Chapter 3 of the book Leading IT Transformation is entitled, “Building a Client-Focused IT Culture.” Although it is written specifically for those in the information technology field, I believe the lessons can be universally applied to any group trying to improve service to its stakeholders.
The authors discuss two “service sins” that occur when we play the role of either “rule master” or “promiser.” When an internal customer asks the rule master to do something slightly outside of guidelines, the rule master says things like, “That’s not our standard… That’s not part of the project plan…We don’t do it that way.” On the flip side the promiser says, “We can to that. We can do that too. Is there anything else you want us to do?”
The correct approach for the Rule Master is to first discover the root cause or need (why the person is making the request), and then try to offer assistance. It may be time to break a rule, or it may be time to re-educate on the reasons for the rule.
As for the Promiser, instead of agreeing to everything and inevitably incurring the wrath of customers when promises are not delivered, it is again important to seek to understand the reason for the request, and then develop some appropriate responses – “I know you want this new change put in, and I’m now aware of its important to the business. We really need to examine it closely to see what it will take to include it. We may need to pull some other functionality to make it work. Can we get back to you at the end of the week?”
To create a client-focused culture, the authors recommend creating a service strategy. They also offer three skills required to evolve to a service oriented culture
- A “We” Mindset – It’s not about you, it’s about the team. Further, it’s about the company.
- Learning to Love Complaints – Complaints are feedback. Feedback is good. Feedback gives us the opportunity to improve.
- Make Every Interaction Count – This is the Moments of Truth concept. Each interaction with a client is a moment of truth that can sweeten or sour a group’s reputation.
Joe Kerr: We need to get back to work, so we can fix our mistakes. We obviously already love them, because we get so many! How’s that for the “We mindset?
Wanda B. Goode: Makes sense. We don’t want to be perceived as rigid and inflexible as if we are hiding behind rules. I’ve always been a fan of exception processing as well. In addition, we can’t be everything to everyone. We need to focus on the most important things or we won’t be able to get those most important things done.
Here’s a related customer service post – The Seven Deadly Sins of Customer Service