Magazine Article | February 25, 2013

Is Service Culture Being Embraced Across The Enterprise?

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By John Carroll CEO, The Service Council,,

John Carroll of The Service Council talks one-on-one with service executives about the role service culture plays in their organizations.

Service culture remains a prevalent challenge. Pressure has grown remarkably to elevate the importance of service as a strategic profit lever. This elevation has particularly been seen in asset-centric industries where product commoditization is pervasive. Incredibly, even in the current state of the market, we hear of countless organizations who have yet to welcome the service executive to the executive management roundtable, having never truly embraced an organizational-wide service culture.

How can we continue missing the important input, experience, and trials of these seasoned and reputable voices and their organizations? The service executive’s contribution is knowledge based on experience. The “I’ve seen this before” phenomenon has implications far greater than simply customer support and service.

In the “Role Of Culture In Driving Service Revenues” benchmark survey we conducted in 2012, we asked service executives how important a strong service culture is with respect to their organization’s ability to attain its annual service revenue goals. Of the more than 500 service executives who responded to the survey, over 90% indicated that service culture is important. Yet, 51% indicated service was being managed as a cost center. Given that the majority of respondents were service management executives, important questions arose. Is what is being preached by the service executive management ultimately reaching the field operation? Is what is being preached by line of business service affecting other lines of business (crossing the interdepartmental barriers that still exist)?

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Cary Chapman, national service manager of Mettler- Toledo, Safeline and advisory board member of The Service Council. During his time at Mettler-Toledo, Safeline, Cary has helped stabilize a multi-year turnover issue. In his current role, Cary has been instrumental in eliminating service employee turnover while helping to achieve 15% annual growth over the last three years.

Why Field Technician Input Is Critical
Cary believes that organizations should place a strong emphasis on growing and fostering their field operations by seeking advice from field technicians on management decisions, mentally walking a mile in their shoes and getting out from behind the desk and riding with them. Cary makes the point, however, that service managers should really be intent on listening to their field operations teams and acting upon the information they receive. Most of all, he is a proponent of recognizing, rewarding, and simply thanking them for their work. Cary said, “Our technology, systems, devices, and tools are critically important to our dayto- day business. However, the assets (our employees) standing in front of our customers are the catalyst to everything that will happen in the service experience.”

I also recently spoke with one of our newest board members, Wayne Peacock, EVP of member experience at USAA, a leaser in the mutual insurance market. USAA has received many customer satisfaction awards and recognitions, having established an organizational-wide smarter services culture with a clear mission of its employees working for a “cause greater than themselves.” Wayne indicated this strong connection and synergy with USAA’s employees has directly impacted customer experience and as a result allowed USAA to achieve superior membership and financial performance.

Wayne believes that, “When your mission matters and resonates, you have engaged, passionate employees showing up every day to make a difference. Our employees take care of our members because they are excited about our mission, in tune with our core values, and committed to member service.”

Benchmarking and obtaining feedback directly from your customers and market are often referred to as the most critical lenses with which to look at the efficacy of your service operation. As Bill Gates suggested, “Your customers are your greatest source of learning.” And we certainly concur. However, field operations and customer support, in many industries at the forefront of customer interaction and perhaps the height of vulnerability within the customer journey, may be the second most important.