Uncommon Service – Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business

A Refreshing and Pragmatic Approach On How To Deliver Excellent Customer Service

“Uncommon Service – How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business”

Uncommon Service - Customer Service through customer centricity
By Frances Frei & Anne Morriss
Published 2012
By Harvard Business Review Press

– Create an environment within your organisation where all employees focus on delivering excellent customer service.

In this recently released book, Frei and Morriss identify four key dimensions to achieve excellent customer service. Organisations need to both recognise and manage each of these areas effectively.

Customer Service Dimensions

Four dimensions of business for delivering customer service:excellent customer service feedback
– defining your service offering and how customers will perceive customer service excellence
– defining the mechanism for funding customer service excellence
– defining the employee management system to allow employees to deliver customer service excellence
– defining the customer management system to facilitate the improvement of customer experience

Service models need to be designed around all of these dimensions.

Each dimension is broken down, analysed and backed with relevant, contemporary case studies.
Case studies are drawn from organisations spanning finance, retail, travel, healthcare and freight services.

The authors contend that customer service excellence comes at a price, and that price is the tradeoff between being good at everything or being excellent at your core competency.

Trying to be the best at everything is counterproductive to customer service excellence. Deliberate tradeoffs can lead to delivering excellent customer service in those areas that your customers value most.

The key to this approach is in identifying those service attributes on which you are competing for customers, then determining how to fund service delivery in those areas, define management systems and business processes to facilitate employees in delivering excellence in those areas, and finally, managing the customer experience.

Customer Service – Link to Leadership and Organisational Culture

The strength of this book lies in linking the identified four dimensions with the requirement for a strong organisational culture; a culture that has clarity of purpose, is consistent with the organisational strategy, structure and operations, and is effectively communicated and universally understood within the organisation. This requires leadership to create a culture and environment that reinforces the service model at every touchpoint.Organisational Culture - happy customer service team

Frei and Morriss conclude by highlighting that “employees are yearning to be of service, customers are eager to do their part, and organisations can, in fact, change overnight”. As with most challenges in life, change commences with a clarity of vision of what is possible, and the unwavering belief in realising that vision.

It is this pragmatic approach in “Uncommon Service” that is refreshing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is delivering a customer service.

Australian and New Zealand customers can purchase this book through the link on our Recommended Reading page (under Resources).

Please share your comments below!

Read more here: http://uncommonservice.com/

Return to: Customer Experience Services

Employee Engagement Awareness on the Rise

Is Employee Engagement Awareness on the Rise?

A review of current business articles highlighted a number of tweets, posts, and media articles over recent days and weeks that focus on employee engagement.

This comes on the back of the media hype over the increase in online consumer sales, with Australian retailers being told to lift their game and pass savings onto consumers and to actively compete with online offerings.

Disengagement versus Employee Engagement

The Human Resource Magazine recently noted that an “overwhelming 82 per cent of workers in Australia feel disengaged or disconnected at work” and that this “is costing Australian businesses billions of dollars in lost productivity”. And even LeasePlan Australia, one of the country’s leading vehicle leasing companies, noted in its latest “Roundtable” newsletter that worker disengagement amounts to a “global epidemic” and challenges its workers to become more engaged in service delivery.

These comments appear to be based on the results of a recent Gallup survey. Through its research over recent years, Gallup have developed a series of employee engagement indicators, linked to financial performance, to benchmark and grow employee engagement.

The Employee Engagement Challenge

The challenge is to ensure that employees are engaged with the business goals and strategies to a point where everything that they do positively contributes to successful customer outcomes. To implement employee engagement requires leadership from top management, effective communication and effective deployment of resources.

This article on the Sydney Morning Herald site questions whether managers really know what motivates their employees and suggests that employers need to treat their staff as their number one customer. It also quotes presenter and author, Ian Hutchinson as saying that “employees don’t leave organisations, they leave leaders”.

In the book “Employees First, Customers Second”, Vineet Nayar (2010) (https://www.vineetnayar.com/) narrates the journey he took in turning around HCLT by increasing transparency across the company to engage employees and empower them to be the catalysts for change and to create value for customers, the company and ultimately themselves.

All of this points to a tangible disconnect between staff motivation and company strategy. How can staff deliver consistent, quality service if they are not motivated and have not committed to the company strategy? For effective employee engagement, a key question to ask is whether management teams are failing in defining and communicating the company direction to their staff, or whether the wrong staff have been deployed within the company.

Key Employee Engagement Questions

How does your company rate in the employee engagement stakes?
Is a lack of employee engagement impacting your workplace?
What’s required to improve employee engagement?

Please share here, or leave a comment below –

Service Recovery Window

For organisations providing a service to customers (ie. most organisations), there will be times when the service delivery doesn’t match the customer’s expectations. This occurs when the customer’s expectations are not clearly understood or managed.

Organisations that are specifically service-based, differ from those that manufacture products. In both instances, there is a requirement that needs to be satisfied. However, while we can measure when a product is delivered, or if it meets a design criteria, we often struggle to quantify if a service is satisfactorily delivered. In many instances, we don’t even try; we don’t know how many repeat customers we have or how many went elsewhere and never return after experiencing our service.

In delivering a service to your customers, do you ask if they are satisfied? Do you do this as a matter of course? Is it part of your standard procedure? If you don’t, how would you do this? What opportunities do you have to solicit their feedback?

The answers to these questions will depend in part on the actual service you are providing. The duration of the interaction you have with your customer will impact on your capacity to seek their feedback. For example, how much time do you spend with a customer in identifying their needs and then fulfilling them? After you have delivered your service, how long does your interaction with the customer last? Do they have the opportunity to assess the service and provide feedback before you break contact with them? Do you conduct any additional follow up with them?

For example, as customers, we can easily identify when a meal is not to our expectation. We can readily identify our concerns to the restaurant staff. If the fuel economy on our car is excessive following a routine service, do we identify this to our mechanic? Do we even know? If we are a tour operator, the perception of customers at the beginning of their holiday may well be different than at the end of their holiday. How do we capture that? As customers, when do we decide that a service is not adequate? It may be almost immediately, or it may be some days or even weeks later.

As a provider of services, we need to identify that our customers may not be in a position to assess our service delivery for some time. When our customer’s expectations are not met, what do we need to do to recover this failure? What strategies do we have in place for effective service recovery? Do we provide a service guarantee? Is it effective?

The first rule of service quality is to do it right the first time. But we need to remain receptive to feedback and the opportunities to solicit additional feedback even after the financial transaction is completed. And when things do go wrong we need to act quickly to fix them and be in a position to provide solutions. We need to remain aware that the opportunity to fix issues has a very finite window – the service recovery window. Our capacity to provide solutions where and when they are identified is incredibly important for maintaining our customer relationships. How we manage service failures and our response, will directly impact our future business and our bottom line.

The key to minimising service failures is in having a clear understanding of our customer’s (every changing) expectations. If we are actively seeking to continuously improve our service delivery, then the number of potentially dissatisfied customers should be few. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that we can perceive all possible points of failure and just hoping that things won’t go wrong. Rather it is necessary to have a plan of what actions we will take when service failures do occur.

To discuss customer service strategies, service recovery or placing the customer at the centre of your business, go to our contact page.

Stephen Nicholson
Principal Consultant

BPM Systems