Four words that will deliver authentic service - how can that be possible?
Well it is and here they are:
DON’T MAKE STUFF UP
I’ve read and read and re-read great articles about authentic leadership, but do you know, most of our customers / service users will never experience authentic leadership. But they will experience the service that is the outcome, not just of our authentic leadership, but all the components that your organisation has that result in a service interaction.
So why is not making stuff up important?
How many times have you been on the receiving end of a service interaction (what I call ‘fake service’) where:
the provider clearly didn't know the answer, the process or the product yet tried to spin a yarn that made it appear as though they did?
the provider appeared to know what they were talking about but the gap between their story and what happened in fulfilment wasn't just a gap; it was a chasm?
the provider wasn’t even interested in any gap between their knowledge, their systems or processes and your expectations; there were simply other things that they'd rather be talking about - often with colleagues?
Authentic service is a game changer for lots of organisations. It can be recognised by great customer experience feedback, better and better repeat business, reduced complaints and rework and happier, more confident colleagues.
Why then do people make stuff up?
Well, I don’t have a definitive list but I can imagine it might be because of:
a lack of knowledge; a training or education gap
a lack of confidence in the business processes based on perception or experience
a genuine lack of interest
a wish to avoid to looking daft, incompetent or otherwise not in control
a genuine delusion; a self perception gap
The great thing is all of these can be understood, observed and improved.
Michael Hyatt identifies five characteristics of authentic leadership
But why should these characteristics be limited to leadership?
Why not share your service insight (what happens, when, why and how), show some initiative (anticipating customer needs before they tell you about them), influencing your up and downstream colleagues to get things right for the customer and impacting the take away experience of the customer irrespective of whether it’s face to face, over the phone or through the internet.
Most importantly why not be honest? If you don’t know something, say so, then show the initiative to find out. If something has gone wrong, an apology isn't an admission of wrong doing, inability or in any way demeaning to the person apologising. Authentically or genuinely delivered, an apology is the best service recovery tool we have.
Being authentic also means being true to yourself, bringing you, your values and your character to the job in hand. Professional, of course, but human - absolutely.
So, being authentic isn’t a leadership thing in isolation. We can all be ourselves, we can all make sure we are prepared for delivering spectacular service and most of all, please don’t make stuff up because it destroys service.