Today’s interview is with Ron Kaufman, Founder and Chairman of UP! Your Service and author of New York Times bestselling Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet. Ron joins me today to talk about uplifting service, building a service culture, some examples of companies that are excelling at this and and why that’s important that every company builds their own service culture.
This interview follows on from my recent interview: Proactive customer service will pay back ten fold – Interview with Matt Lautz of Corvisa – and is number 132 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.
Highlights from my interview with Ron:
- Ron wrote a New York Times bestselling book a couple of years ago called: Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet.
- Ron is not an academic but a practitioner and the book articulates what the world’s leading companies have done to ‘crack the code’ of building a long and enduring culture of service.
- Most of the money that companies invest in customer service training is a waste of money.
- Ron believes that the problem lies in the ’training’ as it is not ‘educating’ employees and is only training them in what to do in the right way following the right process.
- But, in a service environment we need people to be more flexible, more responsive, more proactive and more personal etc if we are to deliver the best service and that’s where the education comes in.
- Customer service training focuses on the mechanics but what Ron talks about is what he calls ‘actionable service education’ and focuses on not only the mechanics of service but also the meaning of service and the purpose of these actions.
- To transform your organisation’s service you first have to start by defining what service is. If you ask different people in an organisation what service is then they will give you all sorts of answers depending on their role and perspective.
- Ron’s definition is: Service is taking action to create value for someone else.
- That definition makes everyone in an organisation a service professional.
- The most important part of the definition is not the action you take but how much you understand the ‘someone else’ so you can figure out what they value and, therefore, what action you need to take.
- Ron advocates the use of tracking ‘compliments’ received as a ‘leading’ indicator of service culture improvement.
- A better service culture can be engineered by using the ‘The 12 building blocks of service culture’. These include building up a common service language, recruiting the right people, giving them a great induction to the company, having your communication, service recovery and voice of the customer programmes etc etc all in place.
- Ron cites Wipro as a great example of a firm that has built a really strong and leading service culture. Their philosophy is that they want to be a ‘proactive and value adding service partner’ to all of their clients.
- When they say proactive that means that they are not waiting to be asked but are thinking about their customers and proactively making suggestions and proposals to clients with things they would value.
- When they talk about ‘value adding’ this means that they consistently look to go above and beyond the terms of the contract to deliver more value to the client so that they are delighted with their choice of vendor.
- The second example Ron cites is a hospitality brand, Nira, where they did not have enough money to invest in all of their properties to help them leap from 3 star to 5 star standards. So, what they did was take things out of the room rather than putting more things into their rooms. Their mantra is ‘Less deluxe, more delight’, where they would put whatever the customer wanted into the room according to their specification whether it be flowers, an exercise bike, painting equipment and easel for the budding artist etc etc.
- In essence what they did was strip the room right down and then ramp up the service attention that they paid to each guest.
- Within two years, they achieved their 5 star rating and they could then do the refurbishment that they wanted to do previously.
- Since the book was published in 2012, Ron has seen a growth in the recognition of the importance of culture in service excellence.
- Ask yourself: do you have a company where people are coming to work just to do their job or are they coming to work because they love their job? Do what ever it takes to make it the latter.
- Tip for leaders: Become a studious observer of service.
- Ron would encourage everyone to visit and www.upyourservice.com to take advantage of all of the resources there.
About Ron (taken from his LinkedIn profile)
Ron Kaufman is a global service consultant, speaker and educator who specializes in building uplifting service cultures with leaders in the world’s largest and most respected organizations.
Ron is author of the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble bestselling book “UPLIFTING SERVICE: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues and Everyone Else You Meet”.
He is the founder of UP! Your Service, a global customer service education and management consultancy firm, specializing in service culture, customer service, customer experience, customer loyalty, customer and employee retention, motivation, empowerment and engagement for sustainable competitive advantage.
Ron’s company serves global clients in all industries, government and associations with offices in the United States and Singapore.
You can also connect with Ron on Twitter @RonKaufman.
Image by Doctorpk17 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The point I find interesting is
only training them in what to do in the right way following the right process.
I’m a process guy, and on the one hand we should know what the best process is and people should follow it, but on the other hand all customers issues are subtly different, so there is no such thing as a one size fits all process.
There is, I think, a fascinating nuance between following principles and following processes. We overcontrol far too much.
A great point well made. Thank you.
James, Great point. And especially coming from a “process guy”, it gives me hope that we are all coming to the point where processes and principles can meet and marry. For all the “principles without process” guys and gals out there, an important read is Atul Gawande’s “The Checklist Manifesto”. Process does count – and makes applying good principles even easier.