Digital transformation has made ‘as-a-Service’ the next generation business model. I thought it only fitting to apply this naming convention to a discussion of business leadership; and how adopting a service orientation at the core of that leadership, provides businesses a framework for success and long-term market growth.
‘Service-oriented leadership’ implies a management style that is neither authoritarian nor hierarchical; rather interrelated and united in a state of 'oneness' for the greater good of the organization.
Fostering a supportive, service orientation internally, transcends the workplace by predisposing associates of the organization to a cultural ethic that translates in the business' performance externally. This external performance is the company's service footprint -its core values in action- manifested in the operating strategy.
In today's marketplace, it's service that builds brands.
With across-the-board quality and reliability, technology has become a commodity. Given this consistency, the differentiator -or competitive advantage- that determines market winners and losers is service quality.
Service implies ‘personalization’ – the ability to get what you need, as you need it when you need it. Next-gen technologies have created the ability to fulfill this need (product or service) at highly customized levels. ‘Service’ simplifies our lives and augments our lifestyles.
Regardless of the offering, it’s the assist that defines success. Consider vehicle repairs - we take our car to Dealer 1 instead of Dealer 2 because when we pick it up, it’s cleaned and washed at no charge. Dealer 1 may even charge a slight bit more, but this added service element is a welcomed convenience, saving time and maybe even money. But most importantly, it helps to simplify our lives. Herein lies the reason for the emergence in one-stop-shop popularity.
But what happens when the product/service fails? Handled properly, it can be a defining moment and improve a company’s reputation. How often have we experienced a product or service failure and had the problem so well addressed that we became immediate brand ambassadors? ‘Owning’ the issue -proactively taking responsibility for it and committing to correct it to the customer’s level of satisfaction- underscores the essence of service-based leadership. Subjugating the role of the organization to the needs of its customers places the needs of the customer first; facilitating a servant-leader relationship; fostering a servant-leader culture.
Walk the Talk
As a kid, I was taught that proper public behavior begins in the private confines of home. I think this tenet can be applied in business as well. Corporate pathologies steeped in dysfunction extend well beyond company org charts. Management philosophies that demonstrate hierarchical, compartmentalized ‘sink or swim’ attitudes, produce ‘an every person for him/herself’ culture. Interestingly, these are the cultures that often squawk the loudest on their commitment to “collaboration” and “partnership.” Such cultures are quick to point out how they are a team and that “there is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” While TEAM may indeed be their mantra, and in fact there is no ‘I,’ what they quietly reflect is that although, no ‘I,’ there’s an M and an E, and M-E is their M-O.
Conversely, a well-defined servant-leader philosophy adopted internally translates to a customer-centric, service-oriented support team, externally. By accepting the initial premise that technology has become a commodity and that ‘service’ is the battlefield upon which market share and customer satisfaction will be won; any philosophy other than servant-leader becomes a recipe for failure at worst, and reduced earnings at best.
Establishing a service-centric, customer value model may be the single most important investment a brand can make in today’s competitive business climate. In fact, according to a 2014 Gartner survey on customer experience, 89 percent of companies today compete primarily on service quality. That same study also states that while 80 percent of companies believe they deliver “super experiences,” only eight percent of customers agree. This gap creates a huge opportunity to gain market share.
Tech Data subscribes to a service-based, value partnership model. Our consistent ranking in the top 25th percentile of Fortune’s 500 largest U.S. companies underscores the value our partners place in us. As trusted advisor we offer a progressive, collaborative approach in helping our partners solve business issues; and we do it organically through leadership behaviors that support our mission, vision and purpose.
Recently, Tech Data reconfirmed its service commitment by articulating the fundamentals of its leadership philosophy. The attributes below establish the behavioral framework of that philosophy. They are supported by criteria that eliminate ambiguity and ensure the fulfillment of a customer-valued, service-centric culture:
- Demonstrate a conscious desire to help others succeed
- Foster genuine professional relationships that promote trust, empowerment and meaningful two-way communications
- Hold themselves and others accountable because they care about the growth and development of others and encourage everyone to reach their full potential.
Tech Data is committed to service excellence through its team of servant leaders. By educating employees, arming them with the data, information and ability to make the call at all levels, Tech Data demonstrates its long-standing commitment to the development of its employees; employees who serve as solution providers for the customers and ambassadors for the brand.
Tech Data’s ability to design and deliver new and creative solutions, combined with our competitive business and enablement programs, allow our partners to enhance their position of value for their customers, win more opportunities and drive increased profits. To learn more about Tech Data and how its vast resources of service support options and industry-leading solutions can help you, visit us online at www.techdata.com
About the Author
Steven Kelley is a senior marketing specialist for Tech Data in Tempe, Arizona. In his role, Steve manages the corporate blog, Authority, along with the company’s partner newsletter, The Power of Partnership. Prior to joining Tech Data, Steve managed the marketing, communication and PR duties for a range of businesses in the aviation, defense, energy, hi-tech, and healthcare industries. Steve’s background and profile can found on LinkedIn.