I’m assuming that typically, a business would want to move from being a start-up, to being good and maybe ultimately, to being great. To me, a great business is one that is a great place to do business and a great place to work. A place where both customers and employees are extraordinarily happy (and yes, I’ve heard that these places do exist). For many businesses however, getting to this nirvana is a journey to a far off destination and often, many don’t have the staying power to complete the course.
When a business is planning to become service centric, the best place to start is by being committed to excellence. When excellence is its foundation, a business may not even need to stand on the proverbial four legs, it can stand on one. As I’ve mentioned before, a business needs to think of itself as more than its mission, it has to think of itself as a brand with a grand vision, so that on a clear day and with clear lens, “ to be the industry leader” becomes a believable goal. This is how brand excellence starts….with a belief.
Brand excellence is driven by strategy, great leadership, opportunity and quite a bit of luck. Strategy is the key to mapping how the moving parts of a business will come together to deliver cohesion between what is planned and what actually happens. So it makes sense to have line of sight between point A and point Z, whilst making allowance for accommodating all of the other points in between. As we all know, those unwanted guests will always show up. A friend always reminds me, “whenever you’re making plans, make allowance for change to be part of the plans.”
The futurists tell us that it pays to not only study trends, but to take the actions that can either reduce the probability of risk or loss, or increase the possibility of benefitting from opportunities, based on the trend indicators. If we consider the most recent pandemic, many futurists predicted for many years that an outbreak was going to happen, not unlike the way that the seismologists predict that the Caribbean region is due for a major earthquake. The thing is, having heard the pronouncements, who heeds the indications, who acts and what prescriptive actions are taken to mitigate the fallout or maximize the benefits? Given that the typical strategic plan has a three year timeline, it appears that not many businesses make it a rule to think or plan deeply into the future. On the contrary, the trillion-dollar businesses that dominate their industries, plan for perpetuity and look at a twenty year horizon at a time. In this way, they consider how consuming and buying behaviour may change across multiple generations, plot multiple scenarios and keep an eye on what the trajectories are saying, to inform their business decisions.
A business in pursuit of excellence often will be drawn to best practice. Best practice refers to the superior practices and standards that are the hallmarks within a particular industry. Businesses typically set their standards against those of industry leaders or accredited agencies. By staying true to its commitment to the highest levels of quality delivered by best practice, a business can build its credibility and reputation as a trusted entity.
In an age where inefficiency continually shows up more often than efficiency, an efficient business becomes predictable, (in the same way that its negative counterpart also becomes predictable) and wins lots of positive ratings. Customers love nothing better than to have their expectations met in a positive and predictable way. Their love grows when the parcel is dropped off on the promised day, the driver shows up on time, the CSR calls back at the promised 10:00 am time, the document has no errors and the transaction runs smoothly, with zero hiccups. Positive predictability lifts the game and creates a persona for the particular business that attracts positive customer sentiment, which of course, is a good lever for increasing repeat business.
Enlightened leaders create the enabling architecture for a business to become a high performance culture, where employees are energized and motivated to deliver their best performance every day. There is no magic formula for this culture of greatness. The culture is built on great talent, social justice, fair play, employee inclusiveness and moral leadership, to name a few features. Leaders communicate the grand vision and behave in accord with the values that accompany the vision, so that the employee community gains respect for their leaders and become “willing” followers. Another thing, one is struck by the camaraderie, the likeable nature of the employees and their willingness to assist customers. This style will have taken shape because of the “one culture,” woven commonly across the business to enable collaboration, eliminate divisiveness and shrink silo operations.
Finally, a business that boasts a culture of excellence, will be clear that it is operating in the digital age and serving digital customers. The business will have a full digital footprint, with the enablement architecture essential to supporting efficient operations and delivering an extraordinary customer experience.
Have you noticed a common thread throughout this building block process from centre of excellence to service excellence? There is a pushing forward by the business to always be better, to do better, to perform better and to become a better brand.
It will only be a matter of time therefore, before this push for excellence clears the way for the business internally, to become a great place to work and then, externally, for service excellence to take over and create a brand that can boast of being a great place to do business.
Has your business started its centre of excellence journey as yet? If not, there’s no better time than the present.