I teach Service Marketing as an elective for undergraduates every second semester at the Ateneo.  While the extra effort I need to allot for the once-a-week, three-hour lectures and checking of papers leave me pressed for time, I find the experience of interacting with young people and finding out how they think and express themselves both inspiring and enlightening.
 
As an advocate of service excellence, I try to impart not just the obvious role of service in sustainable competitive advantage but in creating standards of service comparable to outstanding companies worldwide.  In lieu of fieldwork given the limited number of weeks every second semester especially for graduating students, one of the exercises I ask them to do is the service journal.  Here, they are to submit two cases describing their own service encounters.  I purposely do not tell them what to look out for, just to tell their story which include characters involved and what transpired.  At the end of the third week, they are to summarize their experiences and come up with reflections as to analysis of root causes versus symptoms, and hopefully synthesize new ideas through commonalities in their observed experiences.  I had previously told them to explore service cases from various industries because students often share just their food or shopping experiences.
 
This process of writing a service journal serves more than just fulfill a requirement for me to grade.  It is intended to encourage students to develop a critical eye by noticing details in any encounter which could make or break the experience.  They are expected to form an opinion and set their personal standards of turnaround time or quality service.  They are enjoined to understand what could be the causes of failures or success instead of just seeing things on the level of “ok” or “not ok”.  A few students will always go through this exercise initially only to comply but as the weeks wore on, I find that their stories include more details and observations and they become  more discriminating in terms of personal rating of the level of experience.  By the end of the semester, I always get stories that describe service time to the last second, or that they are finally giving feedback to the managers instead of being “typical Filipino and just let things go”.
 
We already know it --  the Filipino either does not complain or is easy to please.  In one feedback from a student, he said he didn’t want to complain so as not to embarrass the waiter.  I just reminded him to think he is giving feedback instead of complaining – that will not just change perspective, it will also change the tone of voice and choice of words that are kinder and less harsh.
 
I often tell my corporate clients who are interested to improve service levels to start their meetings with a sharing of service stories among members of the team.  The team leader can further facilitate the sharing by asking more details or by asking more questions like “why do you think that happened?”  or “do you think they’d treat you differently if they knew you were somebody else?”  Often, people do not process beyond the emotions of the experience.  Customers will talk about the best or the worst experiences but might not always talk about what could be the reason why things happened.
 
In a service company, a deeper exploration of such cases or encounters will help employees think more independently of possible root causes based on their own personal experiences and hopefully will learn to be more proactive.  After all, one of the golden rules of service is to “stand in your own queues”.  This is particularly important especially when the issue is more about fixing the process instead of training frontliners to just say sorry.  As I told one client, “no matter how well we train your frontliners in handling complaints, if your operations or processes cannot fix the most basic issue which is the delivery of the service expected and paid for by the customer, you will never hear the end of complaints.”  Imagine then if members of your service team, both in the front end and the back end, are aware of how going for the root cause of service hiccups and working together creates exceptional service thereby reducing stress for everyone and producing a healthier, happier workplace?
 
Heighten awareness by sharing those service encounters now.
 
 
Chiqui Escareal-Go is the CEO and Chief Service Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (www.mansmith.net). She will be conducting seminar-workshops entitled 14th Delivering Outstanding Service on February 23-24, 2012 and the 7th Fundamentals of Customer Service on March 22, 2012. Please send your questions to mentors@mansmith.net, call (02)584-5858/412-0034 or text 0918-81-168-88.
 
 
Total Number of Words : 798I teach Service Marketing as an elective for undergraduates every second semester at the Ateneo.  While the extra effort I need to allot for the once-a-week, three-hour lectures and checking of papers leave me pressed for time, I find the experience of interacting with young people and finding out how they think and express themselves both inspiring and enlightening.
 
As an advocate of service excellence, I try to impart not just the obvious role of service in sustainable competitive advantage but in creating standards of service comparable to outstanding companies worldwide.  In lieu of fieldwork given the limited number of weeks every second semester especially for graduating students, one of the exercises I ask them to do is the service journal.  Here, they are to submit two cases describing their own service encounters.  I purposely do not tell them what to look out for, just to tell their story which include characters involved and what transpired.  At the end of the third week, they are to summarize their experiences and come up with reflections as to analysis of root causes versus symptoms, and hopefully synthesize new ideas through commonalities in their observed experiences.  I had previously told them to explore service cases from various industries because students often share just their food or shopping experiences.
 
This process of writing a service journal serves more than just fulfill a requirement for me to grade.  It is intended to encourage students to develop a critical eye by noticing details in any encounter which could make or break the experience.  They are expected to form an opinion and set their personal standards of turnaround time or quality service.  They are enjoined to understand what could be the causes of failures or success instead of just seeing things on the level of “ok” or “not ok”.  A few students will always go through this exercise initially only to comply but as the weeks wore on, I find that their stories include more details and observations and they become  more discriminating in terms of personal rating of the level of experience.  By the end of the semester, I always get stories that describe service time to the last second, or that they are finally giving feedback to the managers instead of being “typical Filipino and just let things go”.
 
We already know it --  the Filipino either does not complain or is easy to please.  In one feedback from a student, he said he didn’t want to complain so as not to embarrass the waiter.  I just reminded him to think he is giving feedback instead of complaining – that will not just change perspective, it will also change the tone of voice and choice of words that are kinder and less harsh.
 
I often tell my corporate clients who are interested to improve service levels to start their meetings with a sharing of service stories among members of the team.  The team leader can further facilitate the sharing by asking more details or by asking more questions like “why do you think that happened?”  or “do you think they’d treat you differently if they knew you were somebody else?”  Often, people do not process beyond the emotions of the experience.  Customers will talk about the best or the worst experiences but might not always talk about what could be the reason why things happened.
 
In a service company, a deeper exploration of such cases or encounters will help employees think more independently of possible root causes based on their own personal experiences and hopefully will learn to be more proactive.  After all, one of the golden rules of service is to “stand in your own queues”.  This is particularly important especially when the issue is more about fixing the process instead of training frontliners to just say sorry.  As I told one client, “no matter how well we train your frontliners in handling complaints, if your operations or processes cannot fix the most basic issue which is the delivery of the service expected and paid for by the customer, you will never hear the end of complaints.”  Imagine then if members of your service team, both in the front end and the back end, are aware of how going for the root cause of service hiccups and working together creates exceptional service thereby reducing stress for everyone and producing a healthier, happier workplace?
 
Heighten awareness by sharing those service encounters now.
 
 
Chiqui Escareal-Go is the CEO and Chief Service Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc.  She will be conducting the 20thDelivering Outstanding Service program on July 21-22, 2016 in Makati.  For inquiries, please email info@mansmith.netor call (02) 584-5858 or (02) 412-0034.