Imagine building an Information Technology business renowned for excellence. Free advertising due to constant positive publicity. A company filled with dynamic, innovative, dedicated, passionate people you can depend on.
An average staff turnover of 10 years.
High profile potential clients who call you instead of you calling them. A company which retains it’s customers year after year after year.
This is what your business could look like.
And this is what it means to be an IT business that delivers service excellence. Exceptional companies are created by design, not by default.
And it all starts with a happy team of staff members, which is why we’ll focus on that aspect as the basis of creating a service excellence culture in an Information Technology business.
What is service excellence?
Service excellence is best described as a culture. It’s the fundamental link between a productive, successful business and an inspired, motivated workforce.
To achieve truly exceptional levels of service, people must be inspired to go that extra mile. They must be emotionally connected to the company so that they continually give their best.
Service excellence is all about behavioral change and empowerment of staff.
Benefits of a service excellence culture
If you’re wondering why you should bother, maybe these well-known statistics will provide motivation:
- A customer will tell on average, 10 other friends or family about their service experience. In the case of IT service delivery companies, it’s likely contracts won’t be renewed, and you’ll need to keep sourcing more clients.
- Acquiring new customers can cost five times more than holding on to your current ones.
- The average company loses 10% of its customers each year because of poor customer service delivery.
- 40% Of your customers will switch to competitors if they experience poor service.
Examples of service excellence culture
Disney Resorts, known as the undisputed worldwide leader in customer service, spend a huge amount of money training their street sweeper, who they consider to be one of their most valued assets.
Why a street sweeper?
Well, Disney recognized that most of their guests approach the street sweeper for information as if he were an information kiosk. They tailored their approach to their customers, instead of trying to tailor their customers around their processes.
Then there’s Commerce Bank; the bank which makes more money than any other bank in the world, with the greatest annual growth rate. What makes them different to other banks?
Commerce Bank believes that customers pay for convenience, and their aim is to provide a unique experience for all their customers. Unlike most other banks, they are relationship oriented, going so far as to be pet friendly, and staying open when other banks close.
They are so anti “how-this-is-always-done”, that they incorporated a “kill stupid rules” rule. Staff who provide alternatives to what may be “stupid” rules, get paid.
The problem with the IT industry and service excellence
In the IT industry, staff are usually employed for their technical skills. And when staff move up the chain of command, they are promoted for their technical ability, not their managerial skills. And so, in this industry specifically, there is generally a lack of understanding about what makes a great service experience.
Why technical people rarely understand the elements of a great service experience.
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With this in mind, it might be of great benefit to hire someone who is not technical, to work on your IT service delivery strategy.
Service excellence begins with your staff
There are quite a few elements that need to be covered when you implement a service excellence project into an Information Technology business, but the success of it hinges on your staff.
The elements of incorporating a service excellence project.
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There are a plethora of findings and statistics to prove that happy staff are more productive, bring in more sales, more dedicated, take less days off, and more.
So what you need to do to provide a service excellence culture, is to make sure your staff are happy.
How happy are your staff?
The very first step is to find out the happiness levels of your staff, and address any problems they have with their work environment.
If you’re The Boss – no matter how nice you may be – there’s no way you can know for sure if your staff are happy without doing some kind of anonymous staff satisfaction survey. But to get the answers you really want (and you want truth, no matter how bad it may be, right?) you need to make sure that staff know what you’ll do with what they tell you, and maybe even offer some kind of incentive to complete the survey, or make it mandatory. While they may be forced to participate, they are not going to bother giving you good information if they don’t believe it’s going to benefit them.
Once you have the information, create a project to address issues with the intention of improving the staff work environment. Bear in mind that you as The Boss, may need to “suck it up” if there are negative details about you. Don’t make anyone suffer for telling the truth, no matter how bad the feedback is. If you punish staff for truth, they will clam up and never trust you again.
Make the staff work environment fun
Fun makes work a great place to spend time. And for work to be fun, happy staff have to feel excited to be there. It’s a good idea to create opportunities for people to bond, so that they become a unified team, and the best way of doing this, is by having social occasions and team building activities for work.
The Zurich Google offices boast a slide to make work even more fun. Google goes to great lengths to spark innovation and creativity. It’s what makes them the search engine that dominates the world.
Image Credit: WorkHappyNow
Companies like Disney Resorts and Commerce Bank, who both provide exceptional service experiences know that at the foundation of their success, lies a happy, motivated, inspired workforce.
Although there are many elements in delivering an exceptional service experience, it all begins with how satisfied your staff are.
First find out how happy your workforce is, deal with any issues, and then make work a fun place to be, where people bond to form a strong team.
Once this has been achieved, you can start working on all the other elements, like training, service recovery, branding, etc.