'Scrappy' Asean entrepreneurs urged to keep big promises

Corporate July 30, 2014 00:00

By Pichaya Changsorn
The Nation

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"Scrappy" Asean entrepreneurs need to learn how to make and keep their "big promises" to deliver world-class services, Ron Kaufman, a world-famous speaker and consultant on customer services, said last week.

From his experience working in Asean for more than two decades, he noticed Asean entrepreneurs are “streetwise” or scrappy, meaning they possess an ability to make things happen despite all the chaos or obstacles. 
They are also resilient, which means having an ability to bounce back even when the situation does not look so good.
But the weakness of Asean entrepreneurs is that, because they are in small markets, they have not necessarily adapted to global practices, especially on “making and keeping promises”.
“Scrappy don’t need to make big promises. They make little promises. But with AEC (Asean Economic Community), you’re going to see big competition coming in. You need to learn how to make bigger, more powerful promises, and how to keep promises,” he said. 
Kaufman is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues and Everyone Else You Meet”. He was speaking at a press interview on the sidelines of a workshop held by M Academy, a unit of Mc Thai, the operator of McDonald’s restaurants here.
Asean companies need to improve their service performances in various areas including speed, accuracy, dependability and accountability – all of which are not part of their traditional cultures. 
“As far as service culture is concerned, organisations need to pool their people together [who think] this is something we all need to do, this is not the boss or service department’s job, it’s not somebody else’s job, it’s ‘our job’.”
The biggest challenge in Thai companies delivering their services is “the lack of clarity about what is exactly going to be done, and by when, by whom”. 
“The intention and willingness to give good service is definitely there. But clarity of terms and the promises, and the fulfilling those terms and promises to meet the expectations, or even to exceed them, that’s an area that I see as not strong,” he said.
Thai firms should be bold on staging an aspiration to uplift their service standards to a global level. 
“For example, you look at Singapore Airlines, it’s a tiny country with five million people. Thailand has so many people and so much more land, but where is the brand? Is there a Thai brand that everybody around the world knows?”
At the workshop on the secrets of superior service, Kaufman said service excellence is a “moving target” because customer expectations are always rising. And to sustain their service excellence, firms have to build up their service cultures. 
That requires a provisioning of “actionable service education” to equip their staff with an ability to think and make good decisions without instructions from their bosses.
Service is about “taking actions to create value for customers”. 
“But the most important thing is not the action you take, but rather to find out who are they, what are their values, and thus you can deliver the experiences that they desire.”