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Taking Service to the Stratosphere: Service Orientation and Communications

Jun 26, 2012

Posted by

Ron Kaufman

Ron Kaufman is a popular keynote speaker and is the author of the New York Times bestseller Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers Read more

Taking Service to the Stratosphere: Service Orientation and Communications

The second in a series focusing on creating uplifting service in today’s marketplace

Editor’s Note:  The material in this feature, and in the three weekly features that precede and follow, has been excerpted from Uplifting Service:  The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet, a new book by Ron Kaufman

The book is available at bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers. (Evolve Publishing, 2012, ISBN: 978-09847625-5-2, $14.95, www.UpliftingService.com).

There’s nothing much more stressful than trying to manage one’s way through a trip requiring transferring between airplanes at multiple airports and in multiple countries. Nothing, that is, except trying to manage one’s way through the home selling and buying process!  And whether you are one of the service providers—real estate agent, lender, closing agent, etc.—or the customer or client, the “service experience” can make a huge difference.  And the chances of a client or customer referring others to the agent or company depend largely upon that experience.

See previous feature for steps 1 through 3

4. Service Orientation. Unfortunately, many company orientation programs are far from uplifting. Often they are little more than robotic introductions: This is your desk; this is your password; those are your colleagues; these are the tools, systems, and processes we use; I am your boss; and if you have any questions, ask. Welcome to the organization. Now get to work. These basic introductions and inductions are important, but they don’t connect new employees to the company or the culture in a welcoming and motivating way.

Service Orientation goes far beyond induction.  “Zappos really gets this. Its four-week cross-department orientation process is an example of new-hire orientation at its finest—deeply embedding and delivering on the company’s brand and core value, ‘Deliver WOW Through Service.’  Zappos understands that new team members should feel informed, inspired, and encouraged to contribute to the culture.

It even offers an out for new hires who realize the culture isn’t for them.  If you think the culture isn’t a perfect fit for you, the company will pay you for the hours you’ve put in so far, plus a cash bonus to leave now with a smile.  The amount started at $100 and has since been raised to a whopping $2,000.  Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is actually thinking of increasing it again because not enough people accept the opt-out offer.  The point is not paying people to go, but making sure the right people choose to stay.

5. Service Communications. A company’s Service Communications can be as big and bold as a sign in the front of a store proclaiming that the customer is always right or as simple as including employees’ hobbies or passions on their nametags.  Service Communications are used to educate and inform, to connect people, and to encourage collaboration, motivate, congratulate, and inspire.

They’re essential because they can be used to promote your service language, expand your service vision, showcase your new hires, announce your latest contest, explain your measures and service metrics, and give voice to your customers’ compliments and complaints.  Service Communications keep your people up-to-date with what’s happening, what’s changing, what’s coming next, and most of all what’s needed now.

6. Service Recognition and Rewards.  Service Recognition and Rewards are a vital building block of service culture. They are a way of saying “thank you,” “job well done,” and “please do it again” all at the same time. Recognition is a human performance accelerator and one of the fastest ways to encourage repeat service behavior.

While money may seem like the most obvious reward for employees, it isn’t always the most effective.  In fact, a well-known automobile dealership learned this lesson the hard way.  It paid its sales team a special bonus for achieving high levels of customer satisfaction.  But when bonus payments were curtailed during an economic downturn, customer satisfaction levels also fell.

Genuine appreciation fully expressed makes a more lasting impact on any employee.  And there are tons of great ways to reward and recognize.  You can do it in public, in private, in person, in writing, for individuals, or for teams.  You can do it with a handwritten letter, a standing ovation, two tickets to a concert or a ball game, an extra day off, dinner for the family, a star on the nametag…I could go on and on. Recognition and rewards are great ways to show gratitude from customers, admiration from colleagues, and strong approval from leaders of the organization. They can drive service commitment and behavior to even higher levels and are more memorable and emotional than simply receiving money.

Next Installment, July 2:  Voice of the Customer, Service Metrics and the Service Improvement Process.