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Building a service culture

This is the second in my series of three blogs about the services offered by sooth consulting. In the first blog I talked about service experience, in this blog I’ll talk about culture and in the final one I’ll discuss performance improvement.

The culture in any service or operational environment is critical for so many reasons:

  • Enabling the service strategy delivery

  • Engagement and retention of your people

  • Managing your cost to serve

  • Enabling the delivery of change to people and customers

  • A continuous improvement ethos

There are countless articles about why building the right culture is important. And it is. Most articles discuss culture at a company level. I’m interested in building and developing culture within operational teams, where employees are often treated differently from the rest of an organisation - more controlled, more measured and more limited in their involvement in the development of process, products and services.

I don’t need to tell you about how difficult recruitment is right now and it being a candidate's market. But with that backdrop, service culture is even more important. If you‘re recruiting people into your operational teams the interview process is where you should start to build the culture - the language, the (in)formality of the interview, the questions you ask and don’t ask and how much you talk versus the person sitting in front of you!

As I said above, often operational teams are treated differently to other teams across an organisation - this is something I just don’t get and it frustrates me. Assuming you employ adults, means they can be treated like adults, meaning important factors such as trust, opportunities to develop and a variety of work should be available to them. These are ‘freedoms’ (if that’s the right word) people in other teams have available to them so why not in service and operational environments?

At Pure Planet I was lucky enough to be there from the start and in line with the company culture, I built the culture across the operational teams that fitted the vision of what work could be like. This meant we did many things differently:

  1. We had one service team, even when it was 100 people, not individual teams

  2. We didn’t have any individual targets - it was a shared service target

  3. We frequently rotated people around activities and roles

  4. We ensured our collective goals drove cross-team support

  5. Anyone could instigate and manage an improvement

This approach led to amazing results. The team won a number of awards for the service they delivered. The team was effectively self-managing, self-supporting and happy to help and give feedback to each other - the good stuff and also when things didn’t go right. That adult approach meant everyone cared and everyone got stuck in. This collective approach kept us all aligned on what needed to be done and the way in which we did it - our culture.

To bring this to life for those who love a stat:

  • Attrition: annualised attrition less than 6%

  • Absence: annualised sickness less than 2%

  • Variety: over 25% of the team rotated activities or roles in 12 months

  • Contact: propensity to contact consistently less than 9%

  • Which? Recommended two years running

This is just a snapshot of some of the things we did, how we worked and the results we achieved - as you can imagine there is a lot more to it that can be written in a blog!

If you’re interested in having a conversation about your culture and how we might be able to support you to develop it further, just get in touch.

Let’s speak soon.

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