Values-Based Service

My colleagues and I were in a client meeting a few weeks ago. Right after we presented our technology recommendations for the coming year and were just about to go into the budget portion (detailing significant investments over the course of the next 12 months), the Vice President of Administration interrupted us and signed off on a portion of our recommended projects. Right there. Just like that. It was the best service compliment I’ve ever received because it indicated pure trust, a true business partnership. It was a commendation  of the service we have been providing to the client and confirmation that values-based service is the best—and most profitable—service philosophy.

And it isn’t hard; at the core, it means doing what is best for the client, not what is best for your bottom line. This means that if a client approached us and asked if they should replace a server or a Storage Area Network (SAN) unit, we wouldn’t say yes because those pieces of equipment require many billable hours to install and integrate. We would evaluate the current piece of equipment to see if it could do its job(s) for a few more years because that is in the best interest of the client—and the client’s budget. Sure, we would lose a little money on this recommendation, but we gain trust for a sustainable, long-term relationship.

In 2007, the term “values-based service” was coined by a few researchers out of Sweden who studied IKEA and their values-driven service philosophy. Since then, many academics and business experts have suggested that aligning an organization’s values with service practices indicates long-term growth and success. There are many papers, books, and articles that analyze the best ways to do this. I think it can be made much simpler.

If your organization’s values indicate integrity and doing the right thing, your service philosophies should be guided by the following question: “What is in the best interest of the client now and in the future?”

If you are guided by the honest answer to this question, it will often mean you exchange immediate revenue for long-term trust. In my experience, though, long-term trust results in a continued relationship and quality referrals, which ultimately impact profitability and growth.

What do you think?

  • What are the barriers to using the question to guide all business decisions?
  • Do you know of an organization that does this extremely well? Poorly?


Topics: business, communication, customer service