Add Some Sparkle to Your Service

Drive Innovative Service

 

Providing incredible service.

You want to provide service that sparkles, service that stands out, service that inspires.

That’s core to Chip R. Bell’s mission. He helps organizations deliver not only “core service” but a service that is value-unique.

I recently spoke with him about his latest book, Kaleidoscope:  Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.

 

“Life is full of common enchantment waiting for our alchemist eyes to notice.” -Jacob Norby

 

Mirror Core Values

Why a kaleidoscope?

We think of a kaleidoscope as a creator of colorful images—like great service.  But, the images are created by the way jewels are mirrored.  Innovative service that is profoundly remarkable has character—core values reflected or mirrored in its delivery.  The images produced may change, but the jewels never change.  We do not open up a kaleidoscope and put in more gems or jewels. 

 

“Try to be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.” -Maya Angelou

 

Give us an example of “innovative service that sparkles”?

It is the diner waitress who places a bouquet of flowers on your table and tells you they were sent to her the day before by her husband for their anniversary, “…and, I just wanted to share them with you.”  It is a service tech in an auto dealership who programs in the radio stations into a customer’s new car from her trade-in and just lets the customer discover it.  It is the flight attendant on a flight who writes you a personal handwritten note thanking you for your loyalty.

 

“Customer loyalty comes from making the experience unique and special.” -Chip Bell

 

Leadership Values to Create Powerful Service

What are some of the leadership values that are essential to creating an authentic, powerful service experience?

First, it is leaders creating a clear, compelling purpose, vision or mission—in terms that both instruct and inspire.  Second, it is leaders who demonstrate (by their actions) that they have complete trust in their employees.  Third, it is leaders who treat employees with the same care and attention they expect those employees to demonstrate to customers.   Finally, it is leaders who constantly look for ways to more effectively resource their front line (support, training, authority, guidance, etc.).

 

What makes a customer loyal?

Loyalty comes from many practices.  It starts with a demonstration of respect and gratitude.  Customers have many options; we should thank them for choosing us. It is about promise keeping—always being worthy of the customer’s trust.  It includes looking for ways to involve customers—people care when they share.  It also involves helping customers get smarter.  And, loyalty can also come from making the experience unique and special.

 

“Loyalty starts with a demonstration of respect and gratitude.” -Chip Bell

 

What are some of the ways the best organizations stand out and sparkle? 

The best organizations decorate as many customers’ experiences as they can.  Making experiences special signals you care.   They care about long term relationships far more than short-term transactions.  They are community-centered and work to be great citizens in the space where they do business.  They promote growth—for associates and customers.  And, they go out of their way to celebrate greatness (and goodness).

 

“Neglect is more dangerous than strife; apathy costlier than error.” -Chip Bell

 

Inspire a Culture of Service

7 Corporate Strategy Myths That Are Limiting Your Potential

7 Corporate Strategy Myths

Dr. Chuck Bamford’s new book, The Strategy Mindset, is a practical guide for creating a corporate strategy. Having read more books on strategy than I can remember, I particularly like this one. As I read the book, there were times I found myself arguing with the author. At other times, I was nodding. Still at other times, I found myself with immediately actionable ideas to improve the process at my own organization. And that’s why I enjoyed the read so much.

I think the most controversial part of his book is likely the myths section, where he takes apart existing myths of corporate strategy.

 

“Strategy is about making decisions that will impact the company in the future.” -Chuck Bamford

 

1. People Are Not A Competitive Advantage

Let’s talk about the myths.

First, you say that people are not a competitive advantage. You argue that almost all employees are interchangeable. Good employees are just “table stakes.” Is it not possible to have employees who, on average, are better than the competition?

It flies in the face of so many beliefs that it is just hard to accept. Employees are VERY important as the way that business delivers to customers. However, the moment that you actually believe that your employees are smarter than your competitors’ is the moment that your competitors will start beating you in the market. You have the same (or relatively the same) collection of amazing employees, capable employees, and poor employees as your competitors. All the HR processes in the world today have not changed that dynamic in companies. The employees that you have working in your company are a combination of luck (the biggest factor), HR practices, networking, and did I mention luck!

Bamford CoverI’m not trying to be divisive here, but most of your customers do not generally care (or if they care at all, it is slight) who takes care of their business needs as long as the needs are taken care of. This does not apply to every employee in a company, just most. At every company I have ever worked with or for, there is a contingent of “franchise” employees. Those are employees who, if they left the company, would impact the success of that company quite substantially. We all know who these folks are, and if executives are smart, they take care of these employees to ensure that they stay with the organization. These “franchise” employees are not just the customer-facing employees; they reside throughout an organization.

 

“Employees are not your competitive advantage.” -Chuck Bamford

 

2. SWOT is NOT Strategy

Second, you are not a fan of the SWOT. What’s wrong with the way most organizations use it?

SWOT is the single biggest impediment to doing real strategy that exists, and it exists because certain big consulting firms continue to use it with their clients, and it makes clients “feel good” without really having to do strategy.

SWOT was an attempt to bring some structure to the topic, and as a conceptual approach, it is still fairly robust. Unfortunately, many authors, academics, and practitioners decided that SWOT was an analysis tool and a means for a company to develop its strategy. SWOT is NOT strategy, and it is not an analysis tool.

Anyone can create a SWOT. It is grounded in your own biases and view of the world. In the end, a SWOT is simply the opinion of the person or group filling it out.

 

“SWOT is the single biggest impediment to doing real strategy.” -Chuck Bamford