WHILE leaders of organisations are aware that service excellence is their lowest cost and highest return investment, many do next to nothing about it.

By being complacent, they lose their customers' hearts rapidly and then wonder why their businesses are losing a share of their customers' wallets to their competitors.

If you are interested in creating a world-class culture of service excellence, consider the following best practices and implement them in your organisation immediately.

1. Engage a professional strategic consultancy

It is difficult for you to be entirely objective about your service standards. Therefore, it is almost impossible for you to coach yourself.

So engage a professional strategic consultancy to do a thorough analysis to benchmark where your organisation is at when it comes to service excellence, and where it needs to consistently be when it comes to service mindsets, skill sets and business sets.

2. Get a 360-degree service perspective

Get your professional strategic consultancy to organise focus groups to get a 360-degree internal and external perspective of your organisation's present service standards.

Factor in all points of view, uncover all preconceived notions and scoop out relevant service needs, wants and desires. And ensure that senior leadership is involved right from the start.

3. Design a fully customised service initiative

Factor in the service perspectives gathered and get your professional strategic consultancy to design a fully customised world-class service initiative for your organisation.

Ensure that it is aligned to your organisation's strategic vision, mission, values and targets.

4. Arrange for a strategic senior leadership service session

In this session, communicate the findings of your focus groups and introduce your new service initiative to selected key stakeholders.

Ensure that they appreciate the need for your new world-class culture of service excellence to succeed. Their feedback will allow you to modify and enhance your service initiative.

5. Implement service initiative across all levels

Implement your service initiative from the top down. As you do so, ensure you are getting buy-in across all levels of your organisation by assisting people to clearly appreciate what's in it for them.

6. Ensure senior leadership gets special coaching

While rolling out the initiative, arrange for senior leaders to get some professional service coaching to ensure they appreciate their role in "walking the talk".

This should involve having them certified as professional service champions to make it easier for them now and in the long run to keep improving your organisation's service standards.

7. Draw up post-service initiative continuous development plan

Once your initial series of service initiatives are completed, you need to make sure these initiatives become a vital part of your organisation's culture.

Ensure there is ongoing personal and team service coaching in the real work-based environment.

Keep service fresh in mind through a series of service keynotes on a bi-monthly basis to highlight the various facets and benefits of service. Place reminders everywhere to ensure your service initiative is kept visible and foremost in everyone's minds.

8. Create new service business sets

Your service initiative should have adequately created the right service mindsets and skill sets throughout your organisation.

To support these service mindsets and skill sets, you need to also create very clear operating standards, processes, systems, guidelines, rules and regulations that spell out people's job scopes, roles and responsibilities. This is what service business sets are all about.

9. Reward service excellence publicly

One of the most effective ways to create a world-class culture of service excellence is to publicly and punctually reward those who give great service.

When you do so, your organisation will start to create service legends and legacies that have a wonderful effect of promoting service continuity.

10. Embrace continuing service improvement

Create a system for both internal and external service suggestions.

Establish a service feedback mechanism and designate service champions who are tasked to enhance your organisation's service standards on a quarterly basis.

These 10 strategies will give you an effective structure to get started on creating your own world-class culture of service excellence.

So take the first step and reap the many tangible and intangible rewards that come with providing truly excellent service.