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The PS Paradigm of Customer Service Roice N.

Krueger July 1991 The PS Paradigm provides a frame of reference for diagnosing and treating your customer service problems. Many companies today are focusing on quality and continuous improvement; however, many forget that that quality is ultimately defined by the customer. For example, in our work with Procter & Gamble, we talk a lot about the importance of alignment with the mission statement. That raised the question, "How well do we walk our service talk?" "Do the people on our team live the mission, and is it aligned with our strategy? Do we try to build the skills and staff to work effectively inside a system that supports our business objectives? Well, after going through a little self-assessment, we decided that we could improve. And so we sent Corinne Barr, my administrative assistant, to P&G to evaluate the quality of our service. She came back with a more complete assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of our service to this highly valued customer. We took immediate action on the weaknesses, and over time, managed to turn mediocrity into service excellence, as defined and recognized by the customer. Sometimes I'm shocked at how slow sales and service reps can be at personalizing or customizing their approach to a customer who is standing right in front of them. For example, a few years ago, I wanted to purchase a top for the back of my pick-up truck. One day while driving my nine-year-old daughter to an appointment, I decided to stop briefly at a dealership to price the units on display. Upon entering the showroom, we were met and greeted by a young woman who smiled and seemed pleasant. I then said, "I have only two or three minutes. I just want to know what these models cost. Can you help me?" The woman launched into a sales monologue, telling me about the various features and the relative strengths of each. I gave her the time-out signal. I then said, "Now, I need to make myself clear. I'm in a hurry. I just need some price information; I will come back later to shop and compare features. Again, she started into her canned pitch. I noticed that she nervously glanced toward a mirrored window at the back of the showroom. I stopped her again and said, "That's strike two. One more strike, and we'll be out of here. Just tell me the prices of the styles you have available." And then, for the third time, she proceeded with this diatribe. In frustration, I turned and started to leave the showroom with my daughter in hand. I saw the sales woman look toward the back of the showroom and shrug her shoulders. We next heard a voice yelling from behind the mirrored window: "Never mind. Let the dumb sonof-a-bitch go." In this case, the customer service structure was right; the sales person looked right; the strategy was okay; but the system was totally inflexible and unresponsive to the customer's needs. Of course, I never went back, and worse, I've dissuaded many others from ever shopping there.

The point of this story is that our paradigm of customer service must be complete. The PS Paradigm gives us a comprehensive diagnostic tool which allows us to examine the complete organization for customer service alignment. People are the source of service solutions when they are empowered to make customerfriendly decisions and are treated like the best customers are treated. They should also buy into the shared values and principles of the organization as they control the physical and financial assets. When applying those assets, their focus must be on customer service. Self you, yourself, and each and every other self represents the most important person in the organization. Customer service cannot be seen as a delegated task. Each person must take personal responsibility with the attitude, "I am customer service." Self-esteem, motivation, commitment, and skills are required to weave the thread of customer service into the fabric of daily work. Shared values and principles represent the focus of the organization, the unifying causes and directions. These should be embodied in the company mission statement, which serves as a constitution for the entire organization. Strategy is the formula for delivering service, an agreed upon method for implementing the shared vision and principles. It establishes an effective competitive position for the company and is valued by customers. It should be aligned with the environmental realities and constantly improved by feedback and market research. Stream completes the strategic "spine" of the organization. The stream is the environment the organization operates in: where the customers and competitors are. On a department level, the "stream" becomes other departments in the organization. For a multi-national corporation, the "stream" is the entire world. Skills are needed as people begin to implement the strategy in the stream. Such skills as communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, and win-win analysis are the practical "how tos" that must be enhanced through training always with the focus on customer service. Both character and competence are required of each person to exceed customer expectations. Style, likewise, must reinforce the customer focus. The predominant style is to treat internal people the same way you want your external customers to be treated. Listening, small kindnesses, constant communication, and a willingness to receive feedback are some of the key style characteristics. Such modeled interaction is consistent with customer service standards. Systems alignment with customer service is particularly important. These are the physical and procedural apparatus that the people have as resources to meet the needs of the customer. The design of these systems must be aligned so that customer service is facilitated, not inhibited. Systems must be customer friendly. This includes financial reward, measurement and feedback processes, stakeholder information systems, and the physical aspects of the organization and its products. Structure must also be supportive of the customer focus.

Operationally, the organization must be structured to meet customer needs. Issues that detract from servicing the customer must be minimized. People must be empowered to make on-the-spot decisions to improve customer service. The shared values and principles become the operating guidelines at such moments of truth. By using the PS Paradigm of customer service to analyze your organization's service effectiveness, you can highlight the strengths and the weaknesses and then align all the elements to create a quality custome service culture. For example, on my first trip to Singapore, I decided to stay at the Sheraton Towers. When I checked in, I was immediately greeted by a doorman who took my bag, sat me down in a very comfortable chair, called the reservation desk and announced my arrival. Having travelled for two days, I was very pleased with that welcome. I was then met by a butler who escorted me to my room and helped me unpack my bags. He then left to press some clothes at no extra charge. The next day, I received an embossed set of luggage tags and a brochure on how I might enjoy my stay in Singapore even more. Everywhere I went in the hotel, people called me by name. That surprised me. But the biggest surprise came on a return trip three months later. As I was checking in, three new people called me by name! How did they do that? Now, when I go to Singapore, there is only one place to stay the Sheraton Towers. This is a case of total alignment in the PS paradigm. Every person and detail in the entire organization is focused on the customer. They all understand the importance of the customer.