Improving Service is a Journey that can be Engineered

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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 as a top priority, align all other practices in the company to make it so. Top leaders who consistently lower the priority of service should not expect a culture of service excellence to grow.

So how do leadership teams align and build commitment? Here are four leadership practices that consistently deliver:

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 all leaders and departments to show your clients their service improvement efforts and service improvement results. Create a contest and give recognition for ideas that lead to demonstrable service improvement.

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 to
gain 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.

Measure what really matters.

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 are your people working with customers and colleagues each day? How many new service ideas are they creating, trying, and implementing? 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 the results to prove it.

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