The Leader’s Role in Service Education

By: Ron Kaufman

Service education is only effective when learners take new actions to create more value for customers and colleagues.

As a leader, you have a personal responsibility to ensure that new learning is ‘put to work’ on a daily basis.

Here are five action steps to make this happen:

1. Be a role-model of uplifting service.

  • You are being watched! You’ve got to be a personal example of the service culture you want to create. Your own actions must demonstrate excellent service to customers and to colleagues. Key members of your staff must also set personal examples of excellent service when acting or communicating on your behalf.
  • You must master the service language (and understand the principles) in your service education program. Use this language in all your meetings and written communications. Encourage the use of this language by others. Insist on it, recognize it, and praise others when they use it.

2. Be a passionate link between your service strategy and your people

  • Communicate constantly about the importance of creating greater service value, for customers and for each other.
  • Explain your organization’s service strategy, goals and objectives. Everyone must understand how their daily actions contribute to success.

3. Move your organization from education into action

  • In Service Education, your people will learn fundamental service principles to improve internal and external service. But education is only effective when learning is put to action, and when action creates value for others.
  • Ask these questions frequently:
    • “What did you learn?”
    • “What new actions did you take?”
    • “What new value did your action create for our customer?”
    • “What new value did your action create for your colleague?”
  • Ask for service improvement suggestions. Your managers, supervisors and frontline teams are closest to your customers. They will give you new ideas if you ask! Bring these new ideas up for review and send back the best with your full support for implementation.
  • New ideas and actions may require new resources. Your job is to commit resources prudently and remove roadblocks quickly.

4. Create a positive environment for new service actions

  • Mistakes will occur when people take new action. You must make it safe for your team to take prudent risks. Demonstrate with your words and your own examples that mistakes are opportunities to learn, improve and grow.
  • Customer complaints are also opportunities to ‘bounce back’ and create unexpected levels of value. Get involved when things go wrong. Make it easy for people to bring you their problems, and their suggested solutions.

5. Actively support your service education program. Don’t just delegate, participate!

  • It’s easy to think that service education is a function of the Training Department. Don’t make that mistake. Service Education is the foundation for an uplifting service culture that becomes your sustainable advantage.
  • Join a class, attend a graduation, record a video, encourage your Course Leaders. No one can replace your role as a visible and powerful service leader: don’t just delegate, participate!

See ‘The manager’s role in service education