Service Orientation: The Heart and Hand at Work
Experts say that to do away with a bad habit you have to replace it with a new one. But what can replace a bad experience so it own’t thrive in our minds? What could replace that awful feeling of having been served the worst version of our faved dish so that we can still digest it? What can make our economy flight an unforgettable experience in the sky? It’s not an “eye-for-an-eye” compensation that would give us back our money’s worth. It’s a “heart-to-hand” action that strikes a string even in a very dissatisfied heart. Behavioural science labels it as the ability to serve.
Nothing beats a smile and an accomodating attitude in cooling down a hot situation. Nothing melts a hardened heart faster than a heartfelt act of service. Nothing tames a disgruntled spirit better than being lavishly compensated. Nothing soothes hurt feelings better than the balm of gentle words.
The field of emotional intelligence (EI) defines it as the capacity to anticipate, recognise and meet others’ needs. It belongs to the cluster of social awareness. In business it is the most effective yet least costly way of increasing sales as it builds trust and loyalty among customers. Business gurus would say, “A happy consumer is the cheapest and most effective way to advertise.” A happy and satisfied customer is a walking advertisement that attracts more people and spreads faster than commercial advertisements. On the other hand, a bad service experience can go exponentially viral on social media and can infect the company’s reputation in as short as a day. This is how critical the role of service orientation is in the organisation’s survival and success. It’s a defining factor that sets an organisation apart from its competitors. It’s what anybody would willingly pay extra for.
Though the service orientation capacity of a person is subject to many factors, it is a certain and unconscious driver of behaviour. People who rank low in this capacity
- focus on their own objectives rather than others’ needs.
- provide routine or “off-the shelf” solutions and ideas.
- speak poorly of others.
- refuse to take a stand on behalf of another person.
- fail to provide extra help (or even any help at all).
- “pass the buck”.
- may be discourteous.
What is it in this capacity that cools down an angry disposition, that soothes hurt feelings and tames a disgruntled spirit? Well, people with this capacity
- understand customers’ and clients’ needs and match them to services or products.
- monitor and seek ways to increase customers’ satisfaction and loyalty.
- gladly offer appropriate assistance; make themselves available.
- foster an emotional climate in their organisations so that people directly in touch with the customer or client will keep the relationship on the right track.
- grasp others’ perspectives, readily, and can respond and act appropriately.
We all love to hear heartwarming stories of great customer service. They’re the ones which make it to the media and become sensational ads for companies. The ability to go out of our way to serve others by being helpful, thoughtful, considerate, and sensitive sounds like an easy way to be a hero for someone. All we have to do is to wait for great opportunities to come our way to exercise these traits and we become instant sensations before others. But when these actions do not really come from deep within us —from the core of our hearts — we gain nothing but empty praises. Deep inside there is a sense of dissatisfaction because we act out what we really are not. But if we do have that desire to become a service-oriented person, we have to be intentional in developing that capacity that is lying dormant within us. It’s going to take our time and our conscious effort to practice it even in small opportunities; not because we want to gain praises but because it gives us deep satisfaction and an inner sense of fulfilment of having that opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life. Take the following developmental tips as your first steps to practicing genuine acts of service for others:
- Look for opportunities to be helpful, to be of service to both internal as well as external customers.
- This goes for executives and leaders also; adopt a servant leader approach in managing employees.
- Anticipate and be aware of the needs of others; plan ahead to meet people’s needs if possible.
- Create a culture of service by modelling the behaviour.
- Ask questions to understand another’s needs; act on or agree to a course of action.
- Under-promise and over-deliver; do more than expected.
- Follow through; check to ensure satisfaction.
- Conduct customer satisfaction surveys and needs surveys.
Products have been designed scientifically to specifically satisfy the customers’ needs. But as important as the machines that make the products are the hands that heartily handed them down to the customers with care. In the current business environment where technology has exponentially evolved, we do not only keep pace with technology but we also need to be in step with the human need to feel important, significant, and cared for. In our everyday lives, developing genuine care and concern for others might just be our most important contribution to humanity.
“The best job goes to the person who can get it done without passing the buck or coming back with excuses.” – Napolean Hill
Are you struggling in this area? Our team of experts in emotional intelligence can be of help as they offer you genuine and heartfelt service and guidance. Contact us today.