Creating a Service Oriented Culture, Written by Phil Ventresca, M.B.A.

Customer Service has always been a critical success factor in business. However, technology advancement, customer demographics, and generational change all impact the way we deliver and perceive service.

Forward thinking organizations are exploring the concept of a “service culture” by embracing the behaviors of service vs. the actions of it. Simply stated; what will we do, whom shall we be, and why do we want to? The answer to those questions are much wider reaching than the point of service delivery its self. Service contact points must be authentic and delivered with a level of personal ownership that leaves your consumer feeling like they are the most important person in the world at that exact moment. These moments may only last seconds, so it is imperative to make them count.

The backbone of a service culture incudes:

• Well thought out mission and vision that can be understood across the enterpsie.
• Clarity of who you are, who you want to be, and why you want that.
• Understanding of the impacts, risks, and assumptions around accomplishing (or not) your service goals.
• Measurable milestones for the service journey.
• Competancy and behavioral models to showcase execution.
• Personal growth and performance accountability.
• Corporate growth and performance accountability.
• ROI measurements based on internal and external feedback.

The above steps will help model a service culture that demands both accountability and ownership across all levels of the organization. However, this approach does not guarantee good service, it only sets the framework in place to manifest it upon good execution. Other moving pieces are driven by the DNA of the company; people, process, technology, and organization. These drivers and performance guides will ultimately enable the service culture. Good leadership, consistent modeling of the service culture, and supportive organizational norms will contribute to your success.

Great service driven organizations like Disney look inward to accomplish the best service culture. Through hiring practice, training, and most critically, leadership they reinforce this norm upon each customer interaction. Feeling as though you are in a “show” part of a cast and about to be on stage is a technique often used to remind each contributor of how critical their individual role is.

Organizations who succeed with the application of a service culture benefit in many ways:

• Customer retention.
• Customer referrals.
• Employee sense of accomplishment.
• Elevated pride in ownership.
• Pride of workmanship.

How do we get there?

• Baseline your current service orientation.
• Build a 1/3/5/7 year plan that ties to the strategy.
• Produce a strength/weakness/opportunity/threat (SWOT) analysis to refine your plan.
• Build a model to communicate the service culture.
• Set an execution strategy to deploy the standards.
• Measure at all levels.
• Change as needed to include the voice of the customer (internal and external)

Summary:

Service is no longer just measured at the point of customer contact. Service is part of the wider organizational strategy and culture, thus it is also part of the DNA. In order to execute at the highest level each aspect of the operation has to embrace the culture and thus will be intrinsically innovative, growth oriented, and dynamic in the market, thus competitive. There will be challenges along the way with generational diversity, intellectual capacity, and cultural norms. Everyone sees, feels, and expresses the definition of “service” differently. Howver, there is a way to bring that together and that secret lies in our abilty to be genuine and “care” for each point of contact with an empathetic and sincere energy. This is not taught, it is modeled and takes time, continuity, and the organizations willingness to not only build but abide by the standard at all levels.