Service Sells. It is as simple as that.

A 2009 Gallup study found that organizations with engagement scores (top quartile) had 18% higher productivity and 16% higher profits. And there has been a lot of data since then that supports all of those conclusions.

While companies talk about engaging their customers and employees, many have taken cost-cutting measures or “job enhancement” initiatives that reduce employee morale, creating a demand for more work in less time. The number of “actively disengaged” workers has risen to as much as 24% in companies where layoffs have occurred. (Watson Wyatt’s Employee Engagement Index)

Every production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm. 
— Benjamin Disraeli —

Improving existing service quality demands a focus on meeting and even exceeding customer expectations. But it is nearly a universal truth that, “It’s hard to care for customers if you don’t feel the company cares for you.” A few employees will always go above the norm, but that is the exception.

One would logically assume that we know this. But there are issues of risk taking and perceived reward that come into play.

51% of executive respondents in a global survey occasionally or frequently bent organization rules to be more productive and 32% said they did so to make a quick decision, close a sale or retain a customer. (from Training magazine)

But recognize the flip side of these statistics. You wonder about the results from those who chose not to be responsive to customers or make decisions quickly!

It is important to create a strong and obviously committed management team along with a culture of engagement and involvement to recruit players for service quality improvement. Most people would rather just process and handle transactions than take the risk of making decisions that might result in their exceeding customer expectations.

When the economy improves, many studies indicate that a large percentage of current employees plan to leave – the grass does appear to be greener elsewhere for them. At this same time, companies may start to do things to retain existing customers as well as attract new ones. Expect workplace turmoil, as companies begin to expect new employees who have been conditioned by the old culture to keep their heads down.

Trust is the residue of fulfilled promises.

What to do (simple stuff, really):

  • Build trust and commitment – lots of ways to address this.
  • Clarify the missions and visions in real and honest frameworks, as these things affect employees.
  • Engage or re-engage existing employees and retain new-hire- enthusiasm for the job.
  • Create some sense of individual opportunity, but rely on intrinsic motivators as much as extrinsic ones.
  • Provide for training and for personal growth. Use job-enrichment techniques to give people a sense of meaningful work.
  • Communicate and encourage teamwork and collaboration. Build inter-organizational commitment to shared goals and objectives.
  • Create ownership involvement.

The tools for organizational improvement most likely already exist within the organization – it is not about inventing some new approach or doing some things that other people may have found successful.

The knowledge of what needs to be done can be found internally. People DO have shared, positive experiences and many managers have been and could be more engaging and involving. Allow the managers the freedom to involve and engage their people and to feel less exposure and risk for trying to make needed improvements. 

We often have these “sheep” going in the wrong direction and sounding like, “Naaaaa. Baaaaaa” in the workplace. It has been my experience that the ideas already exist but not everyone is listening or working together. If people only had the chance to share them and trust others to act appropriately, they might realign themselves to shared common goals and objectives.

Most organizations have a tremendous built-in base of knowledge. Get the people working with you. Focus on aligning people to the visions and goals and clarifying expectations.

For a bit more on managing expectations of customers, you might find this of interest – click on the image to see that blog:

The Service Maturity Model of Dr Scott Simmerman

And, lastly, remember that Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car, so a feeling of ownership is critical.

You can see more on these thoughts about service quality improvement here.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

© Performance Management Company, 1993 – 2015