The “Business” Service Leadership Agenda
The Defining Moment of Truth
In a thorough review of the survey results combined with recent Fortune 1000 company consulting experience, it is my opinion that customer service “hall of shamers” lack service strategy, leadership and excellence. Being a customer service “hall of famer” is about doing the right thing for the right reasons with principled-centered leadership to defend those decisions in a transparent way – A Customer Defender!
The Service Trifecta; Strategy, Leadership and Excellence
According to Harvard Business School Professor John P. Kotter in his book Leading Change, successful organizational change must start with a renewed sense of urgency. Service strategy design must be aware of the voice of the customer and the business to better design innovative customer services that deliver business benefits. Delivering exceptional customer service(s) to customers must be a top-down priority and the strategy should be cooperatively delivered across all business functional areas. Leaders should be held accountable for the delivery of service excellence with shared goals and performance objectives tied to their bonus and compensation. As a service leader, we long to hear the senior executive’s directive echoing in the halls, “You all work for a customer service organization!”
In fact, this mantra and customer service strategy is what makes Zappos so successful, so profitable and why customers are so loyal. Tony Hsieh, the visionary CEO of Zappos is fanatical and focused on engraining customer service into the Zappos culture and holding everyone accountable for the customer experience. His book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose is a wonderful factual read of achieving the business benefits of service excellence though the efforts of a visionary service leader with a service strategy centered around the customer experience. There should always be business benefits for designing customer service(s) that are innovative, customer-focused and adaptive addressing both customer and business needs while innovatively creating a service differentiation.
Great service leaders know that at the end of the day their customers are the only reason why they are in business today and that the people that serve those customers are the business.
With all that is expected operationally and tactically of service leaders, it’s a wonder they have time to create, articulate and sell a service vision and strategy. In a distracted and reactive day, it’s difficult to find time to be strategic when you are delivering tactically. This is where planning the work and working the plan can help service leaders. In creating a service strategy framework, it is first required that you make and take the time to do it right the first time. A strategic framework is a requirement for aligning structure, procedures, process, tools, people and measurements with the overall goal, mission and purpose of the business. A service leader is required to communicate a well-written vision that motivates and inspires people to change for all the right reasons. They must simply explain their strategy, their continuous improvement roadmap and the expected business benefits and consequences of either achieving or not achieving the desired end-resulting state.
Sometimes getting started can be the hardest task of all, especially with all of the white paper staring you in the face. So get started, but remember, start from the end and work yourself backwards.
Remember, envision the end first!
Always remember to continually ask yourself, “In the end, how will I know if we are successful? And remember — the arrival must be empirical, quantifiable and visible.
In developing your service excellence culture, performance expectations, targets and metrics, you must ensure that the following service excellence objectives are integrated into all that your service organization does.
The service leader should always ensure that their services portfolio maps correctly to their objectives and that their organization is performing the right work for the right reasons.
In conclusion, I challenge all service leaders to set the bar high for yourselves and your team, constantly measure and continuously improve to create a culture of encouragement, empowerment, appreciation and results. It comes with focus, eliminating distractions, planning and working relentlessly toward the end goal. “Business” service excellence is entirely dependent on how your stakeholders define it. Since you are accountable for delivering it, it’s important that you always find the time to listen to them, the business customers. In short, success comes to service leaders who continuously align their service strategy with company business goals and objectives and ensure that all the moving pieces are integrated to achieve these desired, measurable business results. Service leaders use this success strategy to inspire themselves and motivate their teams to provide valued business services to their customers. Remember, your customers are depending on you to make their voice heard and to defend them! Don’t let them down!
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