Looking for Service Magic
Posted: 7/16/2012

Successful companies recognize the critical importance of service (or they wouldn’t be successful).  And, they understand the need to continuously improve their service levels.  Organizations serious about meaningful improvement face two choices: 1) Use internal expertise and resources to design and implement the service upgrade program, or 2)Turn to a professional in the field who can help develop, implement and guide the plan. We have discussed this first decision in a previous article (show reference) and, not surprisingly, we recommend external assistance in most cases.  So, this discussion addresses the challenge of finding the best external resource with whom to partner.

Of course there are many alternatives from which to choose, but typically the field narrows very quickly to just a few credible options.  Usually, it includes a couple of name brand practitioners such as Disney and Ritz-Carlton and a subject matter expert who combines service training/consulting expertise with deep industry application experience, like ServiceElements.  How to decide?

Disney and Ritz-Carlton are respected brands for a reason.  They have demonstrated their ability to deliver service consistently over many years to thousands of customers in their core businesses.  Many of us have had the pleasure of experiencing the extraordinary service they provide.  They have earned their reputation as models of service delivery and customer satisfaction.  How do they do it?  The answer to that question is precisely the curriculum they offer in their programs for the public.  They have turned a “frequently-asked-question” into a profit center.  Nothing wrong with that—it is extremely interesting and enlightening to learn what goes on ‘backstage’ at these high profile organizations.  The concepts are world-class.  In fact, if you are a hotel or an amusement park you may find some ideas directly applicable to your operations.  However, most of us are in different industries with strategies, goals and cultures quite different from Disney or Ritz-Carlton.  To be of any value, the techniques of these brand names must be effectively modified and appropriately applied to the specific dynamics of your industry and company culture.  This requires someone at your company to accomplish this interpretation in a meaningful way. Then, a means of delivering and implementing that material must be developed, executed, and then followed-up with feedback and a method of periodic reinforcement.  Once underway you’ll also need an ongoing resource for advice and assistance to help you stay on track. Unfortunately, the brand names offer little, if any, involvement beyond the course material.

So, after having the benefit of attending these brand name sessions and absorbing these fantastic concepts, who internally will effectively adapt them to your needs, and then plan, deliver and reinforce the service culture you desire?  Ideally, this is a task for your top leaders and the training department. However, most of today’s lean organizations do not have the staffing, let alone the time and expertise, required to make this intensive process happen.   (Again, see article)  Therefore, to make the most of these grand ideas, you must turn to yet another external resource to accomplish the adaptation and delivery of the desired content.  Now you are adding another cost to the premium price you already paid for the name-brand service course.

We believe that, “How can we (insert your company name) do it?” is a better question for you to ask than, “How do they (Disney or Ritz-Carlton) do it?”  Thus, the alternative to the name brand program provider is someone who will work with you from the start to establish and achieve your service culture goals.   The idea is to transition from where you are to where you want to be.  That requires that your guide knows not only how to attain a high performance service culture for themselves, but also knows your current service culture status (strengths and weaknesses), and your industry.     This combination of provider knowledge plus expertise enables you to develop a program that matches your particular needs and desired direction; a program that you create and lead with the help of an advisor who does the heavy lifting of assessment, design, implementation and follow-up.  Using this alternative, you do not have to adapt someone else’s concepts or devote large amounts of staff time to creating and delivering a program.  Instead, you simply provide input, direction and support for a service culture program customized to your needs.  Oh, you’ll have plenty of involvement and influence to ensure its success; but the time and effort will be realistic and in keeping with the expertise and focus of your management team.

The achievement of Walt Disney is legendary and the performance of the Ritz-Carlton people is amazing.  Their stories are worth hearing.  However, it is more than likely that your path to service greatness is going to be a bit different.  We suggest using the achievements of these companies as your inspiration.  Then, choose a service culture advisor who is willing and able to help you design and achieve your own unique path to service magic and legendary success.