Each year The Conference Board publishes survey results of the Top CEO Challenges for global organizations. In 2014 the top four challenges are:
1. Human Capital
2. Customer Relationships
4. Operational Excellence
The Conference Board says business leaders are seeking to drive growth by “focusing on people, performance, reconnecting with customers, and reshaping the culture of work. They see a renewed commitment to customers, innovation, and the corporate brand.”
This makes sense. Businesses must compete to leverage their products and their people with innovative new offerings. And businesses must find new and more efficient ways to deliver these offerings to retain and grow customer relationships.
But can “reshaping the culture of work” actually address all four top concerns? The answer is a resounding YES. As I work with clients worldwide, I see all four challenges being addressed and answered through the development of a strong and sustainable service culture strategy.
In most companies, “customer service” is viewed functionally as a frontline relationship concern or as a department responsible to keep customers happy and resolve any post-sale problems. But some senior leaders are creating entirely new levels of success by building a strong and sustainable service culture – a veritable service brand across the entire enterprise – and this is addressing all four of the CEO’s top challenges.
The key is how you define Service. We say “Service is taking action to create value for someone else.” This definition opens a larger possibility than only external “customer service.” Service becomes proactive not reactive, and value-adding not merely problem solving.
Service becomes a partnership involving internal and external parties, an ongoing exchange of actions and ideas to create and to receive real value. Value is created in the design of products and services and in the ways we deliver those products and services to each other. Value is created in the approaches we use to build long-term loyalty with customers, colleagues, suppliers, and other partners.
With this larger understanding, service can be measured not just by customer satisfaction surveys but by how teams generate and implement new ideas to create and add more value. This focus on improving service as adding more value can engage staff members at all levels, and can be located at the heart of all innovation and operational improvement.
Building a strong and sustainable service culture has become a leading strategy to address all four of the top challenges CEOs around the world are facing today.
How strong and sustainable is your service culture? Download this free “Service Culture Self-Assessment” to find out now.
Ron Kaufman is a global consultant who specializes in building service cultures. He is the author of UP! Your Service and 14 other books. His firm, UP! Your Service, has offices in Singapore and the U.S.