Kenya at 50: 5 Service Excellence Lessons from Singapore

As it appeared in the Daily Nation of December 10th 2013

In 1965, 2 years after Kenya, Singapore became independent. The country has attracted many admirers and seems to live its values of integrity, service and excellence. It leads the world in GDP per capita and it is renowned for high integrity levels. Last year it was rated by World Bank as the easiest place in the world for SMEs to do business. Additionally, its urban planning and its education system are among the world’s best. As we celebrate 50 years of independence here are 5 lessons we can learn from Singapore.

Driving a culture of service

Singapore continues to drive a strong service culture. You probably have heard of Ron Kaufman, in 1990 the government of Singapore invited him to help create the Service Quality Centre to improve the nation’s service culture. If you have visited the award winning Changi Airport, you have witnessed it. Today, 23 years later, Ron and others are still part of the service excellence movement. The service culture has raised the country’s competitiveness, its productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction and loyalty. We need many people to join the service movement in Kenya and help build such a culture.

Business Excellence Initiatives

Under the country’s ministry of Trade and Industry is SPRING Singapore, the agency responsible for building trust in Singapore’s products and services. It leads the Business Excellence (BE) initiative whose framework has been used by organizations of all kinds to drive organizational excellence. Since 1999 the public sector has used the framework and 70% of the sector is certified to BE Standards. The framework addresses seven dimensions of excellence: Leadership, Planning, Information, People, Processes, Customers and Results. In Kenya, initiatives such as “Huduma Bora ni Haki Yako” and “Results for Kenyans” perished. We certainly need a national initiative focused on yielding sustainable results across all sectors.

Service Excellence Education for Leaders

On 15th January 2014 a leaders’ conference on leading the Starbucks way will be happening in Singapore. The next day will be a conference on the lessons from the Ritz Carlton hotel. Singapore is benchmarking with the best in the world. In Kenya our leaders across all sectors need to invest in service education and implement lessons learnt to drive customer engagement and loyalty and fight service mediocrity.

Customer Satisfaction Barometer

The Institute of Service Excellence at the Singapore Management University aims to raise service levels in Singapore. In 2008, it launched the Customer Satisfaction index of Singapore (CSISG). The index is rigorous, objective and comprehensive cutting across all sectors and subsectors. In Kenya we definitely and urgently need an independent national-wide customer satisfaction barometer.

Recognizing Service Excellence

The Singapore Quality Award launched in 1994 is the most prestigious award conferred on organizations in recognition of excellence. The Excellent Service Awards also launched in 1994 recognizes individuals who deliver quality service. A few days ago, the Institute of Customer Service Kenya launched the service excellence awards 2014, a step in the right direction.

As we join hands and move Kenya forward, we must fast-track service excellence!

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