Can Service Make the Difference in Your Business Value?
A review of Robert Petruska’s Gemba Walks for Service Excellence.
by Chia-Li Chien | Nov. 09, 2012
“No one is required to come!” What if, in a strange twist of fate, you could schedule a team meeting with this caveat? A risk you would take would be that only the ones who cared would show up for your meeting. It would be bold move for any leader. In Robert Petruska’s latest book: Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters, he encourages readers to “make your meetings voluntary!”
Consider this: You witness service every day in the workplace, church, customers, from a boss, etc. That service experience, in turn, determines how long you stick around in your job, your business, in customer relationships, with a spouse, and more.
In 2007, I was back in Taipei, Taiwan visiting my parents to reestablish my citizen record in Taipei while still keeping my U.S. citizenship. I was advised to register in the town of YungHo where my parents live. Even though I grew up in YungHo, it was my first time in the town hall. Just like the DMV here in the states, there were long lines and I was required to take a number and wait in the lobby until my number flashed on the screen. But unlike most experiences with the DMV in the States, we did not wait long to be in front of the Town Clerk.
This town clerk was very courteous and pulled my and my husband TC’s birth records to validate our history in town. For TC, it was especially hard, since his family had immigrated to the U.S. in the early 80s. I went in assuming there was no chance for TC to get registered under my parents’ address. The clerk told us that he would go into the vault and do his best to find our records. He came back with my record pretty quickly since I had gotten an official government-issued ID card before I left for the U.S. in 1988.
The clerk then made few calls to track down TC’s record. To our surprise, he found it and came back with a record book dating back to 1963, when TC was born. It was priceless to see our personal historical records for the first time. The clerk’s obliging service made the entire process such a pleasant experience. He even joked the whole time about the fact that I am still “legally” single in Taiwan. You see, I married in the U.S. and became a U.S. citizen; therefore, my records in Taiwan still show me as single. The clerk told TC, “You better watch out, she is the most valuable single in town!” Why did this experience resonate with me? Because of the service excellent!
Great service is contagious because it spreads so quickly. It only takes one person to have the right service attitude to change the workplace. In Petruska’s book, Gemba Walks for Service Excellence, he shares a few points that can help any leader create great service, resulting in a competitive edge in his or her business industry:
• Leadership via observing on your feet. Make your rounds at the office early in the morning. People don’t really care about your projects (or business) unless they know you care. “What you pay attention to as a leader absolutely matters!” says Petruska. Apply the Gemba Walks process to make your observations in the workplace.
• Innovation from excellent service. Petruska references the Kano Model in achieving excellent customer satisfaction through certain performance characteristics. This drives innovation in your workplace, and your innovation is unique and easy to implement in your business. You don’t need to worry about copycat competitors. “It is easy to copy the tools, but not the underlying principles,” says Petruska. Your service innovation will sustain you in the market space.
• Strive for performance Improvement. Performance improvement is not just being measured by the fiduciary control that most businesses look for. Fiduciary control, according to Petruska, is typically found in financial KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) widely used in publicly traded businesses or mid-sized to large privately held businesses. KPIs are great tools for keeping things on track, yet human capital performance is the best way to add to that formula for overall improvement.
In addition to following his process in Gemba Walks for Service Excellence, Petruska encourages all leaders to set the tone of their corporate culture by following his Four Awesome Principals:
• We are all in this together
• No one is doing anything wrong
• Anything can be improved
• We’re helping each other to improve
You and I know innovation is one of the important keys to continue to grow your business in value. Setting the right tone in culture and a willingness to innovate through excellent service is by far one of the easiest ways to sustain your growth plan. At the end of the day, your human capital, or team, make these innovations and deliver excellent service. They’ll do it by watching how YOU, as the leader, do it!
About Chia-Li Chien
Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li “like JOLLY,” succession strategist for women entrepreneurs, award-Winning author and speaker. She is Chief Strategist of Value Growth Institute, dedicated to helping private business owners increase the equity value of their firms. She is the award-winning author of the books Show Me The Money and Work toward Reward and a faculty member of the American Management Association. Her blog and newsletter was named a Top Small Business Resource by the New York Times You’re the Boss blog. http://chialichien.com