The 7 tenets of service greatness

When I started as an SAP consultant and clients looked in desperation at the grey, confusing SAP screens, we would say “well, it doesn’t look great, but it does wonders”, and would actually think “suck it up, man/lady, this is for the greater good!” Times have changed. Client executives now often say “but they will never want to use that!”… Which I am glad to hear, since I now focus on the human side of things (and the tools that empower humans, instead of using them as cogs).

SAP screen yay

On their side, SAP made their applications more look-able, accessible and usable. Beyond SAP, the whole software industry moved to better experience and ease of use, pushed by startups who promote user experience over features (easier for them, admittedly). And beyond the software industry, consumer electronics, high-tech have seen a similar shift. The consumerization of IT and other business tools is a slow, yet massive, and absolutely positive trend.

Yet, this evolution of products pales in comparison with the one of services. We now demand great experience. We expect great experience. And experience goes far beyond the product itself. It starts way before a product is acquired, and ends long after it is disposed of, again both in the consumer and business markets.

The difference between great product and great experience is service. And service is provided in most industries by human beings. Even in web-based  services like Netflix, where service delivery is automated, the service is initially designed by humans, the infrastructure maintained by humans, and the glitches handled by humans. Humans are at the center.

Butler serving wine

Here is a great video of Ron Kaufman, summarizing the tenets of a positive service culture that delivers uplifting experience and delights clients. Not surprisingly, it comes back to the human side. This is why customer success is of prime importance.

As usual, if you don’t want or can’t watch the video, here is my interpretation of Ron’s tenets. The bold titles are his, the descriptions are entirely mine – in case you disagree, you can go and check Ron’s book.

  1. Declare service a top priority: Don’t just write it in a mission statement. Scream it out as a commitment. Define what it is for you, what it means for them (your clients). It will be different in each company. Celebrate it when it happens. Call it and own it when it doesn’t.
  2. Be a great role model: Embody the qualities you defined for your service. If listening is one, be the best listener. If punctuality is one, be on time at meetings. Always. If follow-up is one, own the next action sand make the check-on-you call. Always. You. First. So they see you mean it.
  3. Promote a common service language: Explains what service is in your company. Explain what it is not. Explain what good and bad looks like. Explain how it happens. Let others do the same. Show it. Make sure people get it.
  4. Measure what really matters: Measure the actions and pieces of insight that will drive a great customer response, which in turn will drive market share and profitability. Financial measures are merely a consequence of those. They tell you too late that you did poorly.
  5. Empower your team: Show them what to do. Show them how to do it. Mentor. Let them try. Celebrate their successes. Support them when they failed meaning well. Encourage. Work with them. Coach. Empowerment is not “hop, here’s the hot potatoe!”.
  6. Remove the roadblocks to better service: Policies. Politics. Turfs. Rules. Pre-established limits. They will all get in the way. Rid off them. If you can’t, make sure your people tell you which ones get in the way. Help them get around those.
  7. Sustain focus and enthusiasm: Heroes. Rituals. Legends. Celebrations. These are the things myths are made of. these are also the things great organizations are made of (thanks, Francisco D’Souza). Refocus your people through rituals. Find your heroes. Celebrate their feats. Make them legends. More will want to be heroes.

The points above can be checked on Ron Kaufman’s website: here. There is much to say about most of them, and I hope we will share about some of these soon.

2 thoughts on “The 7 tenets of service greatness

    • Hi Fred, great to meet you through your ping back. You aggregate very interesting articles on your blog. It could interest some people I know. Let me know how you want to catch up (email, phone, or simply LinkedIn) so I can do so.

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