1,000 Coor staff go back to school

Coor knows the secret to great service. We work alongside our customers on the basis of a shared vision, and strive to turn this vision into it a reality that we can then improve further. It may sound simple, but the difficulty lies in actually delivering this every day and in every customer meeting. This is the rationale behind Coor’s Service Excellence concept aimed at Coor staff.

Ludovic Björk, Coor's Project and Sales Manager at Coor in Sweden, will soon have introduced 1,000 employees to the Service Excellence concept.

"Everyone who works at Coor works with people, regardless of their position. This means that it's just as important that the management work with the concept as the service staff. The intention is that as people become more familiar with the concept and talk about it, the more of a reality it will become."

This is primarily about group dynamics, about sharing a collective vision. We must be in agreement about the customer's expectations, but also about what we expect from each other. During the introduction to Service Excellence, the group is provided with the tools to determine how its members need to act in its relations with customers and colleagues. The group of employees then sets its own "high/low-level," a level that everyone in the group agrees on.

"Work with group dynamics ensures that the customer receives the same treatment regardless of who they come into contact with at Coor," commented Ludovic Björk.

The introduction includes gaining important insights into how Coor employees can influence the situation themselves and that service is an active choice. For Ludovic, the definition of service is a willingness to help—with a smile.

"Everyone needs to understand that they can make a difference every time they meet a customer. When they become aware of the influence they exercise through their attitude and approach, most people's eyes are opened and the focus then shifts towards the detail."

Each participant receives a service card that serves as a reminder in their daily work and in meetings with customers and colleagues. Some place their card somewhere where they can see it, others keep it in their pocket so that they can just touch it to recall the points on the card. Campaigns are another important tool, when the group focuses on something specific for a limited period. The group chooses what to focus on from a deck of cards of proposals. Each campaign has a specific purpose and goal and is followed up afterwards.

"The intention is for each group to complete at least four campaigns each year. This is an opportunity for the group to work actively together, but also to see how changing their behavior affects the customer's views. It spreads like rings on the water," commented Ludovic.

But service is a perishable good, and if you stop talking about it, service levels quickly decline. It's enough for a single person to be replaced to change the entire group dynamic, and this process is about the group. This means that its important to keep going over what needs to be done and why.

"There's a proverb that says that repetition is the mother of knowledge. If we're not reminded why we need to do things in a certain way, we start doing them on autopilot.

The overall response to the service concept has been positive and Ludovic thinks that the staff's and managers' commitment is key.

"The aim is to achieve a high and sustained level of service delivery based on customer expectations, and it's our job to find out what those expectations are. The service level must never vary just because someone else is delivering the service."