

Training -- Do your people know your expectations? Can they envision the customer service you seek? Do you have programs in place to teach them how to do their jobs well and provide the level of service that you want?

If you ask yourself the status of any of the above areas for your team, find them wanting and then respond with “I don’t have time to do that or build that”, you’ve already lost. You’re never going to move your team ahead toward providing the world-class service that you want and your customers deserve. Instead, you need to commit to living the culture you want with your people, modeling it just as parents model behavior for their children.

Are there other ways to help ensure your people are providing world-class service to your customers?

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