News and thoughts from CS Odessa, maker of the ConceptDraw product line: ConceptDraw PRO, ConceptDraw PROJECT and ConceptDraw MINDMAP.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stepping Up To Service

One of the pillars of a successful business is the ability to service customers in an extraordinary manner. In the book “Discovering the Soul of Service: The Nine Drivers of Sustainable Business Success”, the author Leonard L. Berry identifies the drivers as: Leading with Values, Strategic Focus, Exceptional Excellence, Control of Destiny, Trust-Based Relationships, Investment in Employee Success, Acting Small, Brand Cultivation, and Generosity. Berry goes through each driver and identifies why it is important to both customers and company and how they relate to exceptional service and customer loyalty. Berry looks at companies who exemplify customer service and then examines their success in the market. Each driver is important to itself, and there is a careful explanation of each driver.

One of the drivers described by Berry that I find fascinating is the “Trust-Based Relationship” with customers. “Trust-Based Relationships” cannot exist only within a single individual in a company. The trust attitude must permeate the entire organization and start at the top. And for this driver to be effective it must exist inside and outside of an organization. You cannot just say “trust me” and magically your customers believe you, it is a process of earning trust and happens over an extended period of time. It is so easy to lose the trust of a customer; and conversely it is so hard to earn it.

“Relationships are important to companies because they are the link to the future-tomorrow’s customers, tomorrow’s employees, tomorrow’s partners. Relationships with employees and business partners, such as suppliers and independent representatives, help a company forge relationships with its customers. The stronger the relationships, the less likely they are to end. Valued relationships last, helping a company control its destiny and perpetuate itself.”
It all comes down to knowing your customer’s level of expectations for support, and then committing the level of resources and training necessary; plus the support of management, to meet or exceeded those levels. In principle, this sounds easy, but at the implementation level it gets hard very fast. There are so many details, systems and people involved. I find mind mapping is a great tool to look at service levels. As an example ConceptDraw MINDMAP makes it easy to gather and organize information, as well as build phased plans to get one from where they are to where they want to be.

You can download a ConceptDraw MINDMAP template from here that lists the nine drivers from Discovering the Soul of Service this is a good starting point to take a service inventory of your organization. When you have completed it, share it with others in your company to get an objective viewpoint. Use the map as a base-line and then start modifying your content to more closely align with your company’s goals.

Berry, Leonard L. Discovering the soul of service the nine drivers of sustainable business success. New York, NY: Free, 1999. Print.

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