Recently I read an article by Xenia Carr-Griffiths in a newsletter from Hudson Walker International, a global luxury executive search and recruitment firm, called: The Luxury Of Service And The Service Of Luxury.
In the article, Xenia says that:
“If all our customer facing staff have not had the benefit of experiencing first hand luxury service we should at least ensure that we impart a greater understanding of what it means to both work in and deliver high standards of customer care.”
Xenia’s comment made me wonder two things:
- How many firms want their employees to deliver a level of service that they have never experienced; and
- Whether traditional methods of training and development are sufficient if a firm wants to build the sort of culture and capability that is required to deliver top-class customer service.
Personally, I think there is an opportunity for many firms to go further and think differently about how they help their employees understand the sort of service that they want them to deliver.
Too often businesses rely on telling their employees how they want them to be, what they want them to do and when in order to deliver great service. This helps employees ‘know’ what is expected of them.
But, do they ‘get’ what is expected of them and what it takes to deliver that level of service? Especially, if many employees have, as Xenia explains, not experienced the ‘luxury’ service the firm aspires to? Moreover, if many employees have not ‘felt’ the sort of service that firms want to deliver then how will they really know if they have delivered it?
One of the main challenges here, however, is that experiencing that level of service may not be affordable for some customer facing staff.
Therefore, could ambitious companies turn this challenge around and turn it into an opportunity? Could they benefit from helping their employees experience the sort of service that they aspire to deliver? Could that help their employees better ‘get’ the sort of service and experience that they want to deliver? Could it inspire insights and innovations that could lead to them improving their own service in ways that they had not expected?
I think there is an opportunity to build ‘service experiences’ into a company’s training, continuous improvement or induction programmes, where the company takes it’s employees to experience and learn from the service of a firm that they look up to. Doing so will help the employees of those firms ‘get’ the sort of service and experience that their employers want them to deliver.
As Confucius once said:
“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”
This post was originally published on my Forbes.com column here.