As it appeared in the daily nation of October 13th 2015
by Lucy Kiruthu
Customer Service week celebrations happened last week world over. Here in Kenya it was evident that something different was happening. On Monday morning some C-Suites were empty as their occupants albeit reluctantly joined the frontline in launching the customer service week. The occupants of the C-Suites were seen leading cake cutting ceremonies amid great excitement from the frontline staff. The Customer Service week has become a flagship activity to drive the customer service excellence agenda in many organizations. The key question though is – is the C-Suite fully involved in driving this agenda?
I suspect very few C-Suite executives had the Customer Service week celebrations on their agenda. After all, they are so busy in meetings, in strategy conferences and the like that they cannot spare a whole week to have fun with their staff and customers. However, from their C-suite they watch and wonder what would really keep their teams that energized all year round. As we prepared for the ICS-Kenya Gala Dinner on Friday, I felt we had left out these very important persons in driving the service excellence agenda. Why did we not have a CEO’s Breakfast whose main agenda was “Leading Service Excellence”? If there was one, would the executives have showed up, taken notes and committed to transforming their organizations the customer service way? Or would they stay away and still ask “How can we ensure that the excitement we saw during the Customer Service Week remains?”
What worries me is the notion that some C-Suite occupants have regarding customer service. Some think it is all about having some nice staff in the frontline to deal with not so nice customers. Others think that all their staff need is some skills training and eureka service happens. They fail to recognize their key role in making Customer Service not only something to be celebrated during the CS week but a way of life every day. In a recent article, Ted Coine explained why Customer Service is a leadership issue. He says “customers experience terrific service because the staff shares a culture of service”. He goes on to say that “this leader knows his sole responsibility is to tend to the culture, as a master gardener tends to his flower beds” As C-Suite executives, “Do our organizations have a culture of service?” If not, “what are we doing to build that sort of culture?”
But what exactly is a culture of service or “service culture”? As a proponent of building a service culture rather than trying out quick customer service fixes I have tried to get an understanding of a culture of service over the years. I fathom that this is the kind of culture where there is appreciation of good service both internally and externally. It is a culture where the right people hold the right positions and where policies and procedures are thought out from the customers’ perspective. It is a culture where the leadership commitment to service excellence is not only heard but it is seen and felt. This culture is evident in the beliefs and the value system of the people within the organization. Are you leading the service excellence agenda from the C-Suite? Are you tending a service culture? I look forward to having this conversation in a room full of C-Suite Executives very soon.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy