Creating customer service from the ground up – Not just an afterthought, embed it into the culture

John Schumacher is GM Service Support for Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand. John has been a key driver behind the transformation of Fujitsu’s Service Support organisation, which has recently won a number of awards for service excellence. We asked John to give some insight into how to create excellence in customer service…

Where does customer service start, and where does it stop?
It has to start with an aligned view on what constitutes Service.  This is formed through understanding how customers and other parts of your organisation see you and your outcomes.   What perception do people have of your service?  And does that equate to what your staff see as representative of their efforts?

It starts with culture…
This is where the journey on Customer Service started for me.  In the true sense – a Service Culture.  A Service Culture has to galvanise everyone – their actions, their language, the way they respond to emails, what they live and breathe,  when they see a demonstration of Service its recognised and reinforced as the right practice/behaviour/action.

After my first two months in my current role I reviewed as much feedback as I could get my hands on.  I wanted to get an understanding of what people thought of my team, our services and the value we bring to the table.  This is where everyone must start.   I categorised the feedback into three main categories: Responsiveness, Ownership and Communication (ROC).  And presented the findings to every team within Service Support (450 staff at the time across Australia and NZ).   I simply presented the intent of ROC as a value set and established working groups and competitions to get the elements we needed in place as part of a bigger Foundation of Service Delivery framework.   The response I got when presenting the feedback was overwhelming support and a willingness to change the perception of our peer groups, the account teams and ultimately the customer.

You can’t change what you can’t measure…
The first shift for us was to formally measure the good service we were providing, and move away from sending out warning emails about what not to do (which just reinforced negatives).  We recognised and rewarded great people and great effort and banked on the fact that those who chose to not be diligent or focussed on Service would see the others made a fuss of and decide to join or leave.  It was very important to ensure we recognise the contribution being made at the coal face so we introduced a Compliments Rewards program and for every compliment we received the Staff Member was recognised and given a reward.  We now get over 300 compliments a month, where customers who have interacted with my team have felt compelled to write in and tell us it was great.

We now get over 300 compliments a month, where customers who have interacted with my team have felt compelled to write in and tell us it was great.

Get people thinking about customer service from the word Go…
The second major shift was to scrap the Induction training and start all over again.  This combined with a review of recruitment established a new approach for how we treat someone new to our organisation.  They are left in no doubt we are focussed on Service.  We spend the first 5 days (of 12 days) training in Customer Service covering such topics as “What constitutes Service?”  and “How to understand Service as an outcome?”.  An important part of the training requires the new starter (usually a Service Desk Operator) having to send me an email explaining what Service Means to them and we both sign a Service pledge which gets presented in the graduation ceremony at the end of their training.  These emails give a great insight into how the people who are actually servicing the customer are taking their time to think about it.  And they are brilliant content wise.  Best part is, the individual has spent the time thinking about Service as part of the whole process.

Build a support infrastructure to reinforce the Service Culture…
There are several other key elements that need to be established within a framework.  Quality Call Management (Call Recording) for feedback, SLA reporting and breaches being explained in every single instance, ROC Unplugged which drives Service Improvements ideas, Customer Scorecards which are completed by the account team rating the level of Service, and a main portal for communications covering compliments and training registers/ career planning/ staff competitions / compliments leader boards / ROC values and history of ROC.

The success we have had with Foundation of Service Delivery means we will never stop focussing on Service and how to improve it.  ROC is now being deployed across all Fujitsu Global Delivery Centres to strengthen the experience we provide customers worldwide and the plans to grow the Framework to a higher standard are already in place.

Over the past 18 months our people have genuinely responded as they want to feel they make a difference each day – and our customers have responded to this.  Momentum is an amazing thing, the outcomes of ROC have far exceeded my expectation.  People make the difference.  Their willingness to deliver Service has really come to the fore with the right framework and training enabling them.

How do we know we are customer centric?

“That ROCS” – more than just a tag line…
For me this is about how people see their roles, the language they use daily, their thoughts and behaviours.  It is also about whether we are looking at the right measures and indicators – not just SLAs, but customer commentary and feedback.  What I have witnessed over the past 18 months is a vernacular coming into discussions with my peers and with other teams where upon noticing a great piece of feedback or a great initiative everyone (not just my team) is saying “that ROCs”.  It’s a strong sign that the culture is being established and it has moved from just my presentations and commentary about intent and vision but that people are seeing it day in and day out through the actions of my staff and the response from our customers.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes…
Breaking down by functional team what Responsiveness, Ownership and Communication means for them and how they can demonstrate it.  So here a customer centric sign would be that the approach to any opportunity or situation has a full view on how this impacts the customer. ‘Customer centric’ is more than delivering an SLA – it is about the whole operation being geared to achieve what the customer sees as a successful outcome (in their business terms).

Are there any secret formulas for success?

  1. Keep it simpleGet the message into achievable blocks,  have an implementation schedule that doesn’t confuse or overload (we started with compliments being measured, recognition / rewards structure, and revised Training).
  2. Clarity. Make the effort to get people clear on what the situation is (or the challenge is) – I am a firm believer that awareness is the first step to any change,  so share it all.
  3. Alignment. The management challenge is making sure you can measure it and most importantly that as a management team you are all aligned and passionate about the journey to establishing a true Service culture.
  4. Persistence. When you start the journey, don’t take your foot off the pedal.  Our program could have easily come and gone in the early stages as we dealt with a multitude of day to day operation issues and challenges.
  5. Develop a common understanding.  The number one lesson for me was that not everyone understands “Service as an outcome” – the goal for any management team must be to get that understanding assimilated across all practices.
  6. Self promotion. And lastly, promote the success and get the profile as high in the organisation as you can.  We have the ROC program endorsed from the President of International Business through to the local management, all signed and framed in the training facility.  This is the first thing new starters see when they join Fujitsu via my part of the organisation.  It’s the first impression we make on them.  Service is king.

My last comment on creating a service culture is that I get tremendous satisfaction out of seeing my staff make a difference.  I love promoting their fantastic customer feedback,  I enjoy seeing their emails about how ROC training has really prepared them for their role and I am proud of the people who have worked extremely hard to develop and deploy such a world class Service program.

It has been acknowledged by ITSMF as the best Service Desk project in 2012,   highly commended by Customer Service Institute of Australia for Service Desk excellence 2012, acknowledged by Learn X for best learning team Award 2012  and is Globally making Fujitsu a stronger Service provider.

Here is a link to a video that documents our journey and also the presentation of the ITSMF award.

4 thoughts on “Creating customer service from the ground up – Not just an afterthought, embed it into the culture

  1. Your post, Creating customer service from the ground up – Not just an afterthought, embed it into the culture | Shaping Technology, Shaping Business, is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards!

  2. Whoever said ‘Quality in a service is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it’, had obviously never struck upon the ROC, which is the very foundation of our now almost legendary customer service!! While I have experienced first-hand the benefits of the ROC culture that is fast sweeping our customers off their feet, it is indeed good to read about it from the founder itself. To learn about the thought process behind it and the effort that has gone into creating a programme that has now become synonymous with ‘service par excellence’. Thank you for a most insightful and thought-provoking blog John!

    In all honesty, when I joined Fujitsu as a Team Leader at the start of the year, I was quite sceptical about my career prospects, as it was a few steps backwards for me. Having just moved from overseas, I accepted the first and only role that I interviewed for, as recruitment for more senior roles at most other reputed Organisations was closed over Christmas. I was forthright with Mark who conducted my final interview and expressed my reservations. That’s when I first heard about ROC. I was assured by Mark that if I followed the ROC values to the ‘T’, success would automatically follow and I would receive my due recognition. “The world is your oyster” is what he said to me, and how true that has turned out to be.

    Abiding by the ROC values saw my team, my fellow Team Leader Abrahem and myself, reap rich dividends – in terms of Rewards and increased customer appreciation. This has in turn enabled me to be recognised in your words, as someone “committed to providing ‘ROC solid’ support to our customers”. Surely this has paved the way for my recent promotion and I am thankful to you for being the architect of a programme that not just revolutionises our approach to customer service, but propagates a way of life at work. A way of life that will result not merely in improved customer service, but also increased staff engagement. After all ‘happy employees make for happy customers; and I look forward to spreading that around and adding value to the service chain’. :-)

  3. I would just like to add a comment to Johns post to agree with the method and success behind the ROC program.

    Getting a job at Fujitsu came at a time where I wanted a short term job to save up money to continue travelling around Australia, Fujitsu offered me a three month contract.

    After my first two weeks training I was really pleased and surprised at how well I had fit into my new role and the team. My career at Fujitsu started to change from a short term option to became a long term prospect.
    The ROC culture journey started with basic professional courtesy on how we communicate with the customer and each other making sure that everyone across the business used a high standard of communication. People often only talk about the bad and not the good, having only good things to say helps businesses grow and win important customers.
    People on the phone and working day to day with customers are the face of the Fujitsu brand and play an important role in ensuring that they maintain the A grade standard customers have come to expect.
    In the training I had a chance to meet people from across the business that were starting in different roles, this was a great way to meet people out of my immediate team, some of these people have stayed my friends 7 months on and have helped me develop in my role.

    At the end of the training I was told about and experienced firsthand the ROC awards. This was a meeting of the entire service desk at the office in Homebush for people that had gone beyond the call of duty or that had completed a particular hard task within the last month; they were rewarded with a gift voucher and a round of applause from a group of their colleagues.

    When I saw this I was very excited to win my first ROC award and knew that I had to win an award as soon as possible, I could see the huge benefit of winning one these awards would have on my professional career at Fujitsu.
    After one month and one ROC award for an idea on how to better serve the customer, Fujitsu offered me a permanent position at the service desk and sponsorship to stay in the country for a further 4 years. Without the ROC awards and programs my ability would not have been seen by managers and I would have lost out on an amazing opportunity and Fujitsu would have lost a hungry graduate from the UK that was looking for a company that was proving the best service.

  4. For myself, ROC training was an eye opening experience and one that I would recommend to anybody who has ever worked on a service desk. However, as it is a Fujitsu initiative, not everybody is as fortunate as us to have this excellent programme available to them. This is what sets Fujitsu Service Desk apart from any other. The ROC program has proven vital for myself to provide the best service that I can each and every day. My thanks go to all the hardworking people behind the ROC program and to John for his on-going commitment to it. I am confident that this program will continue to set Fujitsu apart from the rest.

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