Top Ten Tips to Foster an Organizational Culture Change For Superior Service

Promising to provide “excellent service” is no longer enough for your customers or your staff. Excellent at what? You need to be clear to foster an organizational culture change.

Excellent service in a hospital is warm and caring, but that’s not what you want at a computer store or car wash. Some restaurants are fast and inexpensive, but that may not be what you want when you go out for dinner.

The Japanese have twenty different words for “quality” – each with a different meaning: durability, craftsmanship, design, efficient use of materials, packaging, presentation and more. Your customers have as many different words and meanings for “service.”

Find out what version or style of service your customers VALUE most, and then match your service philosophy to meet their needs. This will help promote the organizational culture change you’re after.
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Build it into your Mission, Vision and Values, your newsletter, training, recruitment, orientation and rewards program. This will ingrain your organizational culture change focus.
Singapore has been working for years to upgrade service skills and uplift the service mindset in the nation. There is even a national movement called “GEMS: Go the Extra Mile for Service.”
But service providers also need uplifting goals and a motivating rationale. So we wrote the “Singapore Service Champion’s Pledge” to promote organizational culture change.

Everyone must be committed to live your service values every day. If they are not, organizational culture change cannot happen.

As the College grows, Sim Kay Wee coached me to insist on new staff alignment with these values. He warned that high-performers who are not aligned with the values can damage your reputation and hurt the morale of your team.

So what do you do with a high performing salesperson or brilliant technician who behaves contrary to your values?

You help them change, or let them go. If they don’t support the organizational culture change you’re after, they will only harm your business.
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Texas Instruments conducted an experiment to measure the impact of new staff orientation. One group got the usual induction: workplace rules, employment benefits, office equipment, passwords.
A similar group received the same, plus two months of occasional meetings with service leaders, top customers and senior managers.

Twenty years later the two groups were compared. The second group scored higher in every category, including positions, promotions, pay, longevity and contributions to the company culture. This group fit in better with the organizational culture change Texas Instruments was after.

Make the early investment to see organizational culture change efforts pay off. Make sure new staff experience the best of your service culture in action during their first months on the job. Buddy them with your best service providers. Introduce them to your best customers. Take time to mentor, manage and motivate the new service players on your team. Make them key to your organizational culture change.
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Training is a key factor in organizational culture change. To make sure the organizational culture change you’re after takes hold, however, refreshers might be necessary.

When you train someone to use a software package, they tend to get better over time. When you train someone in a technical procedure, their performance will improve the more they use it.

But why does “customer service training” tend to wear off? Why do customer service workers need continuous training and retraining? Why is this essential to organizational culture change?
Because providing customer service requires that you work with other people, not only with software and procedures. Other people can get angry, or be in a bad mood, or simply not appreciate your efforts and the service you provide.

That means “wear and tear” on the service provider. That’s why top service organizations continuously train and retrain their team members and support them with a robust service culture. This is essential if you want to foster an organizational culture change that is service minded.
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In a strong organizational culture change where service matters, “recognition and reward” must come frequently from the company. Why? Because it doesn’t come very often from the customer.

A service provider who calms an angry customer, listens patiently to his complaint and acts quickly to resolve the issue surely deserves appreciation. But how often does an angry customer say, “You did a great job of calming me down and taking care of my needs. Thanks for such great service!” (Answer: Not very often.)

Recognition is a powerful form of reward and it can foster organizational culture change. Salespeople respond to financial incentives. Product engineers work hard to prove a new technology. But most service people are “people people.” Personal recognition from their managers and peers means a lot.
Recognition can be given many ways: in private or in public, in person or in writing, with or without a physical or financial component.

Recognition can be given to external service providers, for most customer compliments, extra-mile efforts, best service recovery.

Recognition can also be given to internal service providers, for most improved department, most helpful colleagues, best effort to upgrade service, systems or standards.

Recognition can be given to others, too; best service from a supplier, most appreciative customer, most helpful and responsive government agency, most supportive family members at home.
Want your team to give better and more creative customer service? Then foster an organizational culture change to get better and more creative with your service recognition and rewards!
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In a strong organizational culture change focused on service, everyone understands what customers need and value. They know what customers want to achieve; their hopes, dreams and ambitions. They know what customers want to avoid; their concerns, anxieties and fears.

Excellent service providers know that all customers are not alike. And they know what each type of customer prefers, and their priorities, in different service situations. When organizational culture change is meant to improve service, customers are key to the process.

A deep understanding of customers does not happen by chance. It comes from bringing the voice of your customer deeply into the organization, and bringing members of the organization frequently to your customers. This type of organizational culture change has ripple effects that benefit everyone.

Customer contact should start from the very beginning to foster organizational culture change. Southwest Airlines involves loyal customers in their staff selection process. Singapore Press Holdings sends new staff to interview customers during their management orientation program. Emirates Airlines invites new and old customers to participate in company activities, staff service awards and other special events.

Customer complaints and compliments are the real-time voice of your customer. These outspoken comments should be heard throughout your company to make the reasons for organizational culture change clear.

Singapore Airlines publishes customer compliments and complaints in every issue of their monthly newsletter. Compliments boost morale and remind everyone what actions must continue. Complaints are even more carefully read! Every staff member reads each month what must be changed, updated or improved. This supports an organizational culture change that is fluid to meet demands.
There are more ways to bring the voice of your customer into the body of your organization. * * *

A superior service culture requires a constant flow of good ideas to improve internal and external service. Everyone in your organization can be a potential contributor and foster organizational culture change for the better.

But how many people will take the time to think through and then submit their best ideas to help with an organizational culture change that promotes better service?
In many places the “Staff Suggestion Program” has earned a bad reputation. It’s the empty “Suggestion Box” hanging on the wall. It’s the “Suggestion Hotline” that no one ever answers. It’s the mandatory requirement of “one idea per person per month” that rips all spontaneity out of the process and doesn’t do much to support organizational culture change.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Leading service organizations create more effective programs. Here are some best-practices you can use:
1. Give your suggestion program an appealing name. Singapore Airlines calls theirs “Staff Ideas in Action,” or S.I.A. That’s the same acronym for the airline itself.
What is your program called? Does it support your efforts to enact an organizational culture change toward better service?

2. Make it easy to submit a suggestion. Put “Suggestion Cards” and collection boxes in the pantry, lounge or cafeteria. Set up a web page or blog with examples of previous suggestions. Dedicate an e-mail address. Set up a voice recorder and publicize the telephone number.
How many channels do you have open right now? Do they build up the organizational culture change you’re striving for?

3. Set up categories to help people think with greater focus: Improving Customer Service, New Service Idea, Rewarding Loyal Customers, Recapturing Lost Customers, Better Internal Procedures, Welcoming New Staff, Saving Company Costs, Boosting Sales, etc.
When was the last time you asked for suggestions or ran a contest on any single topic? Do you send the message that an organizational culture change for superior service really matters?

4. Respond to suggestions quickly. If the answer is no, say so. If the answer is yes, say “by when.” If the answer is maybe, then provide an explanation.
If your staff submitted a suggestion last week, are they still waiting for an answer? Is this helping you foster an organizational culture change for the better?

5. Publicize the suggestions you receive, and your responses. Each idea can lead to more ideas. Every response can trigger new and better thinking boost efforts to create an organizational culture change.
Where are the best suggestions you received in the past six months? Posted on the Intranet, or buried in a file?

6. Reward great ideas. Give $50 for the best idea, $20 for second, and $10 for 3rd, 4th and 5th. Want to accelerate the process and completely shift your culture? Then give out these awards every week! And celebrate your winners with more than money; them give recognition, prizes and praise.
How much have you spent to encourage and celebrate suggestions in the past 12 months? If you double that amount, would you get more than twice the valu

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