Service oriented culture. The very mention of the phrase can cause a variety of reactions in people ranging from the ambiguity of “I think I know what Service is…” to the eye-rolling “Oh, great – another buzzword that we are going to have to suffer through until the next one” mindset. Rarely does it evoke a positive response with definitive steps that can be taken to create one. I am not going to provide these steps either; however, I am going to provide some insight based on my day to day relationships with my co-workers, my customers and the layers of management I deal with amongst both.
I work in healthcare, in IT specifically, so while aspects of the industry that I choose to be employed in (ie: patient care) should be synonymous with service, it is not a given that view is taken or expected amongst the IT ranks. Even searches for a definition of a service oriented culture yield few results, most of which focus on sales – or, if done through research providers such as Gartner, focus on SOA, ERP or CRM systems. There are a lot of references from company brochures and sales pitches about having tools, systems, processes or consultants provide guidance for improving your customer service(s). If your experiences have been like mine over the years, you will find those providing these references are well-intentioned (and/or financially motivated), but generally incapable of providing a how-to that changes your culture. This roadmap we often expect, and need, generally falls outside of their capability, and on rare occasions you will even get the more frank representatives to acknowledge that it is not part of their goal to change your culture. They just want your business – the trickiest part is still up to you. And the core components of that trickiest part are often what IT needs the most help with – the soft skills, the attitude, the behavioral aspects and the business acumen to build customer relationships that benefit both the business (which is why we are here to begin with) and future customer service relationships. Here are some of the integral components I am referring to that can’t be provided by technology:
It’s thinking about how you would like to be treated:
Everyone knows when they have had a good customer service experience in their private lives. The challenge comes in remembering that when it is your turn to provide the service – put the proverbial shoe on the other foot and see how well both you and the customer react to the service you are providing.
It’s thinking about the business goals or “It’s the business, stupid.”: