Friday, October 8, 2010

Service matters

Nobody would object that service is important. The Age of  Industrialization is over: human interactions play the most important role in business. Someone said that business is a conversation and I have no reasons to doubt that thought. So why is the level of service we are getting in general is so low? Really, you might get good service now and then, but if you go back to your grumbles to your friends and family over the past couple of weeks, I am sure many of those were about poor service.

I can quote a personal example. Last week I went to the gym to find it closed because of the country-wide strike (yes, there are drawbacks of living in Spain). Someone gracefully graffiti'ed "VIVA LA GRASA" ("LONG LIVE THE FAT") at the main entrance to the gym in thick black paint and, by the way, it is still there - but the gym was closed. I started wondering why was it so difficult for the management, the front desk reception, or my trainers just to drop a word of it the day before? After all, I pay money to go there, and it's a private gym, so what's their story?

There are even worse stories about internal service. When people work for the same company and they start feeling that something actually depends on their decisions, they begin to forget that they are there to provide service. Finance, HR, IT, Communications, Contracts - I started thinking how often I heard "Come tomorrow", "I'm too busy now", "Do you need more than others?" from the representatives of those functions and got horrified. We have learnt to take care of the external service encounter and even somehow track those "moments of truth", but when it comes to cleaning our own house, the dirt gets swept under the carpet.

What most managers forget is the mirror concept: the way you handle issues inside the organization get projected or "mirrored" outside, and the customers can palpably feel the attitudes of the staff. In the past 10 year all of a sudden all HR Managers have become "Strategic HR Managers" because without the word "strategic" it's less fun, but the essence has not changed much: internal service is still suffering. Seems like the issue is in the lack of accountability and recognition once again. Perception plays a great role too: as long as the organization perceives the functions as "service" and "less important", people working there will behave accordingly. Recognizing the value those functions are bringing and making that appreciation visible will change the game. Easier said than done, but the industry has some examples to boast of. Nokia has been great with structuring their business/function relations, as well as some other big players, mostly those that depend greatly on their external customer interaction, because... what goes around, comes around...

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails