You walk into a retail shop and a sales associate greets you with a smile and says “Hello, I’m Donna, welcome to XYZ Computers, how may I help you?
A new physician greets you with a smile, a laptop and the words “Good morning, Mr. Adams, I’m Dr. Smith, what can I do for you today?”
A congresswoman returns to her district and begins a constituent meeting by saying “I’m glad to see so many people here to discuss my progress report to you and to hear how else I can better serve you as your representative.”
These are examples of an attitude of service. A general definition of service is helpful activities given to others that satisfy a need or condition. Service activities cut across all aspects of our society and economy.
Every organization — retail, manufacturing, professional, agricultural, health care, first-responders, and associations — that helps to make up our economy is an institution of service. So, too, are the educational, religious and political institutions. Our economy is based on service to consumers.
Where do service activities begin? They begin with the relationships among members of each organization — employees, managers and owners. Here, before engaging customers, suppliers, other stakeholders and the public, service has its roots. The culture begins by serving others and by being a resource to each other in your own company. Obvious? Not as much as it can be in a world where people consider work as something you have to do to earn enough to live on. You need a fully engaged team.
Here are some examples of behavior in a service culture. No one lets another person fail; everyone shares the responsibility for quality; communication across departments is spontaneous; and assistance is willingly given to each other without asking and without seeking any reward. From there its dynamic spreads to relationships with customers in exceptional customer service and collaborative programs that make improvements where needed; in relationships and collaboration with suppliers and supply-chain efficiencies; in international partnerships and alliances; and finally between financial institutions and small businesses. This latter relationship is gaining prominence and is seen in the number of banking services available for small businesses. These include banks accepting greater accountability for fraud protection under the Uniform Commercial Code, which is active in New Hampshire.
Good service is visible and sustained. How does a service culture work? If it’s seamless, you see it in every example of sharing, supporting and doing for each other. People take turns making coffee, taking notes, preparing rooms for meetings, contributing and following up.
Involving customers in improving products, even if only through complaints, affects the bottom line. Increased communication and education, employee-suggested practices, supplier conferences and partnerships, and collaborating with state resources and programs to provide new ways of doing business do the same.
Share with your stakeholders your success stories.
I offer you this challenge for 2017: Consider all your resources as a gift to your business. It sends a powerful message.
Design an attitude of service by having a vision that includes the services you intend to provide. For example, the police departments of many cities have a variation of “To Protect and Serve” as a motto and mission.
A culture of service means you aim to respond quickly to changes customers suggest to the products and services you provide. It means providing easy access and movement through your online services. It means providing a personalized customer experience. It means assuring your people are trained in serving others with a smile and a solution. Above all, it means being consistent and consistently seek new ways to serve.
You’re building trust to assure consumers will use your services again and again.