03-01: Carla Carvalho Dias
Chair: Adré Schreuder
Customer Service from the Inside out – Servant Leadership
Great Costumer service is something all the companies need and want to have but are they willing to change behaviours?
This study explores the relationship between the internal culture of a company and leadership style with the customer service.
It is important to consider the beliefs and behaviors of the Portuguese, as this study was conducted in Portugal. The word “service” is often perceived as “servility” throughout all layers of the organizations that, often, ends up with a wrong service mindset.
This research took place during an organizational culture redefinition of a fast food chain with around 3.000 employees and 156 restaurants, during the years of 2016 and 2017. The company is based on a result-oriented and detail-oriented organizational culture and needed to change to a more customer-oriented culture.
On the first year we focused on 19 pilot restaurants and on the second year we setup a training program for 137 restaurants and all the management teams. This training program focused not only on the already existing check lists and procedures, but it also provided employees with knowledge about hospitality and humanization.
We collected data from both employees and customers through 4 different surveys.
On year one we collected answers from 2.466 customers making personal interviews on site, based on 3 questions and we collected data from 721 employee’s trough confidential surveys with 8 questions to understand and measure the emotional connection to the company and restaurant and the maturity of their customer service perception.
On year two we collected 20.550 answers from customers and we trained and coached all the restaurant managers and sub-managers on how to do the internal survey, give feedback and implement behavioral changes.
The goal was to bring to the company a human dimension trough leadership, from the inside out, knowing that changing internal habits would be of a great value not only for the final Customer Service satisfaction and loyalty but also for employees’ commitment with the company.
We found, on year one, a direct relation between the employees’ emotional connection with managers and the company and customer satisfaction. Restaurants with servant leaders were having an amazing difference on customer satisfaction when compared with restaurants with a non servant leadership style. When measuring the Net Promotor Score (NPS) on the 19 restaurants on year one, the biggest gap between restaurants was from a NPS of -14% to a NPS 78%. After implementing new ways of leadership on the negative NPS restaurants we raised up to +30%.
We concluded that when leaders manage their teams with a service mindset that translates into a higher employee engagement and authenticity and thus a higher customer satisfaction.
Key Words: Service Culture; Leadership; Servant Leader; Customer Service; Organizational Culture