You may have been hearing the term “Service Excellence” a lot lately, and it may be because of the buzz around the recently published the Shingo Award-winning book The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations, co-written by Karyn Ross and Jeff Liker.
KaiNexus recently invited The Toyota Way to Service Excellence author Karyn Ross to speak to our own Mark Graban, about How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence. Ross is a purpose-driven consultant and Lean coach at karynrossconsulting.com. Focused specifically on services, Karyn has worked with small, medium, and large organizations in sectors as diverse as insurance, financial services, HR, transportation, and retail. Using her unique Practical Creativity (TM) approach, Karyn teaches creativity techniques in combination with Toyota Way / Lean practices to help businesses retain current customers and attract new ones.
For webinar listeners not in a service-based organization, Service Excellence is something Karyn believes we should all be concerned with, regardless of what type of organization we work for or what role we have in that organization.
“We all purchase items in retail stores, we have cable and phone service, so if we aren’t currently passionate about Service Excellence, we certainly should be,” she explained.
In the webinar Karyn described Service Excellence as being able to provide peak service experiences. For today’s customers those peak service experiences come with high expectations, which Karyn broke down into three areas:
- Lean processes: What they want when they want it, right the first time with no hassle.
“No one has patience to wait anymore, and not only do today’s customers not have any patience, they don’t want to get a defect, they actually want the process of ordering and receiving the service to be hassle free,” Karyn explained.
- Luxury experiences at coach prices: Same or lower price than competitors
“Today’s customers don’t just want what they want, exactly when they want it, right the first time, they want what I call ‘luxury experiences at coach prices.’ Uber is a really good example of this; customers expect a clean car, they expect a well-dressed driver, water and snacks, and a place to plug-in all of their devices, all for less than half the price of a regular taxi ride would be,” Karyn said.
- Caring, human, personal, real connections: “I’m not a machine, I’m a human being."
“And finally, if you thought that was enough, it actually isn’t; today’s customers really want caring, human, personal, real connections. Although it’s quick and easy to interact with an app, or send a customer complaint by Twitter, what people really want in service is to connect with another live, real human being,” Karyn continued. “We’re all human beings, we’re not machines and service is actually about other people, so in order for something to be a peak service experience, what today’s customers all want, is it has to be what the customer wants, their way, now, and with a personal, human, caring touch. And when we can provide that, we’re creating and delivering Service Excellence.”
As Karyn explained, in short, today’s customers want it all, they want it their way, and they want it now!
“What I say today’s customers don’t want, is ever to hear the words ‘I can’t.’ Customers hire our service organizations to serve them, to give them what they want, when they want it, right the first time. What they don’t want to ever hear is the service representative they’re talking to answer their question and their request with ‘I can’t.’”
Karyn said creativity can be used to remove "I can’t" from organizations’ vocabulary in order to achieve Service Excellence.
“In my experience, the reason people say I can’t is because they think they don’t know how to do something, that they aren’t able to do something, and they don’t have any way of figuring out how to do it. Whatever the 'I can’t' is, it seems to be currently impossible. I don’t actually believe in that though, because so many of the products and services that we once thought were impossible they are now actually commonplace,” Karyn said. “I believe that we say 'I can’t' because, in general, figuring out how to do something means two things: first is that we have to have an idea of how to do that something differently, and then, we have to have a method of actually turning that idea into reality. And having an idea about how to do something differently involves being creative. Unfortunately, most people I know, don’t think that they’re creative.”
In the webinar Karyn explained that creativity coupled with a system to understand customer needs both now and in the future, followed by actually creating the peak service experiences that are going to address those needs, will ensure a company fulfills its purpose over the long term.
Karyn walked viewers through the approach that she uses to coach for creativity and service excellence, differentiating it from many of the training practices used by organizations picking up Lean today.
“Fifteen minutes of daily coaching is what we need to do to develop people’s creativity and their ability to use The Toyota Way/Lean principles to strive toward Service Excellence, because that’s exactly what our customers need, and our organizations need to flourish, thrive and grow for the long-term,” Karyn said.
If you would like to hear more about Karyn’s creativity and coaching methods, you can view the full webinar here.