Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 38 ch apte 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Contributing to the Service Culture r 2 “Your earning ability today is largely dependent upon your knowledge, skill and your ability to combine that knowledge and skill in such a way that you contribute value for which customers are going to pay.” —Brian Tracy Learning Outcomes After completing this chapter, you will be able to: 2-1 2-2 2-3 2-4 2-5 2-6 Explain the elements of a service culture. Deﬁne a service strategy. Recognize customer-friendly systems. Implement strategies for promoting a positive service culture. Separate average companies from exceptional companies. Identify what customers want. Key Terms attitudes customer-centric customer-friendly systems employee expectations employee roles 38 empowerment feel, felt, found technique mentees mentors mission RUMBA service culture service delivery systems service measurement service philosophy what customers want Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 39 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile In the Real World Retail—Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream BEN & JERRY’S HOMEMADE, INC. IS ONE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY’S fabled success stories. The company was founded in 1978 by two childhood friends—Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenﬁeld. The two met in gym class on Long Island in 1963 and have been lifelong friends since. Being children of the 60s, both Ben and Jerry concluded that college was a wise decision. This epiphany was driven in no small part by the fact that Vietnam was at a high point and the military draft was in full swing. The two conducted extensive, yet rudimentary, research. Among other things, they visited libraries, stood on the corner and counted foot trafﬁc, and brainstormed a lot. With their newly acquired knowledge, they decided to open an ice cream store. This decision was based on the realization that it was a simple business that did not require large amounts of start-up capital or experience. Also, Jerry had worked in his college cafeteria scooping ice cream, while Ben had several jobs driving an ice cream truck and managing freezer boxes for an ice cream company (counting product and loading/unloading trucks). With such in-depth experience, the two were destined to succeed in the ice cream business. After searching for a location, facility, and equipment for their new enterprise, they settled on a rundown gas station building in Burlington, Vermont. Realizing that they had much to learn about the ice cream industry and would need more investment capital to get their business off to a sound start, they sought additional industry knowledge. Before they applied for a small business loan, they decided to enroll in a correspondence course on ice cream making from Penn State University. Since they could not afford the tuition ($5 dollars), they split the cost and sent in one fee, then, jointly completed the mail-in materials. From the beginning, Ben & Jerry’s embodied the 60s “for the people” philosophy. Their free-wheeling, let-it-all-hang-out personas helped them succeed by endearing them to their local customers. They capitalized on the image that they were just two guys trying to make it in the business world. By developing a “people’s ice cream” concept and using high-quality, locally produced ingredients, they built a loyal customer base. They also used low-cost, unorthodox marketing strategies, which continue to this day. For example, they priced their ice cream so the ordinary person could afford it (originally 52¢ per cone). Next, they started a free outdoor movie festival where they projected movies onto the outside wall of their store in the summer. They also started a tradition in which anyone can get a free ice cream cone on Ben & Jerry’s anniversary date. The latter promotion is still in effect and each year they give away nearly half a million free cones nationwide. The business philosophy of Ben & Jerry’s is summed up in its Mission Statement, which comprises three parts, a Social Mission, a Product Mission, and an Economic Mission. (www.benjerry.com/activism/mission-statement/). As a result of Ben & Jerry’s philosophy, the organization’s community involvement and philanthropy through its Ben & Jerry’s Foundation have brought international recognition over the years. In 1988, the company was awarded the Corporate Giving award for donating 7.5 percent of its pretax proﬁts to nonproﬁt organizations. Also in that 39 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 40 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile year, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenﬁeld were named Small Business Persons of the Year and received their award from President Reagan at the White House. From the beginning of their operation, Ben & Jerry’s emphasis has been on quality products, affordable pricing, and local supporting the local community. These factors have served the company well and gave a sound base for what has become a multimillion dollar, international organization. To get to the point that they are today, Ben and Jerry have used many unique marketing strategies and used an approach that business should be fun and “real.” From scraggy beards, jeans, and pith helmets, the two have strived not to be the typical corporate executives in a traditional work environment. As in the beginning, employees at Ben & Jerry’s still enjoy a casual working environment where fun and activities are commonplace. Some of the unusual marketing approaches used by Ben & Jerry’s include: • Outdoor movie festival with free ice cream. • Free ice cream cones for mothers on Mother’s Day. • Carnival-like performances by Ben and Jerry in which Ben (aka Habeeni-Ben-Coheeni) is carried aloft on a board, dressed in a bed sheet. Once on a stage, he assumes a trancelike state in which his body becomes rigid and he is suspended between two wooden chairs. At that point, Jerry places a cinder-block on Ben’s stomach and proceeds to smash it with a sledgehammer. • The Cowmobile (an RV) that travels around the country to major locations and events distributing free ice cream samples. • Pictures of Ben and Jerry appear on their packaging with the phrase, “two real guys.” • Sponsorship of the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. • Elvis Day celebration (on Elvis Presley’s birthday). • Products with unusual and memorable names (e.g., Cherry Garcia, Zsa Zsa Gaboreo, Rainforest Crunch, Norieggnog, and Peace Pops). • Currently, they are conducting the One Sweet Whirled Campus Tour of 20 colleges and universities. The intent of the initiative is to raise the awareness of young people about global warming and the need to reduce CO2 release. In 2000, Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by British-Dutch multinational food giant Unilever. Although the founders are still engaged with the company, they do not hold any board or management position and are not involved in day-to-day management of the company. Their efforts are more focused on the promotional aspects, “waving the ﬂag” and speaking at events and staying involved in philanthropic ventures. Ben & Jerry’s franchises and PartnerShops can be found in 27 different countries with nearly 500 in North America (United States and Canada). The latter types of franchises are ones in which Ben & Jerry’s provides special incentives to qualiﬁed nonproﬁt organizations that open ice cream scoop shops. They are part of Ben & Jerry’s social initiative to help nonproﬁt organizations generate revenue and to provide training in the food industry to otherwise unemployable young people. Think About It Visit the Internet and library to learn more about the Ben and Jerry’s organization. Based on what you learn and read above, answer the following questions and be prepared to discuss your responses in class. 40 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 41 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile 1. Do you have personal experience with this company? If so, describe your impressions. 2. How does this organization differ from other similar successful companies of which you are aware? 3. How is this organization similar to other successful companies of which you are aware? 4. What does Ben & Jerry’s do that encourages customer support and loyalty? 5. Does the organization do anything that might cause a negative impression in the mind of customers? Explain. 6. Would you want to work for this company? Why or why not? Quick Preview Before reviewing the chapter content, respond to the following questions by placing a “T” for true or an “F” for false on the rules. Use any questions you miss as a checklist of material to which you will pay particular attention as you read through the chapter. For those you get right, congratulate yourself, but review the sections they address in order to learn additional details about the topic. 1. Service cultures include such things as policies and procedures. 2. To remain competitive, organizations must continually monitor and evaluate their systems. 3. Advertising, service delivery, and complaint resolution are examples of customer-friendly systems. 4. To better face daily challenges and opportunities in the workplace, you should strive to increase your knowledge, build your skills, and improve your attitude. 5. Some of the tools used by organizations to measure service culture include employee focus groups, mystery shoppers, and customer lotteries. 6. By determining the added value and results for me (AVARFM), you can develop. more personal commitment to service excellence. 7. Use of “they” language to refer to management when dealing with customers helps demonstrate your commitment to your organization and its culture. 8. Communicating openly and effectively is one technique for working more closely with customers. 9. Even though you depend on vendors and suppliers, they are not your customers. 10. Business etiquette dictates that you should return all telephone calls within four hours. 11. Your job of serving a customer should end at the conclusion of a transaction so that you can switch your attention to new customers. 12. Customers want value for their money and effective, efﬁcient service. Answers to Quick Preview can be found at the end of the chapter. 41 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 42 42 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession LO 2-1 Defining a Service Culture Concept service culture A service environment made up of various factors, including the values, beliefs, norms, rituals and practices of a group or organization. attitudes Emotional responses to people, ideas, and objects. They are based on values, differ between individuals and cultures, and affect the way people deal with various issues and situations. customer-centric A term used to describe service providers and organizations that put their customers ﬁrst and spend time, effort, and money identifying and focusing on the needs of current and potential customers. Efforts are focused on building long-term relationships and customer loyalty rather than simply selling a product or service and moving on to the next customer. Many elements contribute to a service culture. What is a service culture in an organization? The answer is that it is different for each organization. No two organizations operate in the same manner, have the same focus, or provide management that accomplishes the same results. Among other things, a culture includes the values, beliefs, norms, rituals, and practices of a group or organization. Any policy, procedure, action, or inaction on the part of your organization contributes to the service culture. Other elements may be specific to your organization or industry. A key point to remember about service culture is that you play a key role in communicating the culture of your organization to your customers. You may communicate through your appearance, your interaction with customers, and your knowledge, skill, and attitude. The latter element is crucial in your success and that of your organization. As a service provider, if you take a job just to have a paycheck without buying into the service culture and supporting the goals of the organization, both you and the organization will lose. For you to be successful in the service industry (or any other for that matter) you must take ownership of your roles and responsibilities and show commitment to doing the best you can every day that you go to work. Even further, you must project a positive attitude when you are not at work as well. Think about the number of times you have heard friends “bad mouth” their boss, organization, products, and services. Did their attitude toward their job inspire you to want to patronize their workplace or apply for a job there? What you do or say around others in any environment sends a powerful message about you, your level of professionalism and your organization. If you cannot support your employer; quit and find a job where you can. To do less is being unfair to yourself and your organization. Remember that if the organization loses money because of poor word-of-mouth publicity (things you and others say about it), there will be fewer customers. This will result in lowered revenue and money available to provide employee salary increases and benefits. Culture also encompasses your products and services, and the physical appearance of the organization’s facility, equipment, or any other aspect of the organization with which the customer comes into contact. Unfortunately, many companies are top-down–oriented (with upper management at the top of their hierarchy and customers as a final element or afterthought) or product-centered and view customers from the standpoint of what company products or services they use (Figure 2.1). Successful organizations are customer-centered or customer-centric and focus on individual needs (Figure 2.2). An organization’s service culture is made up of many facets, each of which affects the customer and helps determine the success or failure of customer service initiatives (Figure 2.3). Too often, organizations overpromise and underdeliver because their cultural and internal systems (infrastructure) do not have the ability to support customer service initiatives. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 43 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture Senior management Customer Middle management Front-line service provider Supervisors/ team leaders Supervisors/ team leaders Front-line service provider Middle management Customer Senior management Figure 2.1 Typical Hierarchical Figure 2.2 Customer-Centric Organization Organization For example, suppose that management has the marketing department develop a slick piece of literature describing all the benefits of a new product or service provided by a new corporate partner. Then a special 800 number or Web site is set up to handle customer responses, but no additional staff is hired to handle the customer calls or current service providers are not given adequate information or training to do their job. The project is likely doomed to fail because adequate service support has not been planned and implemented. In the past, organizations were continually making changes to their product and service lines to try to attract and hold customers. Often this has been their primary approach to customer satisfaction. Now, many major organizations have become more customer-centric and stress relationships with customers. They realize that it is cheaper, and smarter, to keep current customers rather than subscribe to a revolving door approach of continually trying to attract new customers to replace the ones that they lost to competitors. Advertising campaigns often reflect this new awareness as companies try to communicate that they are focused on their customers. The following are some familiar slogans used by companies in their promotional materials: “Like a good neighbor”—State Farm Insurance “When you’re here, you’re family”—Olive Garden Restaurants “You’re in good hands”—Allstate Insurance Company “It’s your store”—Albertsons Grocery Stores “We’ll leave the light on for you.” Motel 6 “Think what we can do for you.” Bank of America 43 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 44 44 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession Figure 2.3 Elements of a Service Culture Many elements deﬁne a successful organization. Some of the more common are shown here. Delivery systems Service philosophy or mission Employee roles and expectations Training Service Culture Policies and procedures Motivators and rewards Products and services Management support Service philosophy or mission: The direction or vision of an organization that supports day-to-day interactions with the customer. Employee roles and expectations: The speciﬁc communications or measures that indicate what is expected of employees in customer interactions and that deﬁne how employee service performance will be evaluated. Delivery systems: The way an organization delivers its products and services. Policies and procedures: The guidelines that establish how various situations or transactions will be handled. Products and services: The materials, products, and services that are state of the art, competitively priced, and meet the needs of customers. Management support: The availability of management to answer questions and assist front-line employees in customer interactions when necessary. Also, the level of management involvement and enthusiasm in coaching and mentoring professional development. Motivators and rewards: Monetary rewards, material items, or feedback that prompts employees to continue to deliver service and perform at a high level of effectiveness and efﬁciency. Training: Instruction or information provided through a variety of techniques that teach knowledge or skills, or attempt to inﬂuence employee attitude toward excellent service delivery. Service Philosophy or Mission mission The direction or focus of an organization that supports day-to-day interactions with customers. service philosophy The approach that an organization takes to providing service and addressing the needs of customers. Generally, an organization’s approach to business, its mission or its service philosophy, is driven from the top of the organization. Upper management, including members of the board of directors, when appropriate, sets the vision or tone and direction of the organization. Without a clearly planned and communicated vision, the service ethic ends at the highest levels. This is often a stumbling block where many organizations falter because of indecision or dissension at the upper echelons. Leadership, real and perceived, is crucial to service success. In successful organizations, members of upper management make themselves clearly Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 45 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture visible to frontline employees and are in tune with customer needs and expectations. Although it is wonderful when organizations go to the trouble of developing and hanging a nicely framed formal mission or philosophy statement on the wall, if it is not a functional way of life for employees, it serves little purpose. Employee Roles and Expectations In addition to some of the job responsibilities of service providers described in Chapter 1, many tasks and responsibilities are assigned to frontline service providers. Depending on your job, the size and type of your organization, and the industry involved, the employee roles and employee expectations may be similar from one organization to another, and yet they may be performed in a variety of different ways. Such roles and expectations are normally included in your job description and in your performance goals. They are updated as necessary during your tenure on the job. Where goals are concerned, you are typically measured against them during a performance period and subsequently rewarded or not rewarded, depending on your performance and your organization’s policy. 45 employee roles Task assignments that service providers assume. employee expectations Perceptions about positive and negative aspects of the workplace. RUMBA An acronym for ﬁve criteria (realistic, understandable, measurable, believable, and attainable) used to establish and measure employee performance goals. RUMBA For you and your organization to be successful in providing superior service to your external and internal customers, your roles and expectations must be clearly defined and communicated in terms of the following characteristics, sometimes referred to as RUMBA (Realistic, Understandable, Measurable, Believable, Attainable). Realistic Your behavior and responsibilities must be in line with the reality of your particular workplace and customer base. Although it is possible to transfer a standard of performance from one organization, and even industry, to another, modifications may be necessary to fit your specific situation. For example, is it realistic that all customer calls must be handled within a specified time period? Many managers set specific goals in terms of “talk time” for their customer service representatives. Can every angry customer be calmed and handled in a two- to threeminute time frame? If not, then a standard such as this sets up employees for failure. After a performance goal has been set for you, evaluate it fairly and objectively for a period of time (possibly 30 days). This allows time for a variety of opportunities to apply it. At the end of the specified trial period, if you think the goal is unrealistic, go to your supervisor or team leader and discuss modifying it. In preparation for this discussion, think of at least two viable alternatives to the goals. Also, recognize that performance goals are often driven by organizational goals that may be passed down from upper management. Although they might be modified, it may take some time for the change to come about, so be patient. Ultimately, if the goal cannot Customer Service Success Tip Meet with your supervisor to discuss your organization’s service philosophy and mission statement and what your role is related to helping accomplish this. If there are policies or other standards in place that make your job difﬁcult or impossible to successfully achieve, propose and discuss possible alternatives. Make sure that you have researched the options that you plan to propose and have examples of situations and organizations in which they have been successful. Also, approach the discussion from a positive, proactive approach rather than from an emotional, negative one in which you appear to be simply complaining or making excuses for performance that is not meeting current standards. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 46 WORK IT OUT 2.1 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Organizational Culture THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN ORGANIZATION’S SERVICE CULTURE OR, IF YOU’RE NOT ACTIVELY WORKING AS A CUSTOMER SERVICE PROFESSIONAL, THE CULTURE OF AN ORGANIZATION WITH WHICH YOU ARE FAMILIAR. 1. What do you believe the service philosophy of this organization to be? Why? 2. Are there things that make the organization unique? If so, what are they? 3. What factors (positive or negative) about employee performance in this organization stand out in your mind? 4. Are there factors about the culture that detract from effectiveness? If so, what are they? 5. If you were managing this organization, what service culture aspects would you change? Why? be modified, do your best to perform within the established standard so that your professional image does not suffer. Understandable You must have a sound understanding of your performance goals before you can act appropriately and effectively, just the way you need to understand how to do your job or how to communicate with others in the workplace. You should first try to participate in the establishment of your performance goals and those of your department or team. To do this, set up a meeting with your supervisor or team leader to discuss goals. Once goals are in place, you and everyone else affected must have a clear understanding of them so that you can effectively reach the assigned goal. If questions or doubts exist about a goal or your role in accomplishing it, make sure to clarify your understanding with a supervisor or team leader since you will ultimately be held accountable if you fail to reach a performance goal. This may impact professional opportunities and personal earning potential. Measurable service measurement Techniques used by organizations to determine how customers perceive the value of services and products received. 46 Can your performance be measured? The answer is yes. Typically, factors such as time, productivity, quantifiable results, revenue, and manner of performance (how you accomplish your job tasks in terms of following an established step-by-step formula) are used to determine your accomplishment of goals. In a production environment, or in certain sales environments, performance can be measured by reviewing the number of products made or sales completed. In a purely customer-focused environment, service measurement can be in terms of factors such as talk time on the telephone, number of customers effectively served, customer feedback surveys and satisfaction cards, and letters or other written correspondence— or, on the negative side, by customer complaints. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 47 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 ❉ Contributing to the Service Culture Ethical Dilemma 2.1 Assume that your organizational philosophy states in part that your purpose is “to provide quality products at a competitive price in a low-pressure customer atmosphere.” Even so, your supervisor establishes a goal that requires you to have “x” number of sales per shift as an outbound sales representative. Based on your research, this number is two more than the typical industry average for a salesperson during a work shift. You recognize that to achieve this goal, you will have to be more “persuasive” than you usually are when dealing with customers or than you feel comfortable in doing. 1. What ethical issue(s) do you face in this situation? 2. How might these impact service delivery? 3. What impact might this situation have on your performance? 4. How might this situation be addressed? See possible responses at the end of this chapter. Whatever the measure, it is your responsibility to be sure that you know the acceptable level and do your best to perform to that level. If something inhibits your performance, or if organizational obstacles such as conflicting priorities, overburdening multiple assignments, policies, procedures, equipment, or other employees stand in your way, you should immediately discuss the difficulties with the appropriate authority. Believable For any goal to be attained, it must be believable to the people who will strive to reach it and to the supervisors or team leaders who will monitor it. The biggest issues in developing goals are to make them worthy of belief and faithful to the values of the individual and organization, and to ensure that they make sense and tie in directly with the established overall departmental and organizational goals. Too often, employees are given assignments that are contrary to the ultimate purpose or mission and overall values or beliefs of the organization. This can create confusion about what is important and the direction to be taken and ultimately can impact the level of trust that service providers have with their supervisor and/or organization. Attainable Given the right training, management support, and organizational environment in which the tools, information, assistance, and rewards are provided, you can attain your goals. The determining factor, however, is you and your attitude toward achieving agreed-upon levels. Managers should always attempt to set up win/win situations in which you, your organization, and ultimately, the customer benefit from any service encounter. However, you should be aware that in the “real world” this does not always happen—systems break down. In such cases, it is up to you to ensure that service continues to be delivered to customers in a seamless fashion. They should not hear about internal problems, and quite honestly, the customers probably do not care about these problems. They 47 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 48 48 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession should be able to expect that the products and services they paid for are delivered when promised, in the manner agreed upon, and without inconvenience to them. Anything less is unacceptable and is poor service. Employee Roles in Larger Retail and Service Organizations As customers have matured in their knowledge of service standards and what they expect of providers, they look for certain qualifications in those who serve. They gain knowledge from numerous sources that help them be more savvy in their dealings with businesses (for example, Consumer Reports magazine; Internet research; and television shows such as “20/20,” “Dateline,” and “60 Minutes”). Many times, these customers become sticklers about service and when they do not get the level of service they expect, they take their business elsewhere and/or take legal action. In some cases, they might give the organization a second chance by complaining. This benevolent initiative, allowing organizations to “fix themselves,” is often done as a test. If you or your peers fail, several things can occur. You may not only lose a customer, but you may also “gain” an onslaught of negative word-of-mouth publicity that can irreparably damage an organization’s image as a whole, and yours specifically. Customers expect service employees to typically have at least the following qualifications and competencies in both large and small organizations: • Broad general knowledge of products and service • Interpersonal communication skills (e.g., verbal, nonverbal, and listening along with cross-gender and cross-cultural communication) • Technical expertise related to products sold and serviced • Positive, customer-focused, “can-do” attitude • Initiative • Motivation • Integrity • Loyalty (to the organization, to products, and to customers) • Team spirit • Creativity • Sound ethics • Time management skills • Problem-solving capability • Conflict resolution skills Such skills and capabilities are crucial, whether you are operating a cash register, polishing a car, handling a returned item, repairing a sink, questioning a crime witness or suspect, coaching an executive or technical manager (for example, a consultant who offers seminars on enhancing interpersonal skills), or dealing with a negative situation (for example, a shoplifter or disgruntled customer). If you fail to possess and/or exhibit any or all of these factors, the end result could be a breakdown in the relationship between you and your customer, with ultimately negative repercussions. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 49 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture Employee Roles in Smaller Retail and Service Organizations The growth of small businesses since the early 1990s has skyrocketed, especially women- and minority-owned businesses. Many small business entrepreneurs started out of necessity (because of layoffs or downsizing) or out of frustration caused by limitations within a larger structure (lack of promotion opportunity, low salaries, actual or perceived discrimination, poor management, or continual changes). With this massive growth of sole proprietorships (one-owner businesses) and small businesses has come more choice for customers. This growth has also created problems for people making the transition from large to small organizations. This is because, in addition to having to possess all the qualifications and characteristics listed earlier, employees in small businesses perform greatly varied tasks. Typically, the human resources and technical systems they might call upon for support are limited. If something goes wrong, they cannot “bump the problem upstairs,” nor can they obtain immediate, on-site assistance. This often causes customer frustration or anger. The types of jobs that fall into this struggling category run the gamut of industries. Some examples are: • • • • • • • • • • • • • Administrative assistant (freelance) Accountant Consultant Automotive mechanic Computer technician Salesperson Caterer Tailor Personal shopper Office support staff Hair stylist Masseuse/masseur Office equipment repairer • • • • • • Office cleaning staff Child care provider Gardener Electrician and plumber Electronics repairperson Visiting nurse or nurse consultant • Driver • Temporary worker To stave off failure and help ensure that customer needs are identified and satisfied, owners and employees in such establishments must continually strive to gain new knowledge and skills while working hard to deliver a level of service equal to that offered by the bigger organizations. The public is generally unforgiving and, like an elephant, has a long memory— especially when service breaks down. If you work in this type of environment, look for opportunities to provide stellar service and really go out of your way to practice your people skills. Get back to the basics that you will learn more about in Chapters 3 to 5—listen, ask questions, provide feedback, communicate well—and do not miss an opportunity to let your customers know that they are special and that you are there to serve their needs. 49 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 50 50 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession Employee Roles in Nonproﬁt Organizations Even though revenue generation is not the primary goal in nonprofit organizations, money is a significant force. Without donations, grants, and other fundraising efforts, such organizations cannot provide the crucial services and products and deliverables to their customer/client base (often lower-income and older people or others who have few other alternatives for attainment of needed items and services). In such organizations, administrators, staff, and volunteers provide a wide degree of services and support. Unless these workers maintain a cheerful, positive, and professional attitude, revenue and service levels might plummet. They must never forget that everyone with whom they come into contact is either a potential donor or recipient of products and services. The following qualiﬁcations and competencies are very helpful for anyone working in a nonproﬁt environment. • • • • • • • • • • • • • Speciﬁc knowledge of the organization and products and services it provides Interpersonal communication skills Positive, customer-focused “can do” attitude Initiative Motivation to succeed Integrity Commitment to others Volunteer spirit Team orientation Sound ethical attitude Time management skills Problem-solving ability (ability to think “outside the box”) Entrepreneur spirit (ability to work in an environment in which free thinking and creativity are encouraged and needed) Policies and Procedures Although there are a lot of local, state, and federal regulations with which you and your organization must comply, many policies are flexible. For example, if you go to your bank to deposit a fairly large check that exceeds the maximum amount the bank will accept, the teller may inform you that there will be a 7-day hold put on the check until it clears the sender’s bank. In this case, you might petition the branch manager and possibly get this period modified, since you are dealing with a “bank” policy. Many customers negatively meet organizational culture directly when a service provider hides behind “company policy” to handle a problem. The goal should be to respond to policy customer requests and satisfy needs as quickly, efficiently, and cheerfully as possible. Anything less is an invitation for criticism, dissatisfaction, potential customer loss, and employee frustration. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 51 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Return policies in a retail environment are a case in point. Even though customers may not always be “right,” they must be treated with respect and as if they are right in order to effectively provide service and generate future relationships. An effective return policy is part of the overall service process. In addition to service received, the return policy of an organization is another gauge customers use to determine where they will spend their time and money. The return statements shown in Figure 2.4 send specific messages about the organizational culture of both organizations. Notice the tone or service culture that radiates from each example. Think about your “gut” reaction as a customer when you read both policies. Organizations often hang up fancy posters and banners touting such claims as, “The customer is always right,” “The customer is No. 1,” or “We’re here to serve YOU!” But at the moment of truth, when customers come into con- Owners and employees in sole proprietorships tact with employees, they frequently hear, “Please take a must work hard to deliver service equal to that number so we can better serve you,” “I can’t do that,” or given by larger organizations. How can an owner (on the phone) “ABC Company, please hold—CLICK.” make his or her organization special or different? Clearly, when these things occur, the culture is not customer-focused and service has broken down. The important question for organizations is, “How do we fix our system?” The answer: make a commitment to the customer and establish an environment that will support that commitment. That’s where you come in as a customer service professional. Through conscientious and concerned assistance to customers, the organization can form a solid relationship with the consumer through its employees. ❉ Ethical Dilemma 2.2 Your organization’s return policy stresses that “Our goal is your total satisfaction,” yet you have been told by your supervisor that returns cost the organization money and negatively impact her quarterly bonus. For that reason, she has instructed you and other employees that you should ﬁnd a reason not to accept returns and provide refunds whenever possible (e.g., a package was opened, it has been more than 7 days since purchase, a receipt is not provided, or the item is being discontinued and the manufacturer will not take it back). She has even suggested that you lie to a customer or make up an excuse rather than accept a return. Further, she instructed you that all returns and refunds must be approved by her, yet when she is paged over the intercom, she typically does not respond and leaves you and other service employees to face an escalating negative customer situation. 1. How does such a service atmosphere potentially impact customers? Employees? 2. What message does this approach to service say about the organization? 3. What are potential outcomes of such practices by the supervisor? 4. What can you and other employees do to address the situation? 51 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 52 WORK IT OUT 2.2 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile THINK ABOUT THE TWO RETURN POLICIES IN FIGURE 2.4 What is your reaction to policy example 1? Why? What is your reaction to policy example 2? Why? Figure 2.4 Sample Return Policies Policy 1 To err is human; to return is just ﬁne . . . Already read the book? Pages printed upside down? The package arrived bruised, battered, and otherwise weary from the trip? Actually, the only reason you need to return an item bought from us is this: You’re not satisﬁed . . . Having the chance to talk with our customer helps us learn and improve our service. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the [organization’s name] customer policy: YOU’RE RIGHT! Policy 2 Return Policy Returns must meet the following criteria: 1. Books must be received within thirty (30) days of the invoice date. Please allow one week for shipping. 2. Books must be received in salable condition. Damaged books will not be accepted for credit. 3. Refunds will not be made on videotapes and software unless they were defective at the time of purchase. Please notify [organization’s name] of any such defects within ten (10) days of the invoice date. Return Shipping Information Returns must be shipped to [organization’s name and full address]. Any returns not shipped to the above address will not be credited and FULL PAYMENT for shipping will be the responsibility of the shipper. All charges incurred in returning materials, including customer’s charges, if any, are the responsibility of the shipper. Ensure that your returns are not lost or damaged. Comments and Feedback We value your opinion! If you need to return any of the enclosed material, please take a minute to let us know why. Your comments and suggestions will help us better meet your needs in the future. Products and Services The type and quality of products and services also contribute to your organizational culture. If customers perceive that you offer reputable products and services in a professional manner and at a competitive price, your organization will likely reap the rewards of loyalty and positive “press.” On the other hand, if products and services do not live up to expectations or promises, or if your ability to correct problems in products and services is deficient, you and the organization could suffer adversely. 52 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 53 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture Motivators and Rewards In any employee environment, people work more effectively and productively when their performance is recognized and adequately rewarded. Whether the rewards are in the form of monetary or material items, or a simple verbal pat on the back by the manager, most employees expect and thrive on some form of recognition. As a way of managing your own motivation level, it is important to remember that there will be many times when your only motivation and reward for accomplishing a goal or providing quality service will come from you. The reality is that every time you do something well or out of the ordinary, you may not receive a financial or any other kind of reward for it. On the other hand, many companies and supervisors go out of their way to recognize good performance. Many use public recognition, contests, games, employee activities (sporting or other events), financial rewards, incentives (gifts or trips), employee of the month or year awards, and a variety of other techniques to show appreciation for employee efforts. Whatever your organization does, there is always room for improvement and you should take time to make recommendations of your own on ways to reward employees. Management Support You cannot be expected to handle every customer-related situation that develops. In some instances, you will have to depend on the knowledge and assistance of a more experienced employee or your supervisor or manager and defer to his or her experience or authority. A key role played by your manager, supervisor, and/or team leader is to provide effective, ongoing coaching, counseling, and training to you and your peers. By doing this, supervisors can pass on valuable information, guide you, and aid your professional development. Also, it is their job to be alert to your performance and ensure that you receive appropriate rewards based on your ability to interact effectively with customers and fulfill the requirements of your job. Unfortunately, many supervisors have not had adequate training that would enable them to provide you with the support you need. They were probably good frontline service providers, with a high degree of motivation, initiative, and ability. As a result, their management promoted them, often without providing the necessary training, coaching, and guidance to develop their supervisory skills. In other instances, they may be as overwhelmed with job responsibilities as you are. Even they may recognize the importance of coaching and intend to do so; they may simply not have the time. If you find that you are not receiving the support you need, there are some things you should consider doing in order to ensure that you have the information, skills, and support to provide quality service to your customers. Strive for Improvement Customer service can be frustrating, and in some instances, monotonous. You may need to create self-motivation strategies and continue to seek fulfillment 53 Customer Service Success Tip To get the information you need, you may have to take the initiative. Your customer does not want to hear you say, “Nobody showed me how,” “I can’t,” “I don’t know,” or “It’s not my job.” Remember what you read earlier about seamless service. Here are some questions you might ask your supervisor related to job responsibilities: • What are my exact duties? (Get a copy of your job description in writing, if possible.) • What are your expectations of me? • How do I handle [name speciﬁc] situations? • Who should I see about ? • Where are [materials, policies, equipment] located? • Who is in charge when you are not available? • What is my level of authority? Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 54 WORK IT OUT 2.3 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Managing Customer Encounters TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO RESPOND TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. Then your instructor may group you with others to discuss responses. 1. Have you ever witnessed or experienced a customer service situation in which a supervisor or manager became involved in an employee-customer encounter? If so, what occurred? 2. How do you feel the supervisor handled the situation? 3. Could the supervisor’s approach have been improved? If so, how? or satisfaction. By remaining optimistic and projecting a can-do image that makes customers enjoy dealing with you, you can influence yourself and others. Smile as an outward gesture of your “I care” philosophy. Many self-help publications and courses are available that can offer guidance in this area. Look for ways to improve your skills and to raise the level of service you provide to your customer. Whether it is through formal training, mentoring, or simply observing positive service techniques used by others and mimicking them, work to improve your own skills. The more you know, the better you can assist customers and move your own career forward. Look for a Strong Mentor in Your Organization mentors Individuals who dedicate time and effort to befriend and assist others. In an organization, they are typically people with a lot of knowledge, experience, skills, and initiative, and have a large personal and professional network established. mentees Typically less experienced recipients of the efforts of mentors. Many organizations have realized that to provide succession planning for the future that they must create a system whereby junior supervisors and managers or future leaders are guided in their personal and professional development by those with more expertise, tenure, and contacts. This is going to become even more crucial in the future because of the coming “brain drain” in which thousands of older workers will retire and exit the workplace in virtually every industry and type of organization. When they go, they will take decades of experience and knowledge and leave behind a huge gap in many organizations, especially, those that have not created an effective exit strategy or prepared others to step into key roles and positions. One viable strategy is to put into place a strong organizationally sponsored and supported mentoring program. Mentors are people who are well acquainted with the organization and its policies, politics, and processes. They are well connected (inside and outside the organization), communicate well, have the ability and desire to assist you (the mentee), and are capable and experienced. Ask these people to provide support and help you grow personally and professionally. Many good books on the topic of mentoring are available. Figures 2.5 and 2.6 list some characteristics of a mentor and mentee. Avoid Complacency Anyone can go to work and just do what he or she is told. The people who excel, especially in a service environment, are the ones who constantly 54 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 55 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO THINK ABOUT AND RESPOND TO THESE QUESTIONS. Once you have responded, your instructor may form groups and have you share answers. WORK IT OUT 2.4 1. What type of skills training do you believe would be valuable for a customer service professional? Why? 2. What types of training have you had or do you need to qualify for a service position? strive for improvement and look for opportunities to grow professionally. They also take responsibility or ownership for service situations. Take the time to think about the systems, policies, and procedures in place in your organization. Can they be improved? How? Now take that information or awareness and make recommendations for improvements. Even though managers have a key role, the implementation and success of cultural initiatives (practices or actions taken by the organization) rest with you, the frontline employee. You are the one who interacts directly with a customer and often determines the outcome of the contact. When searching for someone to mentor you, look for these characteristics: • Willingness to be a mentor • Experience in the organization or industry and/or job you need help with • Knowledgeable about the organization and industry • Good communicator (verbal, nonverbal, and listening skills) • Aware of the organizational culture • Well connected inside and outside the organization • Enthusiastic • Good coaching skills and a good motivator • Charismatic • Trustworthy • Patient • Creative thinker • Self-conﬁdent • Good problem solver Figure 2.5 Characteristics of an Effective Mentor Since mentoring is a two-way process, you should make sure that you are ready to have a mentor. You should have the following characteristics: • • • • • Willingness to participate, listen, and learn Desire to improve and grow Commitment to working with a mentor Self-conﬁdence Effective communication skills • • • • Enthusiasm Openness to feedback Adaptability Willingness to ask questions Figure 2.6 Characteristics of a Successful Mentee 55 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 56 56 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession empowerment The word used to describe the giving of decision-making and problemresolution authority to lowerlevel employees in an organization. This precludes having to get permission from higher levels in order to take an action or serve a customer. Customer Service Success Tip If your supervisor empowers you to make decisions, that means he/she trusts your ability to handle various issues. Do not take this trust lightly. Before taking action, stop, weigh alternatives, and then resolve the situation to the best of your ability in order to send a message of competency and professionalism. As a service provider, think of customer situations in which you have to get approval from a supervisor or manager before making a decision or taking action to serve your customers. If you feel having to do so is causing a delay in serving your customers, approach your supervisor and suggest having decision-making authority given to you. Some examples of possible empowerment situations include the following: • A cashier has to call a supervisor for approval of a customer’s personal check. • A cable television installer has to call the ofﬁce for approval before adding a hookup for another room. • A computer technician cannot comply with a customer’s request that she make a backup CD-ROM of her hard drive before running a diagnostic test because policy prohibits it. (continued) Some people might throw up their hands and say, “It wasn’t my fault,” “Nobody else cares, why should I,” or “I give up.” A special person looks for ways around roadblocks in order to provide quality service for customers. The fact that others are not doing their job does not excuse you from doing yours. You are being paid a salary to accomplish specific job tasks. Do them with gusto and with pride. Your customers expect no less. You and your customers will reap the rewards of your efforts and initiative. Employee Empowerment Employee empowerment is one way for a supervisor to help ensure that service providers can respond quickly to customer needs or requests. The intent of empowerment is a delegation of authority where a frontline service provider can take action without having to call a supervisor or ask permission. Such authority allows on-the-spot responsiveness to the customer while making service representatives feel trusted, respected, and like an important part of the organization. Empowerment is also an intangible way that successful service organizations reward employees. Often someone who has decision-making authority feels better about himself or herself and the organization. Training The importance of effective training cannot be overstated. To perform your job successfully and create a positive impression in the minds of customers, you and other frontline employees must be given the necessary tools. Depending on your position and your organization’s focus, this training might address interpersonal skills, technical skills, organizational awareness, or job skills, again depending on your position. Most important, your training should help you know what is expected of you and how to fulfill those expectations. Training is a vehicle for accomplishing this and is an essential component of any organizational culture that supports customer service. Take advantage of training programs. Check with your supervisor and/or training department, if there is one. If you work in a small company or nonprofit organization, have a limited budget for training, or do not have access to training through your organization, look for other resources. Many communities have lists of seminars available through the public library, college business programs, high schools, chambers of commerce, professional organizations, and a variety of other organizations. The Internet also offers a wealth of articles and information. Tap into these to gain the knowledge and skills you will need to move ahead. Also, your training and skill level will often determine whether you keep your job if your organization is forced to downsize and reduce staff. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 57 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture LO 2-2 Establishing a Service Strategy Concept A service provider helps determine approaches for service success. The first step a company should take in creating or redefining its service environment is to make sure it knows who its customers really are and how it plans to attract and hold those customers. Many organizations do not even consider this crucial step when creating a business plan or developing their culture. Next, the organization should conduct an inspection of its systems and practices (e.g., policies, procedures, service and product delivery mechanisms, customer care strategies, and practices for identifying potential customer dissatisfaction in advance and correcting it) to decide where the company is now and where it needs to be in order to better serve customers and to be competitive in a global service economy. The manner in which internal (co-workers and supervisors) and external customer (anyone outside the organization) needs are addressed should also be reviewed. For example, are surveys, focus groups, or customer-provider meetings/ forums conducted? It is not just your organization’s responsibility to ensure the success of customer service. As a service professional, you have to be familiar with the organization’s goals and work toward helping make them successful. A simple way to accomplish this is to give thought to your role in the service process and continually re-evaluate what you do on a daily basis when dealing with customers. If you have a positive experience, recognize what made it so and strive to repeat that behavior with other customers. If something went wrong when serving a customer, objectively evaluate the situation and decide what role, if any, that you played in a less-than-successful outcome. If you determine that you could have done better, decide on a more positive approach for the future. If you are unsure how to prevent a recurrence of the service breakdown, ask advice from co-workers or your supervisor. As a service provider, you should do your part in determining needed approaches for service success. From the perspective of a customer service professional, ask yourself the following questions to help clarify your role: • Who is my customer? • What am I currently doing, or what can I do, to help achieve organizational excellence? • Do I focus all my efforts on total customer satisfaction? • Am I empowered to make the decisions necessary to serve my customer? If not, what levels of authority should I discuss with my supervisor? • Are there policies and procedures that inhibit my ability to serve the customer? If so, what recommendations about changing policies and procedures can I make? • When was the last time I told my customers that I sincerely appreciated their business? • In what areas of organizational skills and product and service knowledge do I need additional information? 57 • A call center service representative does not have the authority to reverse late payment charges on the account of a customer who explained that he was in the hospital for three weeks with surgery complications. • A bank representative cannot waive returned check fees even though she acknowledges the bank created the error that resulted in bounced checks in the ﬁrst place. • An assistant cruise purser cannot correct a billing error until the purser returns from lunch. • A volunteer coordinator must check with the director before allowing a worker to implement a new process that she recommends to expedite service delivery to a client. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 58 58 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession LO 2-3 Customer-Friendly Systems Concept System components are advertising, complaint resolution, and delivery systems. A service culture starts at the top of an organization and filters down to the frontline employee. By demonstrating their commitment to quality service efforts, managers lead by example. It’s not enough to authorize glitzy service promotional campaigns and send out directives informing employees of management’s support for customer initiatives; managers must get involved. Further, employees must take initiative to solve problems and better serve the customer. They must be alert for opportunities and make recommendations for improvement whenever appropriate. Only in these situations can changes and improvements in the culture occur. Typical System Components customer-friendly systems Refers to the processes in an organization that make service seamless to customers by ensuring that things work properly and the customer is satisﬁed. Part of the effectiveness in serving customers can be accomplished through policies and practices that say “We care” or “You’re important to us.” Some customer-friendly systems that can send positive messages are: Advertising Advertising campaigns should send a message that products and services are competitive in price and that the quality and quantity are at least comparable to those of competitors. Otherwise, customers will likely go elsewhere. An advertisement that appears to be deceptive can cost the organization customers and its reputation. For example, if an advertisement states that something is “free” (a cup of coffee, a buy-one, get-one-free item, tire rotation, or a consultation) but somewhere in the advertisement (in small print) there are restrictions (“with a purchase of $20 or more,” “while supplies last,” “if you buy two new tires,” or “if you sign a one-year contract),” then it may be viewed as deceptive. To prevent misunderstandings as a service provider, make sure that you point out such restrictions to customers when they call or ask questions. If The best way to create a service culture is to get everyone in the organization you notice that an advertisement involved in planning and brainstorming. Everyone should be encouraged to sounds a bit “tricky,” inform your share ideas about how and where internal changes need to be made and to be more responsive to customer needs. How do you think these ideas can be supervisor immediately. Possibly the ad was not proofread carefully shared most effectively? Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 59 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture enough before it was printed and/or aired. Remember, you have a vested interest in your organization’s success. Take ownership. Complaint or Problem Resolution The manner in which complaints or problems are handled can signal the organization’s concern for customer satisfaction. If an employee has to get approvals for the smallest decisions, the customer may have to wait for a supervisor to arrive (a supermarket cashier has to call for a manager to approve a check for $10, and when the supervisor arrives, he or she doesn’t even look at the check before signing and walking away). This can lead to customer and employee frustration and irritation and makes the organization, and the service provider, look inept. As a service professional, you should make recommendations for improvement whenever you spot a roadblock or system that impedes provision of service excellence. Service Delivery Systems Your organization must determine the best way to deliver quality products and service and to provide effective follow-up support. Everything you do in customer service is crucial. This includes the way information is made available to customers, initial contacts and handling of customer issues, sales techniques (hard sell versus relationship selling), order collection and processing, price quotations, product and service delivery, processing paperwork, invoicing, and follow-up. Customers should not have to deal with internal policies, practices, or politics. They should be able to contact you, get the information they need, make a buying decision, where appropriate, and have the products or services they have selected flawlessly delivered in a timely, professional manner. Anything less is poor service and may cost your organization in terms of lost business, customers, or reputation. Customers also expect value for their money. Part of this is professional, easy-to-access service. For example, if you are in a retail organization and do not have an 800, 877, or 888 number with online customer support, extended hours of operation, top-quality merchandise, and effective resolution of problems, your customers may rebel. They can do this by complaining, speaking negative word-of-mouth publicity, writing letters to consumer advocacy groups (television or radio stations; Better Business Bureaus; local, state, and federal government agencies), and/or going elsewhere for their needs. Additionally, if your company’s Web site is not kept up to date (or if your company has no Web presence), or if the Web site is difficult to navigate, customers may go elsewhere. Customers want to quickly “click” for their information. Web sites that are hard to navigate or that take a long time to load up will often be abandoned by customers. There are many ways available for delivering service to customers. Two key factors involved in delivery are transportation modes (how products and services are physically delivered—by truck, train, plane, U.S. Postal Service, courier, and electronically) and location (facilities located centrally 59 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 60 60 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession and easily accessible by customers). You will explore the use of technology in service delivery in detail when you read Chapter 9. The location can be crucial to nonprofit organizations and medical or dental care providers since many clients or patients do not have access to dependable transportation. They often have to depend on friends, family, and public transportation to access services and products. Direct or Indirect Systems service delivery systems The mechanisms or strategies used by an organization to provide service to customers. The type of delivery system used (direct or indirect contact) is important because it affects staffing numbers, costs, technology, scheduling, and many other factors. The major difference between the two types of systems is that in a direct contact environment, customers interact directly with people, whereas in an indirect system their needs are met primarily with self-service through technology (possibly integrated with the human factor an in customer contact/call centers) integrated with Internet services. There is a delicate balance in selecting a service delivery system. This is because each customer is unique and has personal preferences. While many prefer a hands-off self-service approach, others resent it and often view it as a loss of caring. Many banks discovered this fact in recent years. They saw technology as a cost-saving strategy to deliver service. Branches were closed as money was spent to upgrade automated phone systems and add automatic teller machines (ATMs). Many customers rebelled. The result is that companies like Bank One are now increasing their branch locations and retrofitting their branches and ATMs. Washington Mutual touts a high-touch customer environment complete with free checking, comfortable waiting areas, and play areas for children. In addition, like many organizations, these companies use automated attendant phone systems that allow callers to speak or manually enter information with their telephone touchpad. Figure 2.7 shows some ways by which organizations are providing service to customers and prospective customers. Third-Party Delivery (Outsourcing/Offshoring) In recent years, as companies strive to reduce costs, increase profit, and stay ahead of the competition, an interesting trend has occurred. Many companies are eliminating internal positions and delegating, assigning, or hiring outside (third-party) organizations and individuals to assume eliminated and newly created roles (call center customer support functions, human resource benefits administration, accounting functions, and marketing) for an agreed upon price (normally without the extra cost of benefits). Typically, outsourced (within your country and offshored outside your country) positions are noncore (e.g., management or product design/ development). Many third-party providers and the jobs outsourced are located in India, Mexico, and a number of other developing nations where the labor supply is large and the cost of doing business is much lower. Major U.S. companies like American Express, Citigroup, Microsoft, and others have found this offshoring strategy of exporting job assignments to other Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 61 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture Many industries are using technology to provide service that has traditionally been obtained by a customer going to a supplier and meeting face to face with an organization’s representative. The following lists compare the traditional (direct) and technological (indirect) approaches. Direct Contact Indirect Contact Face to face Bank tellers Reservationists (airlines, hotels) Front desk staff (hotels) Ticket takers (theme parks) Customer service representatives 800, 877, 888 telephone number Automated teller machines or online banking Online computer reservations On-screen, in-room television checkout and bill viewing Ticket scanners Online viewing to provide balance or billing information (credit card companies) Telephone tip lines or e-mail Self-service ﬁlm kiosk or Internet transmission of digital images Online ordering and delivery In-car navigation and notiﬁcation systems Self-service checkout cash registers Lawyers Photo developers Supermarket clerks Towing dispatchers Receptionists countries to be a lucrative practice. They save millions of dollars in taxes and revenue by distributing call center and service functions outside the borders of the United States. According to an article in Harvard Management Update, GMAC embarked on an outsourcing initiative that resulted in a “reduced staff by 85 percent in the company’s real estate and facilitiesmanagement function and saved $6.74 million in the first year.”1 This practice of outsourcing (see Chapter 1 for definition) provides multiple benefits while also bringing with it some downsides. On the positive side, companies can save money by: • Eliminating large ongoing salaries • Reducing health benefits, retirement, and 401(k) payments • Avoiding the need to purchase and update computers and equipment and a myriad of other equipment • Bringing in new, fresh expertise and perspectives from outside the organization And, on the negative side: • Long-term employee expertise is lost. • Employee loyalty to the organization suffers. • The morale of the “survivors” (employees whose jobs were not eliminated) is adversely affected. • Managing becomes more complex. • Customers must deal with “strangers” with whom they cannot build a long-term relationship because their provider may be gone the next time they call or stop by. Figure 2.7 Service Delivery Systems 61 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 62 62 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession • Response time in getting a job or task completed may occur because of distance or other factors. • Quality of work is not always up to expectations internally or for customers (e.g., dealing with service representatives who have hard-tounderstand accents or do not fully understand the customer’s culture or expectations). Many organizations have adopted the practice of redesignating job positions as either part-time or shared (by two employees who are both parttime and therefore do not qualify for all benefits because of the number of hours they work). Another common strategy is to fill positions with “temporary” employees contracted through a temporary staffing agency. All of this is done in an effort to reduce rising employee costs (especially benefits) while providing the necessary customer support. Tools for Service Measurement In a customer-oriented environment, it is important to constantly gauge service effectiveness. Organizations can use many ways to find out how well you and your peers are doing in serving customers. Once the results of organizational self-assessments are obtained, they will likely be shared with you and other employees in an effort to determine ways to reduce shortcomings and enhance strengths. If your supervisor fails to share such results, simply ask. Again, you have a vested interest in improvement and if he or she forgets to include you in the improvement loop—or intentionally omits you—you should take the initiative to demonstrate that you do care and are concerned with customer service delivery. Among other responsibilities, customer service professionals make a point of communicating their company’s commitment to service in face-to-face interactions with customers. What skills does a customer service representative need to create a positive service culture when talking with customers? Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 63 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture Here are some of the typical techniques or tools available for customer service data collection: Employee focus groups. In such groups, you and others might be asked to comment or develop ideas on various topics related to customer service or employee and organizational issues. Although you will be providing interesting and valuable insights from your own perspective, remember that your views may differ significantly from those of your customers. For this reason, if your ideas are not implemented, do not be discouraged. Overriding organizational and customer issues to which you are not privy may be the reason. Employee opinion surveys. Such surveys are often done yearly to gain employee perspectives on how well policies, procedures, management, technology, and other systems perform. Customer focus groups. Like the employee groups, these forums provide an opportunity to gather a group of customers (selected geographically, demographically by factors such as age, sex, race, income, or interests, or randomly from lists). Customer focus groups are brought together to answer specific questions related to some aspect of product or service. Mystery shoppers. These people may be internal employees or external consultants who pose as customers in on-site visits, over the telephone or online, to determine how well customers are being served. Customer satisfaction surveys. This type of survey can be written or orally administered. It could be something as simple as an employee or manager chatting with customers at a restaurant and gathering their feedback, or it could be something more formal. Customers are sometimes asked to complete a brief questionnaire at the end of their service transaction. Some organizations do follow-up telephone satisfaction surveys; others put their surveys on their Web site and encourage feedback. Customers are often enticed to participate in a survey through the use of gifts, prizes, and discounts. Customer comment cards. Many food service and hospitality businesses use these simple cards to get immediate reactions and comments from customers after a visit. They are also used in doctors’ and dentists’ offices, nonprofit organizations, government offices, and anywhere else where managers really care about what their customers and clients think. Profit and loss statements or management reports. These reports are invaluable in spotting trends or dramatic changes in profits or losses that might indicate or lead to a service breakdown. Employee exit interviews. These interviews are typically administered by the human resources or personnel department, or in smaller organizations, an officer or owner might informally ask questions of a departing employee. Such information can identify trends or concerns. Departing employees often feel that they have nothing to lose and will candidly provide valuable feedback about management practices, policies, and procedures, and a multitude of other organizational issues. 63 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 64 64 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession Walk-through audits. Create a checklist of service factors (for example, responsiveness, friendliness, and so on) for supervisors or managers to use as they walk through a store or service facility to view the operations from a customer’s perspective. On-site management visits. These visits provide firsthand observation of service practice and allow interaction between managers, employees, and customers. They are especially helpful when there are off-site workers (at construction sites or branch offices), or operations consulting projects, or in-home services (such as plumbing). A side benefit of these types of visits is that they show the organization is committed to fulfilling the customers’ needs. Management inspections. As a follow-up to employee service delivery, many organizations often have supervisors or managers follow up on service performed by checking the work or asking the customers how they liked the service or product received (e.g., at a carwash after the cleaning of a vehicle). Sometimes, these checks are done over the telephone or via the Internet. LO 2-4 Twelve Strategies for Promoting a Positive Service Culture Concept To perform effectively as a customer service professional, you will need a plan. Here are 12 strategies for service success. 1. Explore your organization’s vision. By working to better understand the focus of the organization and asking yourself, “What’s the added value and results for me?” (AVARFM), you can develop your own commitment to helping make the organization successful. An example of AVARFM might occur when a new policy is implemented that requires you to answer a phone by the third ring. A “mystery caller” system is in place as a means of monitoring compliance. Also, to each employee who meets the three-ring standard, rewards are given. You now have a reason or added value associated with compliance. 2. Help communicate the culture and vision to customers—daily. Customers have specific expectations. It does no good for the organization to have a vision if you do not help communicate and demonstrate it to the customer. Many companies place slogans and posters throughout the workplace or service area to communicate the vision. Although these approaches reinforce the message, a more effective means is for you to deliver quality customer service regularly. Through your attitude, language, appearance, knowledge of products and services, body language, and the way you communicate with your customers, they will feel your commitment to serve them. You will read more about techniques for presenting yourself professionally in later chapters. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 65 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture 3. Demonstrate ethical behavior. Ethical behavior is based on values— those of the society, organization, and employees. These values are a combination of beliefs, ideologies, perceptions, experiences, and a sense of what is right (appropriate) and wrong (inappropriate). Successful demonstration of ethical behavior is often determined by the values of the customer and how he or she perceives your behavior, and the customer often holds you and your organization to high standards. Thus, it is crucial for you to be aware of your words and actions so that you do not inadvertently send a negative ethical message to your customers. How do you know which values your organization holds as important? Many times, they are communicated in an employee manual distributed during new hire orientation. Sometimes they are emblazoned on a plaque on the wall, possibly as part of the mission or philosophy statement or next to it. However, the reality test or “where the rubber meets the road” related to your organization’s values comes in the dayto-day operational actions of you and your organization. From an ethical standpoint, it is often up to you and your frontline peers to assess the situation, listen to your customers’ requests, scrutinize your organizational policies and procedures, consider all options, and then make the “right” decision. This decision is fair—to your customer and your organization—and it is morally and legally right. A 1999 movie (The Insider with Al Pacino and Russell Crowe) epitomized the issues of ethical behavior. The movie is based on the true story of a tobacco industry insider who blew the whistle on his company, which publicly denied the harmful side effects of smoking. Even though the man stood to lose everything, possibly even his life, he acted out of conscience in an effort to help others. Another movie, Erin Brockovich, demonstrated what can happen if unethical behavior is not immediately caught and corrected by an organization. In that movie, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) dumped chemicals into the soil and water of Hinkley, California, for years. They then covered up the pollution even though many of the local residents developed serious health problems and died. The company even paid medical bills for some residents to give the appearance of a good corporate neighbor. Ultimately, Erin was able to piece together the details while working for a small legal firm and a class-action lawsuit resulted in the largest class-action lawsuit payment in history at the time and severe damage to the reputation of PG&E. The key to ongoing customer relations is trust. Without it, you have no relationship and cannot win customer loyalty. 4. Identify and improve your service skills. Take an inventory of your interpersonal and customer service skills; use the strengths, and improve the weaker areas. By continually upgrading your knowledge and skills related to people, customer service, and products and services offered, you position yourself as a resource to the customer and an asset to the organization. There is a list of different Web sites offering various behavioral style surveys at www.mhhe.com/customerservice if you 65 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 66 66 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession wish to pursue learning more about yourself. Some sites periodically offer a shortened or beta test version of surveys they develop. 5. Become an expert on your organization. As the frontline contact person with customers, you are likely to receive a variety of questions related to the organization. Typical questions involve organizational history, structure, policies and procedures systems, products, or services. By being well versed in the many facets of the organization and its operation, related industry topics, and your competition, you can project a more knowledgeable, helpful, and confident image that contributes to total As a frontline contact with customers, you will be asked a variety customer satisfaction. of questions about the company and its products. What skills will 6. Demonstrate commitment. As an emyou need and what information should you give customers in this situation? ployee with customer contact opportunities and responsibilities, you are the organization’s representative. One mistake that many frontline employees (and many supervisors) make in communications with customers is to intentionally or unintentionally demonstrate a lack of commitment or support for their company and a sense of powerlessness. A common way in which this occurs is with the use of “they” language when dealing with customers. This can be in reference to management or policies or procedures, for example, “Mrs. Howard, I’d like to help but our policy says . . .” or “Mrs. Howard, I’ve checked on your request, but my manager (they) said we can’t. . . .” An alternative to using “they” language is to take ownership or responsibility for a situation by telling the customer what you can do, not what you cannot do. Customers are not interested in internal strife or procedures; they want to have their needs satisfied. To try to involve customers in situations that are out of their control and that do not concern them is unfair and unwise. Positive language and effort on your part can reduce or eliminate unnecessarily dragging the customer Customer Service in. Here’s one approach: “Mrs. Howard, I’m terribly sorry that you were Success Tip inconvenienced by our mistake (policy or omission). What I can do to Even if your organization help resolve this situation is . . . .” does not have a formal policy 7. Partner with customers. Customers are the reason you have a job and regarding returning calls, the reason your organization continues to exist. With that in mind, you business etiquette dictates that you return all calls and do so should do whatever you can to promote a positive, healthy customerwithin 24 hours or by the next provider relationship. This can be done in a number of ways, many of business day. Even better, do which will be addressed in detail in later chapters. Here are some simso by the close of the business day if possible. Teleple techniques: phone skills will be discussed • Communicate openly and effectively. in more detail in Chapter 9. • Smile—project a positive image. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 67 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture • Listen intently, and then respond appropriately. • Facilitate situations in which customer needs are met and you succeed in win/win situations helping accomplish organizational goals. • Focus on developing an ongoing relationship with customers instead of taking a one-time service or sales opportunity approach. 8. Work with your customer’s interest in mind. Think to yourself, “If I were my customer, what type of service would I expect?” Then, set out to provide that service. 9. Treat vendors and suppliers as customers. Some customer service employees view vendors and suppliers as salespeople whose only purpose is to serve them. In fact, each contact with a vendor or a supplier offers a golden opportunity to tap into a pre-established network and potentially expand your own customer service base while providing better service to existing customers. People remember how they are treated and often act in kind. 10. Share resources. By building strong interpersonal relationships with co-workers and peers throughout the industry, you can develop a support system of resources. Sometimes customers will request information, products, or services that are not available through your organization. By being able to refer customers to alternative sources, you will have provided a service, and they are likely to remember that you helped them indirectly. 11. Work with, not against, your customers. Customers are in the enviable position of being in control. At no time in recent history has the cliché “It’s a buyers market” been more true, and many consumers know it. To capitalize on this situation, many organizations have become very creative and proactive in their efforts to grab and hold customers. One large Colorado-based national supermarket, Albertson’s, developed a series of commercials touting “Albertson’s—it’s your store” and stressing that corporate efforts were focused on customer satisfaction. Your efforts should similarly convey the idea that you are working with customers to better serve them. 12. Provide service follow-up. Providing follow-up is probably one of the most important service components. Service does not end when the service encounter or sale concludes. There are numerous followup opportunities to ensure that customer satisfaction was attained. This can be through a formal customer satisfaction survey or telephone callback system or through an informal process of sending thank-you cards, birthday cards, special sale mailings, and similar initiatives that are inexpensive and take little effort. Think of creative ways to follow up, and then speak to your supervisor about implementing them. These types of efforts reinforce service commitment to customers and let them know that you want to keep them as your customers. 67 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 68 68 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession LO 2-5 Separating Average Companies from Excellent Companies Concept Ask questions to determine the service environment in a company in which you seek employment or are currently employed. Whether you are currently working in an organization or are seeking employment, the following factors can demonstrate an organization’s level of service commitment. They can be also used as a basis for questions you might ask supervisors or interviewers in order to determine what type of service environment exists: • • • • • • • • • • • Executives spend time with the customers. Executives spend time talking to frontline service providers. Customer feedback is regularly asked for and acted upon. Innovation and creativity are encouraged and rewarded. Benchmarking (identifying successful practices of others) is done with similar organizations. Technology is widespread, frequently updated, and used effectively. Training is provided to keep employees current on industry trends, organizational issues, skills, and technology. Open communication exists between frontline employees and all levels of management. Employees are provided with guidelines and empowered (in certain instances, authorized to act without management intervention) to do whatever is necessary to satisfy the customer. Partnerships with customers and suppliers are common. The status quo is not acceptable. LO 2-6 What Customers Want Concept Customers expect effective, efﬁcient service and value for their money. Customers also expect certain common things that service providers can furnish. what customers want Things that customers typically desire but do not necessarily need. Most customers are like you. And what customers want is value for their money and/or effective, efficient service. They also expect certain intangible things during a service encounter. Here are seven common things that customers want and expect if they are to keep doing business with you and your organization: 1. Personal recognition. This can be demonstrated in a number of ways (sending thank-you cards or notes or birthday cards, returning calls in a timely fashion, or taking the time to look up information that might be helpful even if the customer did not ask for it). A simple way to show recognition to a customer who enters your work area, even if you cannot immediately stop what you are doing to serve him or her, is to smile and acknowledge the person’s presence. If possible, Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 69 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Contributing to the Service Culture you might also offer the customer the option of waiting, having a seat, and so on. Courtesy. Basic courtesy involves pleasantries such as “please” and “thank you,” as there is no place or excuse for rude behavior in a customer service environment. Even though customers may not always be right, you must treat them with respect. If a situation becomes too intense and you find yourself “losing it,” call upon someone else to serve that customer. This is especially important in stressful environments where customers are truly suffering and not likely to be in the mood for poor attitudes or delays (e.g., hospital waiting rooms and doctors’ or dentists’ offices). Timely service. Most people don’t mind waiting briefly for service if there is a legitimate reason (as when you are waiting on another customer or obviously serving another customer on the phone), but they do not like to spend what they believe is undue amounts of time waiting to be served. Your challenge as a customer service professional is to provide prompt yet effective service. It is important to remember that customers value their time as much as you and your managers/bosses do. Work diligently to stay on schedule and at least explain when delays do occur so that the customer understands the reason for the wait (e.g., in a doctor’s office when scheduled appointments are running behind because of a medical emergency or the doctor was delayed while in surgery). If extensive delays are likely to occur, offer the customer an option of possibly rescheduling. Customers probably will not want to, but the gesture of allowing them some decision in the situation is psychologically soothing in many cases. Professionalism. Customers expect and should receive knowledgeable answers to their questions, service that satisfies their needs and lessens effort on their part, and service personnel who take pride in their work. You can demonstrate these characteristics by exemplifying the ethics talked about earlier, and the communication behaviors outlined in later chapters of this book. Enthusiastic service. Customers come to your organization for one purpose—to satisfy a need. This need may be nothing more than to “look around.” Even so, they should find a dedicated team of service professionals standing by to assist them in whatever way possible. By delivering service with a smile, offering additional services and information, and taking the time to give extra effort in every service encounter, you can help guarantee a positive service experience for your customer. Empathy. Customers also want to be understood. Your job as a service provider is to make every effort to be understanding, and to provide appropriate service. To succeed, you must be able to put yourself in the customer’s position or look at the need from the customer’s perspective as much as possible. This is especially true when customers do not speak English well or have some type of disability that reduces their communication effectiveness. When a customer has a complaint or believes that he or she did not receive appropriate service, it is your job to calm or appease in a nonthreatening, helpful manner and show understanding. 69 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 70 WORK IT OUT 2.5 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Your Customer Expectations NOW THAT YOU KNOW WHAT GOES INTO MAKING A CUSTOMER ENVIRONMENT “CUSTOMER-FRIENDLY,” THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS WHEN YOU PATRONIZE A COMPANY. Share your answers with others in the class. Drawing on your own experiences, list four or ﬁve expectations that you feel are typical of most customers. feel, felt, found technique A process for expressing empathy and concern for someone and for helping that person understand that you can relate to the situation. A common strategy for showing empathy is the feel, felt, found technique. When using it, a service provider is demonstrating a compassionate understanding of the customer’s issue or situation. For example, a customer is upset because the product desired is not in stock. A service provider might respond by saying: “Mr. Philips, I know how you feel. I’ve felt the same way when I had my heart set on a specific item. Many customers have actually found that the alternative product I described to you has the same features and performs several other functions as well.” 7. Patience. Customers should not have to deal with your frustrations or pressures. Your efficiency and effectiveness should seem effortless. If you are angry because of a policy, procedure, management, or the customer, you must strive to mask that feeling. This may be difficult to do when you believe that the customer is being unfair or unrealistic. By suppressing your desire to speak out or react emotionally, you can remain in control, serve the customer professionally, and end the contact sooner. Some tips on managing difficult customers and your own stress levels will be addressed in Chapters 7 and 10. There a chapter on stress management available at www.mhhe.com/customerservice. Small Business Perspective No matter what size organization you work for, having great leaders who are visionary and think from a customer perspective will make the organization successful. In small business, such leadership is crucial for success because such organizations do not typically have “deep pockets” with large amounts of expendable resources available. In such companies, every dollar counts. For that reason, it is very important that everyone from the owner or CEO down to frontline employees embrace the concepts that you read about in this chapter. All must go above and beyond what their job description requires and take personal ownership for the company every day. Employees and management must pull together to share knowledge and skills and create a customer-centric atmosphere. Typically, employees in successful small companies tend to bond as “family” and really get to know one another. As a result, they are more likely to pitch in when needed without an expectation of reward. This 70 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 71 11/16/10 11:33 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture does not mean that if you work for a small company you should not expect to get paid for what you do. It simply means that by getting to know the strengths and areas for improvement of other employees and management, you can help fill gaps if you possess knowledge and skills that they do not have. In the long-run, such behavior normally results in a higher payout for the organization because customers hear about you and are attracted to do business with the firm. When this occurs, revenue comes in that can fund salary increases, new equipment, and employee functions (e.g., family picnics and celebrations for special occasions or holidays). In small organizations, effective communication and feedback are powerful and needed. Unlike many large organizations where you might be able to avoid someone and get assistance and information needed to do your job elsewhere, in a small organization, resources are limited and everyone has to do his or her part and work cohesively together. If a disagreement or misunderstanding occurs, you must work together to resolve and get past it, just as you should with your own family members. Successful small business employees typically possess many of the following attributes: Self-initiative or ability to recognize what needs to be done. By identifying potential issues that need to be addressed and accomplishing them without a lot of direction or guidance from others, service providers in small companies aid the overall effectiveness of the organization and address customer expectations. Strong powers of persuasion. There may be no one else around when a customer calls or comes by your office in a small company. For that reason, you must be able to share an opinion, idea or information in a convincing manner so that your customers believe and trust what you are saying. Strong oral, nonverbal, and written skills will often make the difference in whether you succeed when dealing with customers. Flexibility. Unlike larger organizations where there may be written policies and procedures and a Human Resources department to consult for various issues, small business employees often have to be able to “think on their feet” and come up with appropriate solutions when dealing with customers. This comes from having sound knowledge and skills related to products and service procedure. Creativity. There will be many times when working for a small business where you will have to come up with a solution to a customer question or issue on the spur of the moment. To do this, you must be able to use the products, services, and tools offered by the organization to best satisfy the needs or wants of your customers. Problem-solving ability. Since you will be working with limited resources in many instances, you must be able to gather data and information about a customer issue (see Chapter 3 for ideas on effective questioning), quickly analyze what you learned, and make an appropriate decision. 71 Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 72 72 11/17/10 8:20 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession Before going to work for a small organization, read Chapter 6 and decide if you have the right temperament or behavioral style preference to succeed in such an environment. Impact on Service Based on personal experience and what you just read, answer the following questions: 1. What characteristics or traits do you feel that many employees in small companies lack that causes service problems? Explain. 2. From a service perspective, do you think it is better to work for a small company or large one? Why? 3. To what degree do you feel service providers in small companies differ from their large organization counterparts? Explain. Summary Professional customer service helps highlight and define service culture. Everything customers experience from the time they contact an organization in person, on the phone, or through other means, affects their perception of the organization and its employees. To positively influence their opinion, you must constantly be alert for opportunities to provide excellent service. Taking the time to provide a little extra effort can often mean the difference between total customer satisfaction and service breakdown. Your role in helping create a positive service culture is to continually think like your customers and try to decide how you should best proceed in any situation in which you come into contact with them. Successful service providers have a plan and have strategies in mind for dealing with various issues. Through professional, proactive planning, you can demonstrate that you have your customer’s best interest at heart while representing your organization ethically and in a manner that projects a positive attitude. Review Questions 1. What are some of the key elements that make up a service culture? 6. What are some indicators that a company has customer-friendly systems in place? 2. How does management’s service philosophy affect the culture of an organization? 7. What are some of the tools used by organizations to measure their service culture? 3. How does RUMBA help clearly define employee roles and expectations? Why is each component important? 8. What are some strategies for helping promote a positive customer culture? 4. How can policies and procedures affect the customer’s impression of customer service? 5. What questions should you ask yourself about your role as a service provider? 9. What separates average organizations from excellent ones? 10. What are some typical things that customers want? Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 73 11/17/10 8:20 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 Contributing to the Service Culture 73 Search It Out Customer Service and Organizational Culture 1. Log on to the Internet and research the mission statements of the following five organizations: (1) U.S. Department of Education, (2) USAA Educational Foundation, (3) Enterprise Rent-a-Car, (4) Starbucks Coffee, and (5) Florida Hospital. You can locate information by going to available search engines (Yahoo.com, Bing.com, Google. com, AltaVista.com, Excite.com, or Ask.com) and typing in the name of the organization, then searching its site for “mission statement.” As you view each organizational mission statement, answer the following questions: Are there shared values and beliefs evident in the different mission state ments? If so, what are they? As a customer/client, do you feel that the organization values you? Why or why not? Does the focus of each mission statement seem to differ between types of organizations (e.g., government, nonprofit, not-for-profit, and for profit)? Why or why not? If you were writing each mission statement, what would you add or delete? Be prepared to share your findings at the next scheduled meeting. 2. Conduct an Internet search of models that can be used to determine the cost of obtaining or retaining customers. See if you can find one specific to your industry or desired profession. Once you locate one that you feel is sound, calculate the cost of obtaining one new customer and share your research with classmates and your instructor. Collaborative Learning Activity Service Culture Along with assigned group members, go on a field trip to several local organizations before your next class meeting. Use Figure 2.3, Elements of a Service Culture, as a guideline to determine the level and quality of the service culture of each organization visited. Take notes and be prepared to share your observations with other groups when you return to class. As part of your note taking, answer the following questions about each organization: 1. Did you notice any overt signs that indicated the organizations’ cultural philosophy (mission or philosophy statements on walls)? If yes, what were they? 2. In what way was service delivered and how did the delivery indicate the organization’s philosophy related to customer service? 3. What did the organization’s products and services say about its approach to service (quality and quantity, availability, and service support)? 4. What evidence did you see of management support for the service initiatives being used by employees? 5. What indicators of motivators and rewards did you notice (employee of the month or year plaques, parking space for employee of the month, visible indicators of rewards on employees’ clothes or uniforms, for example, items such as pins or buttons)? 6. Were there any indications that training of employees is occurring (employees have a consistent greeting or closing “Thanks for shopping at_____”)? Face to Face You and Your New Job in Customer Service In the following case study, you are a new employee and are excited and happy to begin your position in customer service with United Booksellers. Read about the company and your role in customer service, and then answer the questions at the end of the case study. Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 74 11/17/10 8:20 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Part One The Profession 74 Background United Booksellers is the fifth-largest retailer of publications on the West Coast in the United States. It started 15 years ago as a family-owned bookstore in Seattle, Washington, and has grown to over 125 stores in seven states. The organization currently employs 3,000 employees, each of whom receives extensive customer service training before being allowed to interact with customers. Recent issues of Booksellers Journal and Publishers Select magazine have heralded the quality service and friendly atmosphere of the organization. United Booksellers has been praised for the appearance of the facilities, helpfulness and efficiency of employees, wide selection of publications, and intimate coffee shops where patrons can relax and read their purchases over a hot cup of fresh cappuccino. Your Role As a new customer service professional with United Booksellers, you are excited about starting your job, which will require continual customer contact. As a child, you watched your siblings perform customer service functions at the local Burger Mania Restaurant and always thought you’d like to follow their lead. Since you like people, enjoy a challenge, don’t get stressed out easily, and have hopes of moving into management, you anticipate that this job should be just right for you. In this position, you’ll be expected to receive new publications from publishers, log in receipts, stock shelves, assist customers, and occasionally work as backup cashier. Critical Thinking Questions 1. Are there indicators of United Booksellers’ service culture? If so, what are they? 2. If you were an employee, in what ways would you feel that you could contribute to the organizational culture? 3. If you were a customer, what kind of service would you expect to receive at United Booksellers? Why? Planning to Serve To better understand the role of service providers in helping establish and maintain a positive service culture, think about what you read in this chapter. Also, think about factors related to service cultures in organizations with which you are familiar. Make a list of five to ten key culture elements. Beside these elements, create a list of strategies that you can/could take as a service provider to improve them if you worked in such an organization. Share your list with others in the class. Quick Preview Answers 1. T 3. T 5. F 7. F 9. F 11. F 2. T 4. T 6. T 8. T 10. F 12. T Ethical Dilemma Summary Ethical Dilemma 2.1 Possible Answers 1. What ethical issue(s) do you face in this situation? The supervisor is putting employees in the awkward position of either making their performance goal or facing punitive actions and losing poten- tial rewards. In pressuring customers you might even alienate and lose them while generating negative word-of-mouth publicity that will hurt the organization in the future. Moreover, this practice can violate some basic principles of ethical behavior because it can damage trust between Luc97113_ch02_038-075.indd Page 75 11/17/10 8:20 AM user-f469 /Volume/201/MHCE012/Luc97113_disk1of1/0073397113/Luc97113_pagefile Chapter 2 supervisors and employees and, ultimately, between customers and service providers and the organization. This practice also defeats the part of the organizational philosophy that states, “in a lowpressure customer atmosphere.” 2. How might these affect service delivery? The customer is likely to receive less than stellar service because frontline service providers are going to feel pressured to hurry their service delivery. Additionally, service providers will potentially resent the supervisor, policy, and organization for creating a stressful work environment and/or withholding rewards on the basis of circumstances not always created by the employees. In the long run, employees may act out through tardiness, absenteeism, and high turnover. This can lead to stressed-out supervisors and a revolving door problem of rotating employees who require ongoing training, increased costs, and loss of expertise to the organization. 3. What impact might this situation have on your performance? When employees feel that they are in a “no-win” situation or that their supervisor is not listening or being realistic, they often develop poor attitudes and their performance suffers. In a service environment, this often equates to customer complaints and lost business. In any event, if your performance wanes, you will likely receive disciplinary action and could ultimately be terminated or quit out of frustration. 4. How might this situation be addressed? Supervisors should take a realistic look at the mission statement and philosophy of the organization. They should also benchmark against similar industry organizations to see what types of policies and procedures they use with similar service situations. Ultimately, they should work with employees to develop realistic standards for quality service delivery. Employees should bring issues related to poor policies and procedures to their supervisor/team leader for discussion. They should take ownership of the issue rather than simply complaining to others about the stress and working conditions. It is possible that your supervisor is receiving pressure from his or her manager and is also frustrated, but cannot voice that to you or other employees (since this would be unprofessional). Contributing to the Service Culture 75 If you perceive this to be the case, and you have a suggestion box or open-door policy, try presenting suggestions for improvement in a manner that more senior people will hear and can potentially act upon them. Just remain professional in your approach. Ethical Dilemma 2.2 Possible Answers 1. How does such a service atmosphere potentially impact customers? Employees? Today’s customers are typically better educated and informed and have been bombarded with tips for dealing with poor service by articles, television news stories, and consumer advocates. They often know what their rights are, who to contact when those rights are violated and understand that they have many options for products and services if your organization cannot or will not deliver what they want or expect. 2. What message does this approach to service say about the organization? When an organization promotes a message of “complete customer satisfaction,” then fails to deliver on that promise, it sends a message of dishonesty, unethical behavior and lack of concern for customers. It also puts employees in a position of either having to defend the organization or lying to customers. Either option is a losing one for organizations and employees who come into contact with their customers. 3. What are potential outcomes of such practices by the supervisor? They are certain to lose the respect of employees and their customers. Depending on whether they are acting on their own or with the blessing of management, they might be opening themselves up for disciplinary action and termination for violating organizational policy and for demonstrating poor leadership and bad judgment. 4. What can you and other employees do to address the situation? In instances when supervisors are blatantly violating policy and putting you and the organization in a negative situation, you should immediately bring it to the attention of management. Of course, if you know that management condones such behavior, you likely are wasting your time and may only have one viable option— find employment in a reputable organization.
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