Service Commitment

The Importance Of Building An Organization-Wide Service Commitment 

Business culture has many nicknames and euphemisms for a change initiative that isn't well-supported, or doesn't address the core problem. Flavor of the Day. This too shall pass. Band-aid. I'll outlive (insert name of executive or project) anyway. Spray and pray. You could probably think of more phrases—many learned through personal experience within your current or past organizations.

Change is tough for an individual and, unfortunately, there's no economy of scale when changing an entire organization. You have to bring each person along one at a time. That point seems lost on many managers, because we all grow up using the euphemisms, but then sometimes turn around and add our own stopgap examples to the joke. Let's look at it from another perspective. 

As a consumer culture we love stories of really good or really bad service—and, especially, of heroic service recovery. But for every legendary story of service recovery, there's always that nagging question of why the service failed in the first place. Did the service fail because the employee didn't know the right thing to do? Did the employee not care about good service? Maybe the employee wasn't able to deliver the expected service because of some resource gap—in time tools, or training. Intuitively, every business person and consumer knows that the unique effort enabling the service recovery is not the long-term solution; once the excitement has passed it's hard to get either side to demonstrate the same fanaticism. We honor the home run, but not the consistent base hits. It is important to recognize service recovery, but also a commitment to deliver stellar customer service every day. Fortunately, if a manager can muster the energy, then achieving systemic change in service—and, as an outcome, improved customer satisfaction and loyalty—is a straightforward process. Achieving systemic change in service is certainly big and audacious, but it's attainable. And it's reliant on organization-wide commitment.

The first actions toward systemic service change are about giving definition to what needs to be accomplished. The results need to be tangible, measurable, and specific. As with any process, the more questions asked, the more successful the outcome.

1. Secure an accurate set of data to assess the current customer experience.

2. Clarify the intended role of customer service and satisfaction as a strategic driver for your business in the near and long term.

3. Define what customer service means at the organization.

4. Set specific and accurate measures to best capture critical information on customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty.

5. Clarify the value proposition for your customers.

6. Clarify the customer relationship process o from end to end.

7. Map the customer experience or transactional processes to uncover potential “positive defining moments” from the customer perspective.

8. Create and launch a comprehensive communications plan.

9. Review and align current customer service policies.

10. Determine a set of selection criteria for new employees – and for those who represent the organization in the market – that reflects the customer service commitment.

11. Train, train and train …. 

12. Periodically measure progress, then communicate and celebrate success.

13. Institute an ongoing, continual improvement approach to customer service.

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