From Vision To Customers: How To Create A Service Culture

The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer ServiceTips For Creating a Service Culture in Your Organization

Jeff Toister’s new book, The Service Culture Handbook, gives practical, step-by-step guidance for how to create a culture of strong, caring customer service in your organization.

It is a great companion piece to Jeanne Bliss’s Chief Customer Office 2.0 book, which she and I discussed in Frank Reactions podcast episode 34.

Cultural Artifacts Can Slow You Down

Every organization has a culture, and trying to change it is bound to hit resistance. If you’ve ever studied anthropology, you’ll know that every culture has “artifacts” — sometimes physical items, but they can also be attitudes that come from the organization’s history.

Not all cultural artifacts are bad, but Toister noted that in many organizations there are conflicting artifacts. These lead to a lack of consistency in vision and in execution, so customers don’t get consistent treatment.

Start with a Customer Service Vision

Jeff Toister, Author of The Service Culture Handbook

Jeff Toister, Author of The Service Culture Handbook

A good customer service vision is:

  1. Simple and easy to understand
  2. Customer focused
  3. Anchored in the present and the future

In the interview Toister says the vision is “what describes us on our best day.” So in developing your customer service vision, ask employees that very question.

Also ask:

“When our customers think of the service we provide, what do you want them to think of?”

Surprisingly, Toister says you should develop that service culture statement internally, without consulting customers. The customer service vision is what shapes your offerings, which can then be validated with customers. But it has to be something that starts from within.

Here are some more tips for creating a good vision statement, or “promise.”

Human Brains “Think Different”

Since we understand words differently, it is important to validate your vision with internal stakeholders. Do they all understand it in the same way?

Even when employees have memorized their company’s vision statement, they may interpret it differently.

  • To one, a service culture could mean one where we are available 24/7.
  • To another it could mean one where an employee will stop what they are doing and rush to the aid of a customer.
  • To a third it might mean one where nobody waits on hold for more than two minutes (even though that might result in rushing other customers off their calls).

Also in The Service Culture Handbook

  • The need for good communication plans to include both repetition and variety.
  • How to handle the situation when those who interact directly with your customers are not your employees, but rather are contractors or franchisees.
  • Omnichannel challenges to a service culture.
  • Examples of how employees can game metrics, so you don’t end up with the behavior you wanted.
  • Three characteristics of bad goals.

If you are in the trenches of customer experience improvement, you’ll find this book helpful.

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