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Building a customer service strategy with organizational leadership: Tip #4

Find out how organization-wide leadership and values affect customer service strategy in this fourth tip in the customer service excellence series.

Asking these self-evaluation questions can help businesses understand what their values are and how organizational leadership affects the company's overall customer service strategy.

  • Our values are widely understood and practiced.
  • Leadership reflects the organization's values.
  • Our processes of management enact our values.
  • Senior managers actively champion customers.
  • We invest in developing leadership across the organization.
Our values are widely understood and practiced

Tip #4, Building a service strategy with organizational leadership, is excerpted from Chapter 5 of the book Business Success Through Service Excellence, by Moira Clark and Susan Baker, published by Butterworth-Heinemann, a division of Elsevier, 2004.
Values are the life blood of the organization and as a result it is important that they are "lived" on a daily basis. It is essential that they are widely understood and practiced so that they can guide staff behavior in appropriate ways. However, unfortunately many companies develop values statements and present them to staff without ever having discussed them with the staff. They then wonder why there is a wide gap between stated values and the actual behavior that people observe in the organization. It is absolutely vital that draft values are discussed widely with employees and modified in the light of those discussions. Once values are agreed, supporting practices and procedures can then be drawn up to support the values.

A good way of assessing the degree of fit between stated values and actual values is to be a fly on the wall and watch what happens in an organization. For example, customer focus may be a stated value, but it may be possible to see managers walking past ringing phones and not answering them, or even standing by while a queue of customers wait for service. Another example may be that a company has a stated value around the treatment of employees, yet it may be possible to observe that in a call center there is nowhere for staff to retreat or relax away from customers.

To ensure values really are "lived," they need to be turned into measurable practices. For example, if a value is to "identify, anticipate, serve and satisfy customer needs," then one way of measuring this would be to ask when was the last time a particular staff member sat down with a customer to find out their needs. Measuring practices helps focus staff attention on what is important; it guides their behavior and the future direction of the business.

Download the rest of this chapter on organizational leadership.

Customer service excellence: Six tips in six minutes

 Home: Introduction
 Tip 1: Using customer intelligence in a service strategy
 Tip 2: Improving customer service with effective business processes
 Tip 3: Employee satisfaction and customer service excellence
 Tip 4: Building a service strategy with organizational leadership
 Tip 5: Change management in a customer service strategy
 Tip 6: Customer service excellence best practices

Business Success Through Service Excellence These chapter excerpts from Business Success Through Service Excellence, by Moira Clark and Susan Baker, are used by permission from Elsevier Publishing. Published by Butterworth-Heinemann, a division of Elsevier, 2004.

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