Five Keys to Creating an Uplifting Service Culture

business-people-shaking-hands1Recently I was walking through a distribution warehouse to meet a client. Hanging on the wall were safety posters instructing employees how to lift heavy boxes. Most of us have seen these posters many times. This was the first time I stopped to read one.

“Ron, are you ready to get started with the meeting?” asked the vice-president showing me around the building.

“I want to read this,” I replied. “Can I take a second?”

As you can imagine, the VP’s facial expression registered confusion over my interest in a standardized safety poster.

Soon I was seated in the boardroom with a table full of executives. The conversation focused on an obvious lack of performance that was affecting the company’s bottom line. “Mr. Kaufman,” said the chief executive. “You’re a service guru. We already have a fantastic service department. And we don’t get many customer complaints. But this is a cultural issue. Is this really something you can help with?”

Don’t Leave It to a Department

I’ve heard these types of comments for more than 20 years, in all corners of the globe and inside some of the world’s most recognized heavyweight organizations. The perception of many companies is that service is something handled by a department or a specific job title. It’s something only necessary to customer satisfaction.

“Would you mind if we talked about your safety posters?” I asked the CEO.

My seemingly odd question captured the CEO’s attention. Safety posters offer a simple, best practice to lift anything heavy, like a package, a tool—or even an entire culture. The posters instruct employees to stretch properly, position their body carefully, and use their strongest muscles. Plus, they tell employees to study and practice proper habits continuously.

When it comes to uplifting a culture—engaging people, motivating people, building loyalty, increasing performance, and creating a sustainable advantage—many companies pass by service as a solution, because somehow the concept has been improperly labeled.

I define service like this: taking action to create value for someone else. Those are powerfully simple words. So consider the impact of an uplifting service culture, a shared purpose within every aspect of your business, interaction, and transaction, from the boardroom down through the front line, where everyone focuses on creating value for someone else both internally and externally. Imagine the effect on performance, engagement, customer loyalty, employee retention, value, and competitive advantage.

“Let’s talk about the basic instructions for lifting anything,” I said to the group. “Let’s use the instructions of a safety poster to talk about building an uplifting service culture.”

1. Stretch. Yes, there are calisthenics for your culture. Stretch your mind and your old habits. Get the creativity flowing. Ask the big questions of why: Why do we need to change? Why service? Why now?

2. Position yourself. Lifting a culture requires proper positioning and support from all levels. Leadership must lead service. And everyone else must make himself or herself a service leader.

3. Use your strong muscles. The architecture of your company is akin to physiology. Muscles need flexing. Blocks need building. The building blocks of your culture, such as communication, recognition, vision, and metrics, need shaping. Analyze each block to understand which needs improvement.

4. Study. Educate your team with continuous exercise and understanding. Just because I read the safety poster once doesn’t mean I will perform properly. True education means I can perform based on the knowledge I have acquired and the practices I have learned.

5. Practice. Results really pay off here. Practice is the action of continually seeking improvement. It’s the correcting, steering, and adjusting to find continued success.

There is superhuman strength in every culture. Look at the heavyweights in the world, such as Ritz-Carlton, Nordstrom, Disney, Singapore Airlines, Southwest,, Nokia, Apple, Amazon, and Zappos. What’s their strongest muscle? It’s a culture based on service—an uplifting service culture.

Join Ron Kaufman at his Service Leadership Workshop on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 in Dubai. Visit for more details & to register you & your team.


Source – [Ron Kaufman]


Disney Dreams Demonstrate Customer Service Excellence

tokyo-disneyland-japanDisneyland puts on an extravaganza of lights, fireworks, characters, and special effects called “Fantasmic” every evening.

In the performance, Mickey Mouse has a dream with all his friends singing and dancing with joy.

As my daughter and I watched, suddenly the dream turned into a nightmare, and many evil characters came to life with raging anger, noise and venom. Fire shot from a huge dragon’s mouth. Real flames blasted across the water.

Everyone in the audience felt the heat!

At the worst, loudest and most angry moment, when I felt most scared and my daughter was gripping me with both her little hands, Mickey appeared center stage and squeaked loudly: “Hey! This is MY dream!”

With a spark from his magic wand he defeated the dragon and blasted the evil characters into submission.

Fear and anger died away, and a huge riverboat steamed around the bend with all the joyful Disney characters on board, waving to the crowd. Fireworks soared and the audience cheered with approval. Brighten shook me with excitement. I cried with appreciation for this magical transformation and life-enhancing performance that demonstrated customer service excellence from beginning to end.

The extravaganza calmed down and the boat sailed away. Fireworks dimmed and all lights shone brightly on Mickey Mouse, high above the crowd. In his most lovable voice he looked out over his customers and friends and said, “Pretty neat imagination, huh? Ha, ha!” And with that he was gone, lights out, the show was over. Magic! Customer service excellence in action!

Brighten and I hugged in delight.

Disney is so good at moving, making and managing emotions, I didn’t even mind the vacuum cleaner they silently attached to my wallet. It was quite full when we went into the park, and altogether empty when we left. Disney runs a magically good business and is famed for customer service excellence, too!

Key Learning Point To Create Customer Service Excellence

Hey, this is YOUR dream! Whatever fantasies, realities, nightmares or delights you may choose, they are YOURS to change, expand, continue or dissolve. With a zap and a spark of your magical imagination and determination, you can defeat the dastardly demons, and bring your favorite character (the best of you) to life. Create your own magic with customer service excellence.

Action Steps To Create Customer Service Excellence

When the heat of hard times is scaring you silly, it’s time to take a stand for the future. Grab the tools of your life and your magnificent imagination, and say out loud, “Hey! This is MY dream!” Then go for it. You can create your own magic and customer service excellence.

Make your life a masterpiece of emotion, affection, appreciation, creativity, generosity, responsibility, enthusiasm and commitment. Live a life you are proud to lead every day – and are happy to share with others. Live a life that fills you up and turns you on. Make this lifetime magic! Customer service excellence is a lesson that applies at work and at home. Take a lesson from Disney and master the art of delivering customer service excellence in your life.

Source – [Ron Kaufman]