All about service
There is a difference between service excellence and having a service culture. For Ron Kaufman, author of “Uplifting Service” and several other books that topic, it all starts with agreeing on a definition of the term “service.”
“Everyone in business lives and works in a world of service – you serve someone and someone serves you,” Kaufman said. “Credit unions serve their members, and they have partners that supply them with technology.”
Service, Kaufman said, can be defined as: “Taking action to create value for someone else.” This definition, he insisted, applies to every industry and every business all over the world.
When it comes to service excellence versus having a service culture, he noted a company might have a “service rock star” who really gets into giving great service. However, if the company’s service culture does not reward that person, he or she will give up and leave, or give up and stay.
There are six levels of service, Kaufman told the audience. At the bottom is what he calls “criminal,” or not even “basic,” the bare minimum second level. The third level is “expected,” which is perceived by most people as average. The fourth level is “desired” – service done the way people like it. Even better is level five, “surprising,” when people get more than what they expected. “Unbelievable!” is the top level.
“Excellence” is not one of the six words, Kaufman noted, leading to the question, where does it belong on the six levels? He said part of the answer is understanding the six levels of service are not steps, they are an escalator that is always going down.
“If you do something excellent for your member, the first time it will be unbelievable, the second time it will be a surprise, then it will be desired, then expected, then basic, and if you don’t do it your service will be criminal,” he said. “Therefore, ‘service excellence’ is a moving target.”
Service excellence requires taking the next step up to create more value for members. Kaufman said a service culture exists when everyone in the organization follows this principle every day.