Cultivating Service Excellence in Nine Steps

I recently finished reading Unleashing Excellence – The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service by Dennis Snow and Teri Yanovitch.

In this book the authors outline an action plan, made up of nine elements, to “inculturate” service excellence (excerpted):

1) Create the Service Improvement Team(…) Action Steps: a) Try to select 8 to 12 members at the most. b) Ensure that the team represents a cross-section of the organization c) Have as many senior level members as possible on the first Service Improvement Team. Members need to have the authority to get things done. d) Draft the team charter.

2) Develop the organization’s Service Philosophy and Service Standards(…) The service Philosophy answers two questions: what we do? how we do it?…Guidelines for Developing your service standards: Each standard on the final list should be unique from every other standard…Each standard should be actionable…The standards must focus on customer service.

3) Develop and execute on ongoing service Communication and Awareness plan(…) Communication during the awareness stage – what employees need: information…Communication during the awkwardness stage – what employees need: reassurance…Communication during the assimilation stage – what employees need: what’s new about the service effort.

4) Create and execute a plan for ongoing service Training and Education(…) Training for the frontline employees should: 1) Ensure consistent understanding of the service improvement process. 2) Share best practices regarding service excellence. 3) Develop personal action plans for service excellence. 4) Communicate next steps.

5) Adapt the Interviewing and Selecting processes to include all elements of the service culture(…) Action Steps: a) Observe and interview your best employees in order to uncover their service talents. b) Enlist your service superstars in your recruiting efforts. c) Track how the best employees were recruited to your company. d) Model your company’s values during the interview process.

6) Create and implement a service Measurement process(…) Keys to local measurement success: a) Local measurements should be linked to the overall service improvement effort…b)The workgroup should be able to impact the factors they measure…c) The act of measuring shouldn’t negatively impact the customer experience…d) Improvement in one service factor shouldn’t negatively impact another service factor.

7) Develop appropriate Recognition/celebration processes that reinforce the service culture(…) Action steps: a) Ensure that recognition is strategically linked to the overall service improvement effort. b) Create mechanisms that encourage recognition at all levels of the organization. c) Review current recognition practices to determine if they are consistent the Service Standards and contain an emotional component. d) Provide special recognition for your stellar performers. e) Communicate and train all management and frontline employees on the importance of recognizing service excellence.”

8) Implement a Service Obstacle System for identifying and addressing barriers to service excellence(…) One of the most important jobs of a leader in a service improvement initiative is to help remove obstacles that keep employees from giving great service.

9) Build a Management Accountability system that ensures commitment to ongoing service excellence(…) The three-legged stool suggests that leaders should be accountable for three broad areas: a) The customer experience. b) The employee experience. c) Business results.”


Omar Halabieh

Unleashing Excellence

Unleashing Excellence

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