Organizations that don’t do well with culture change efforts are because they are just not determined enough. Here are some of the pitfalls I have found why the efforts don’t stick:
1. Organizations that truly want to change a culture, should not call the transformation an “initiative” or a “program”, for example, a Service Excellence initiative or a Service Excellence program. This is exactly how it will be perceived by everyone in the organization. Using these terms lets people know that if they wait and go through the motions, it will soon be replaced by something else.
A culture change is a “process”. A “process” is never finished and requires constant attention. Senior leadership must set the tone by being visible and involved. They must call it a “Service Excellence Process.” All communications by leadership must insist the new culture is here to stay.
2. All the effort is aimed at the lower level of the organization. Service mapping, the ease of the customer journey, everything speaks checklists are enforced only at the front line level and not by the senior management. Senior leaders can apply these tools to their customers (the employees) and improve the employee experience which in turn will improve the external customer experience.
3. “Intolerable service exists when intolerable service is tolerated.” When you say you want your employees to give great service and you observe somebody who is not giving great service and you don’t say anything about it, the message you send is that of acceptance and it is all lip service. There has to be accountability. For a culture change of service excellence to be successful, leadership cannot just talk a great game of what they want the culture to look like, but they must hold everyone accountable for the things that really make a difference in the quality of the interaction with customers. All those things that hard wire your service expectations into the organization culture, such as; recognition, job descriptions, promotions, performance appraisals, coaching and counseling must be woven into the day-to-day systems and procedures.
A culture change is not easy or everyone would be doing it. But once you have made the determination that you want to make the change, then be strong and back it up to avoid these three pitfalls.