Inspiring Management to Care About Service

As I have written before, if you are aware that the age of experience is upon us, you know your organization needs to focus on service excellence or find itself well behind industry leaders.

Perhaps you have built a small band of like-minded individuals and are now ready to grow this band into an orchestra, but you are fearful of the task of convincing the larger group, including organizational leaders, to care about the initiative.

Well, the time has come nevertheless, and you will need to convince people, make no bones about it. We will look at four things.

  1. How doing this is not easy
  2. Inspiring with a vision
  3. Appealing to what they value
  4. Why you should not give up

Let’s get started.

This is not easy

I will begin this with a bold pronouncement, “You will find trying to move your management to care about or invest in a service-focused strategy a battle.” There, I said it. Now we can move on.

But why? Why is this so hard?

Every day leaders and managers deal with all kinds of people pushing their ideas for innovation and improvement, and to each of them they have to say no, and they say no because, if they’ve been getting results with the status quo, there’s no need to rock the boat.

Additionally, because service is usually down the priority list, you will be starting with a disadvantage. You will hear it in their words. Here’s an example of some of the responses you will get upon mentioning a move to prioritizing service:

  • “We have a customer service department, why do we need anything more?”
  • “What do you mean? Our service is excellent.”
  • “Service is a cost; we don’t need more cost.”
  • “What’s wrong with our service? Our scores are good.”
  • “How will this help the bottom line?”

As you see, they will take any suggestion about making service a focus for the company as an unworthy business initiative. To them, business is a rough-and-tumble venture second only to warfare.

Of course, they are missing a few vital points:

  1. The business of business is all about people helping people. That means it is fundamentally about service. Every business exists to help people, there is no other reason. Thus, every other thing a business does should only be in service of that one larger purpose.
  2. Without happy customers, you will not reach your financial goals and cannot have a long-lasting business. There is proof that service-focused companies get better returns over the long haul and that ones who make service a low priority struggle.
  3. Focusing on service does not have to cost more.

Okay, but we still don’t know how to move management to get on board.

Inspire with a vision of potential

You need to first inspire them with a vison of what you see as the organization’s potential. You need to communicate your belief in the value the business brings and how it truly helps people. From there, you need to talk about how the business could make a bigger impact by providing a better service experience.

If they get interested, you can discuss how the business world is finding itself in the midst of an overall cultural shift from an Industrial Age, product-centric, wealth-creation mindset to an Experience Age, service-focused, value-creation mindset, and how this shift is making the delivery of good service more critical than ever. Moreover, for organizations to consistently deliver good service to customers outside the organization, they must deliver it inside the organization as well. Thus, instead of so many other things being the company’s priority, service needs to move into first place.

Appeal to what they value

Next, you must appeal to what they find valuable. This means using the lines they throw at you as springboards for addressing the things they care about. Keep in mind the things they care about may and will most likely be different from manager to manager.

This means learning what their “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) is. Everybody wants to see some benefit in making changes and finding out their WIIFM is a great first step in convincing them that your service passion is worthwhile. Be mindful, WIFFMs are not always personal, sometimes they are about a team, a department, or maybe even the entire company. Regardless, you need to find that big interest and be able to articulate how your proposal will benefit it.

Think about your manager. What does that person care about? Is it their budget, efficiency targets, revenue expectations, or maybe even their own bonus? Get to know what makes people tick and motivates them on a day-to-day basis and begin figuring out ways that service focus can help them achieve success.

Use the right tone

Another thing to think about is your tone. If management thinks all you are doing is whining and complaining, they will turn you off in a second. Hence, do not kick off your conversation with how bad things are. Instead, begin by talking about how much potential the organization has and how you really want to contribute to helping it get there. Have a plan in your back pocket that is simple and low cost, and present a logical, cogent argument. Here are some points to get started…

  • We have so much potential but some of it is not being tapped.
  • The business world is evolving to be more about experiences and service is the linchpin in that. We must move to an aligned service strategy that encourages and supports leaders being of service to managers who are of service to team members.
  • Companies that focus on service do much better financially. The American Customer Satisfaction Index leaders have generated a cumulative return of 1,788%, compared to the S&P 500 return of 429% over a 15-year period. That’s a 1,359-point difference.
  • By making service a priority from management to team members, every team member, not just customer-facing ones, we can see those returns.

Remember to always remain positive and upbeat, and if you begin seeing looks of impatience or disinterest, stress their WIIFM.

Don’t give up

In closing, it is critical that you do not give up. This is an uphill battle, I speak from experience, but quitting means the organization never moves forward, and not moving forward means a slow death.

Face it, people don’t like change, least of all managers, but our world is all about change, especially in this era of rapid innovation. Managers just fear tipping any balance the wrong way. They never like to diverge from what they have seen as tried and true. They typically have a hard time seeing evolution until it is staring them hard in the face.

So, do not be deterred. Keep talking about this. Engage early and often. Use your small band of believers to keep spirits high, continue the conversation, and keep inspiring the organization with how things can be done differently by using service excellence to get results.

==> If you liked this post and would like to know when new posts are published, CLICK HERE to subscribe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s