I shall be leaving my position as Service Excellence Coordinator shortly after having been in this position for the last 3 ½ years. I’ve been thinking about what it takes to be good in my position and to make a difference. Keep in mind that you are an expense, a cost center. You therefore have to continually prove your worth.
Working for a proudly ISO 9001:2008 certified company, the primary focus of this position is maintenance of the Quality Management System and, hence, maintenance of our ISO certification.
Keep the client in mind
So why bother with this whole ISO thing? Your end focus is to always keep the client mind. Whatever you do has to, eventually, be client oriented. You want to provide the client with not just the product they asked for, but also provide good service at the same time. They must know that you are listening to them, and have their interests at heart.
You need to focus at your internal processes. What you do and how you do it will directly affect the quality of the final product or service delivered to the client. This is referenced quite a few times in the ISO standard. If something goes wrong in the company, from recruitment to product creation, your product delivery may suffer.
So how do you go about doing this? I believe that there are a number of different attributes that a Service Excellence individual requires.
Care about company and staff
By caring about what happens in the company and to the staff you will always try your best to help them do their work. What they do, matters, and if you can help them then all the better. Keep reminding staff about creating a quality product. This does not have to be in their face, a subtle message will do just as well. It could be a banner on the internal portal that changes regularly or your company values in the footer of your email.
Quality audits are done both internally and externally. We do about 10 internal quality audits a year on different value chains (e.g. purchasing, recruitment, product realization). During these we focus on a particular process and compare what is done to what is documented. Any deficiencies are noted and discussed with top management. If something makes business sense and could improve the quality of the product, there’s a good chance it will be implemented.
External audits are done by an auditing firm where they check different processes. We have 2 surveillance audits a year. Every 3 years we are re-audited totally. It’s always good speaking to an external auditor as they often provide you with tips on where you can improve.
Continuously think about the company
Thinking about what happens at the company should not stop when you go home after work. You don’t need to sit and think the whole time, just keep an open mind to ideas. When going to a store, for instance, have a look at what quality measures they have in place – you might just learn something from them. Browse differently companies’ websites and social media presences and see what they do.
Be innovative in your search for Excellence
Every company does things differently and also changes regularly, so you need to continuously change your thinking about quality and your internal processes. How can YOU influence quality? What can you do internally to assist staff?
Among the things that we do are the following:
- Operational and strategic reporting
This is geared towards line managers and company directors. Line managers need to keep a focus on their teams to know at all times what is happening and which jobs are on each one’s desk. What have a very nice, custom developed, “what’s on the desk?” operational dashboard that gives an overview of the whole team at a single glance.
Strategic reporting is normally driven by EXCO or the MD, to which I report. They often have their own idea of how things are to be reported. But one thing I’ve learnt is that without clearly defined company objectives and KPI’s, a dashboard cannot be created. Our dashboards tie in with the defined company objectives.
- Internal communication
Get the people talking. Communication, communication, communication. Each person should know where they stand in the company. There must be no walls between management and non-management staff, in terms of communication. The ISO standard is quite clear on this and requires regular feedback (termed “internal communication”) to staff. At work this takes the form of monthly staff feedback sessions, technical sessions (termed Techie Thursday) and an internal blog.
- Using social media to communicate with clients
We needed a way to let clients know what we have done for them recently and what is happening in the service excellence department. To this end we have monthly dashboards that are sent to our clients presenting what we did for them in the past (rolling) 3 months. We also have the, not so, regular newsletter which contains a section entitled “From The Desk of Service Excellence” where I would cover topics such as Service Level Agreements and their related escalations.
Then there’s a twitter account on all things excellence. Of course, there’s caution to be had when working with social media. Being part of a listed entity, you have to be very careful of mentioning anything during the restricted period that might influence the share price.
So what do you think? If you had to hire a Service Excellence individual, what qualities would you look for?