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We often talk about the UK as a ‘Service Nation’, but what do we mean by this? For me, it is a way of encapsulating the world we want to see – one where the true value of service across all sectors and roles is widely recognised, and the service experience is understood and valued by the C-suite, the board and shareholders.

In recent months we are starting to see a rise in C–Suite turnover. I am always interested as to what drives this – a need for new horizons, new approaches and a change of direction – or a feeling that things aren’t progressing as we want? Whatever the drivers, those at the top of their organisations need to show service leadership. In this month’s blog post I consider what makes a good leader.

Typically, the best service leaders achieve results by being crystal clear about their purpose, balancing the competing demands and motivating their people. They don’t shirk responsibility, face into challenges and lead by example. It is also clear that those that demonstrate these qualities will ensure they and their respective organisations outperform in the long term.

Last week’s inflation figures, unchanged at 8.7% and with core inflation rising, rachet up the pressure on many leaders. Interest rates look set to continue rising in an effort to cool demand, and with rents heading ever northward, financial pressure on many consumers will intensify, squeezing the margins and market in many sectors.

However, this also presents an opportunity. Our last UKCSI showed that when organisations have proactively contacted customers with help and advice to deal with the rising cost of living it has resulted in increased levels of customer trust. Proactive communication with customers is most effective when it is relevant, timely and genuinely benefits customers. 

I think there has been a sea-change in the way people understand a leader’s role. When you strip everything else away, leadership is ultimately service: leaders should be there to serve. It’s a privileged role – and acting with integrity should be a given – but it is clearly becoming a more important ingredient for customers. And we are making more decisions based on ethics, perceived value and the customer ethos. The role of a leader is to execute on the plan and build long-term success and value to their organisation. In today’s world, that means for customers, suppliers, investors and society in general.

The best leaders will be focusing on the long-term strategic vision for their organisation. This means getting the right people with the right skills in place. It means strong risk management. It means staying true to your cause and doing what is right for the long-term prosperity of the business. I talk a lot about purpose, relevance and impact and never has it been more critical for a leader to demonstrate all three of these things.  

Jo Causon

Jo joined The Institute as its CEO in 2009. She has driven membership growth by 150 percent and established the UK Customer Satisfaction Index as the country’s premier indicator of consumer satisfaction, providing organisations with an indicator of the return on their service strategy investment.

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