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Why is Creating a Service Culture so Difficult?

I have been writing and speaking on customer service longer than anyone in the world and I still cannot figure out why so few organizations focus on creating a service culture. I think most firms think they are awesome without realizing that most customers in the world have trouble finding a service leader.

It takes hard work and commitment to drive a service culture. The CEO has to be the cheerleader and driver. It doesn’t take a lot of money but it does take a lot of work and effort.  Actually it will end up being a fraction of the cost of your marketing. It means you have to value ALL employees and ALL customers. Ask yourself these questions…Do your employees really feel valued, loved and appreciated? Is it easy for your customers to do business with your organization? Do you trust the customer? Is everyone empowered? This is really hard work and the day you turn your head to focus on a different initiative it will start to disappear. 

Worldwide conferenceWe just completed our Worldwide Customer Service Conference with role models from across the world. The participants from 21 countries had a huge opportunity to learn from the very best.  These role models all talked about focus and commitment.   They all spoke about service culture as a community of leaders at all levels who embrace a service mindset and build lasting relationships with customers and employees.

Dave Graebel, the Founder of Graebel Relocation the largest privately held household goods moving company in the world talked about integrity and soul. Dave was born in 1929 and started as a helper at a moving company making $.25 an hour. Dave said, “Truth wins. Give your company a soul.” They focus on Commitments Made. Commitments Kept. 

Dr. Pete Johnson, a Strategic Execution Specialist said, “The most organized, most focused, most prepared, will always win.” 

William Erio, Director General, PPF Pensions Fund in Tanzania is now the 2nd largest pension fund company in Tanzania and their goal is to be number one. They have been a user of SQI’s service culture plan and have grown from 104,684 members in 2008 to 247,481 members at the end of 2013. They reduced claims payment time from 40 days in 2008 to 10 days in 2014.

Tom Raffio, President and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, has used a Service Guarantee starting in 1990. He has 215 employees and has a 60-70% market share in the 3 US States they are allowed to be in. This is a dental insurance company. Name one other insurance company in the world that has this market share. I have been featuring Tom Raffio in every edition of Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service. (We just released the 10th edition)  We have had the results of Delta Dental on our web site for years.  If you live in one of these 3 states sign up with Northeast Delta Dental to experience true “service” heaven.

Oscar M Orozco, Sr. Director Secretario of Banco Promerica in El Salvador and Central America listens to me and uses many of the ideas I share. They have 100 branches, 9,089 employees and 705,000 credit cards. A live person answers the phone in 1-2 rings 24/7. Oscar has leveraged SQI programs better than almost anyone I know.    Oscar received our 2014 Award For Dedication and Devotion to the Principles and Ideals of Customer Service.

 Maria, John, Oscar
Maria del Carmen Argueta de Reyes,
Manager of the Human Resources Department,
John Tschohl and Oscar M. Orozco, Sr.

Eric Simon, Vice President& General Manager, Urban Ski Areas, Vail Resorts shared the guest experience at Vail Resorts. Eric said. “We either serve people well or we go out of business.” Their focus is trying to get customers for life. The CEO is driving the customer experience. With service recovery and their checkbook for free stuff the person who writes the most checks gets the most recognition.”

Josiah Blair, Assistant to the Chairman of the Board, Technodom (the largest electronics retailer in Kazakhstan) shared their results of using the SQI Service Culture plan.  They now have 65 stores. They are committed to providing the best customer service in the country. Technodom is the largest retailer in Kazakhstan. They are similar to Best Buy. They have 4,208 employees with an average age of 28 years. Eduard Kim the founder says, “We are focused on improving the quality of life of customers through first-class service. It is doing everything with love.”     Technodom received our 2014 SQI Worldwide Client of the Year award.

 John and Josiah
John Tschohl and Josiah Blair of Technodom

Allen Chen, President of Shanghai Foreign Service Training Center, Shanghai Foreign Service.  They mainly provide professional one-stop services such as human resources services, business agency and HR management consulting for Chinese employees.  They have more than 20 years experience in training and educating employees for the Chinese marketplace.  They insist on providing excellent service.  

Jessica Soule, Customer Quality Sr. Manager Nissan Mexicana has 14,000 employees in Mexico and 230 dealers. They have been very effective at using customer service to drive sales. They are using the 3 year service culture plan. Now they are #1 in customer satisfaction.  Nissan Mexicana S.A. de C.V received our 2014 award For Exemplary Attitude, Efforts, and Dedication. 

John, Jessica, Oscar, Carmen
John Tschohl, Jessica Soule, Oscar Gomez and Carmen Velasco

Esayas WoldeMariam HAILU, Managing Director, Ethiopian International Services shared with us their vision thru 2025. Ethiopian Airlines made more profit last year than all the other airlines combined in Africa. Most airlines in the world are not committed to great service. Ethiopian Airlines wants to be the friendliest airline in Africa.   ..  Ethiopian Airlines received our 2014 Creating a Global Service Culture award. 

John and Esayas
John Tschohl and Esayas WoldeMariam

We are all in the service business. The most successful firms understand this.  My research shows that firms who master the service strategy own and dominate the market they are in.   A firm can increase its value by over 25% if they can create a brand built around the customer experience. For many firms we are talking millions of dollars in increased value and for some…hundreds of millions.

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