Building a strong and sustainable service culture takes time. But leaders often want to know much earlier if their efforts and investments are working. So what is the first thing you can measure to see if your service culture is getting stronger? Higher profits? No. Those show up only after you have provided better service.

This guest blog post is from online customer experience expert Gerry McGovern. The irony of this period of Big Data is that many organizations are becoming even more disconnected from their customers. Technology creates both insights and blindness when it comes to understanding customers. Much of Big Data is about customer behavior: what they bought,

There is a big difference between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Customer satisfaction is an opinion, assessment, snapshot. It’s the answer to the question, looking back in time, “Are you happy with what we have done for you?” Have we met your expectations? Have we fulfilled the conditions of satisfaction? In fact, the traditional definition of customer satisfaction has been “meeting customer expectations”.

But there is an assumption in organization’s pursuit of customer satisfaction that has been proven false. It is not always true that a satisfied customer will also become a loyal customer. Today many organizations can “meet customer expectations”. Satisfying customers has become the norm, a minimum for staying in business. But satisfaction does not mean the customer will be loyal!

So what is customer loyalty, and how do you earn it and keep it for your organization?

How do you turn a passion for “shining service” into measurable, visible, and audible performance standards? How do you translate a vision like “We Make Each Moment Matter” and a purpose like “Helping People Celebrate Life” and turn them into observable, and trainable, commitments?

LUX* Resorts has cracked the code with their newest version of LUX* Shining Personality Standards. Every standard (except the one that specifically cites the Vision and Purpose) is observable – can be clearly seen or heard – and therefore easily taught, coached, managed, maintained, and celebrated.

One of my clients launched a vigorous service improvement program to create greater value for external customers. Hundreds of classes were conducted for thousands of Service Champions around the world. The business objectives were clear: reclaim market share and rebuild a slipping reputation. Bounce back in recovery situations. Focus on external customer experience, not internal political issues. Demonstrate passion for existing customers. Go all-out to win new business.

But something unusual happened as the program rollout expanded. Rather than focusing on these identified external business targets, earning high internal course evaluations became the course leaders’ primary focus. Being rated highly as a very engaging course leader was viewed as great success. Scoring 9 out of 10 for leading a wonderful class became a cause for celebration. That’s a great score, but a very different bull’s-eye.

Customer success and better business results are why the program was originally conceived. High course leader scores are not the same as valuable business impact. Eventually this lack of alignment
became painfully apparent—the focus had drifted away from the early goals, and the entire program needed to refocus. Don’t let this drifting happen to you.

Learn how to increase the impact of your investment…

Service Measures and Metrics are a valuable building block for service improvement. But to build a service culture, the methodology of these metrics must be uplifting for those you query and for the members of your team.

Clarify What You Are Measuring and Why

Just because you can measure many things doesn’t mean that it makes good sense to track them all. What do you really want to know, and what action will you take with what you learn? Review this list and then decide which insights will be most helpful to improve your service now.

How do you move beyond satisfaction? How do you stop looking backward to evaluate performance, and instead look forward to create new possibilities and potential? By changing your mind-set-and transforming your survey-to a value-add proposition. Nokia Siemens Networks brought people from different departments together with a new goal-to create conversations and cultivate insights that would improve the relationships with their clients moving forward.

“Instead of asking clients how they rate our service, we asked them to explain their challenges, their goals, and the ways in which we could help them,” says Jeffrey Becksted, the company’s Head of Customer Experience and Service Excellence. “We asked them where Nokia Siemens Networks fits into their future-not how we’ve served them in the past.”

Many organizations use waiting time and processing speed as key measures of service quality. This is fine – as long as they don’t become the only metrics that matter. An obsession with such ‘numbers’ can make you lose sight of what is really important: how your customers experience what you are doing for them rather than how efficient your systems and processes are.

Few leaders ‘meet employees where they are’ and effectively translate scores and targets into the ideas and actions employees care about.

To help your employees understand and care about quantitative measures, consider and then take these five steps:

Step One: Identify and quantify the changes you want to achieve
Step Two: Design and deliver effective communications
Step Three: Measure intent first, not outcomes
Step Four: Design effective systems and processes for support
Step Five: Realize your managers are more important than you

Businesses and communities for years have developed countless theories and ‘best practices’ to either Get Employees Who Care (Service Recruitment – Building Block #3) or to Get Employees To Care (Rewards and Recognition – Building Block #5)

Increasingly, compensations and appraisals are now being tied to % improvements in service indexes.

Here’s the problem:

Employees don’t live in the world of index improvements. Many may not even understand it.