Think of the companies in our world known for outstanding service. One thing is common across these organizations – founders and leaders who have declared service to be a top priority, and who align all other practices in the company to make it so. Senior leaders who lower the priority of service should not expect a culture of service excellence to grow.
So how do leadership teams align and build commitment? These four leadership practices deliver value and results:
Put service first on the meeting agenda, not last.
Declare service a top priority consistently and constantly. Raise service to a lofty position in your speaking, writing, meetings, marketing messages, websites, newsletters, blog posts, video clips, workshops, and in your daily actions. Measure leader success with service success.
Declare a “service excellence” showcase day and invite your clients and appropriate media to attend.
This puts a stake in the ground for your leaders and departments to demonstrate to clients the effectiveness of their service improvement efforts. Create a contest. Give recognition for ideas that lead to quantifiable service improvement. Promote the results internally (newsletters, intranet, etc), as well as externally (with clients and in the media).
Use the 12 Building Blocks of Service Culture to assess your current practices.
Identify practices that do not support a service culture and change them. Align your activities in various building blocks togain synergy and harness greater impact. Many well intentioned organizations discover too late, for example, that their efforts to improve service are lost to rewards systems that only compensate sales, or hiring practices that favor technical skills over attitudes committed to service.
Many leaders measure too many things, or place inordinate focus on year-end numbers and survey results. Staff struggle to engage with these metrics as they are lagging and arise only after their work is done. Instead, measure and reward closer to the action.
Where do your people connect with customers and colleagues? How many new service ideas are they creating, trying, and implementing at these vita perception points? How many new service actions are they taking to upgrade and uplift service?
Measuring and recognizing new ideas and positive actions from the bottom up leads to early wins that build commitment from employees – and deliver results to keep it growing.