Ever since I attended The Service Leadership Workshop with Ron Kaufman in May, I’ve been getting angrier and angrier.
The problem wasn’t that the workshop was disappointing. I think it was one of the best workshops I have been to, and I go to many of them. I’m very grateful to the Badir Program for inviting my partners, some AccMakk participants, and I to this excellent workshop, and to King Abdullah Economic City for hosting the event.
And the problem wasn’t that Ron was unqualified to discuss the topic. Ron has earned an international reputation as a consultant, columnist, and public speaker. He is the author of the best-selling Uplifting Service and the founder of UP! Your Service, a training company specializing in customer service. He had a high level of energy and really involved the audience in the workshop.
No, what has made me angry is that, after Ron showed me the different levels of customer service, I began noticing that most of the services in my area are at the basic or even criminal level in terms of customer care! This is true for most businesses I have visited in the Makkah and Jeddah areas.
But let’s start from the beginning. In this first installment of my series on Ron’s service excellence principles, I will introduce how Ron Kaufman defines service, value, and service professions, along with why this information is especially important to start-up businesses.
What is service?
Early on in the presentation, Ron asked the audience “What is service?” He asked each participant to discuss this with a partner sitting nearby.
After letting everyone talk about different definitions, Ron said “we can’t have everybody interpreting service a different way.” If everyone sees service in their own way, a company’s staff will be confused and won’t know how to act.
The widely-applicable definition of service Ron proposed is that “Service is taking action to create value for someone else.”
What is value?
“Creating value” is at the core of Ron’s definition of service.
Value-creating activities can include:
• Solving a problem
• Answering a question
• Taking an order
• Installing something
• Activating a feature
• Training someone
• Upgrading something
According to Ron, anything that is wanted, needed, or appreciated by another person can be considered value.
Who is a service worker?
Is it only the duty of customer-facing employees to provide value? What about the rest of us?
“All of us are in service positions,” said Ron. Even professionals who insist that they are not in a service profession are getting paid to provide value to someone else.
Now, how many employees and professionals here in Saudi really go to work each day to take action that creates value for someone else? When you go to the bank, talk to your phone company, fly on a Saudi-based airline, or visit your local municipal office, do you feel as if the person you are working with is really there to serve you?
The start-up advantage…
As a start-up owner, you have a huge service advantage over the slow-moving bureaucracies mentioned above. They have decades of bad habits, cynical managers, and a reputation for poor service to overcome. But your start-up can adopt a company-wide definition of service and begin focusing on providing value to customers today. This is an area in which your new company can definitely beat entrenched competitors.
“I believe service is the ultimate competitive and sustainable advantage,” said Ron Kaufman on his website, and I think many investors agree.
Next week, I will introduce you to Ron’s 6 level of service, and rate some of the services in the Jeddah area and Makkah area using his guidelines, so please bookmark OsamaNatto.com and check back on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, if you have had any wonderful service experiences you would like to share, or any horror stories of receiving terrible customer care, please share them in the comments section below.