November 14, 2021

Rachel Strella

Why Taking Initiative is Fundamental to Service


Early this year, #Strella Social Media implemented a program within our team to reinforce our company’s four core values: Communication, Commitment to Excellence, Service, and Relationships.

We break each core value into action statements (behaviors) called “Fundamentals.” Each week, someone on the team owns a Fundamental. They take responsibility for instilling it across the organization, starting with a Sunday Fundamental kickoff email. Our blog post that features the Communication core value explains in more detail how the program works. You might also like to read up on the core value, Commitment to Excellence.

Today, I’ll share the Fundamentals related to our Service core value.

  • Make it simple for the customer.
  • Take ownership.
  • Be a problem solver.
  • Go above and beyond.
  • Follow up on everything.

Below is some insight our team has shared about them. 

5 Fundamental Behaviors that Showcase Exceptional Customer Service

Fundamental #1 – Make It Simple for the Customer

Our ultimate job is to produce results for clients while making it simple for them. While they need to be a partner in our efforts and supply the raw materials we need, we are here to do the heavy lifting so that they can focus on running their business.

There are a lot of details involved in social media management, but the customer doesn’t need to know every little thing. Whatever their preferences, they can have as much (or as little) of the nitty-gritty details that they want. Regardless, it’s our job to present information to them so that they can understand and immediately know the status of our efforts. 

For example, when providing analytics about how their social media content is performing, we can offer them a high-level overview of what types of posts are doing well. Or we can dig deeper and show them the exact posts that are giving them the most momentum.

All the Fundamentals within our Service core value help us make things simple for the customer so that they have an exceptional experience with us.

Fundamental #2 – Take Ownership

What does that even mean? That sounds like office-speak to me, and I tend to dismiss that stuff.  But this is serious. Taking ownership is important, and it directly impacts all team members involved in any given project. Taking ownership means taking responsibility, not just for your task at hand but also for the outcome of the entire project — and even the entire team’s success. It means caring about your work, the same way a business owner would. It’s about taking responsibility for the success of a project and working with the team so that all are successful.

Taking ownership means others can trust you to do the right thing — to commit to excellence in your quality of work — which ultimately elevates everyone on the team.

Pay attention to details, take your time to do things right — and don’t cut corners. Imagine it’s your business, and the success of your business and everyone who is part of the team depends on your commitment to excellence. Every project is “your baby.” 

In other words, be excellent! Doing an excellent job means making the client happy, and happy clients result in growth and a successful business!

Taking ownership also involves being proactive. Anticipate issues or problems and be ready to develop a solution. Taking ownership is about taking initiative, so let’s see what you got!

Fundamental #3 – Be a Problem Solver

I think this is one of the most important skills you can have as a working professional. In fact, in college, I was taught that the top skills employers look for in a candidate are critical thinking and problem-solving. Being able to problem-solve effectively is vital to success in the workplace and everyday life.

When I think of problem-solving, a few things come to mind. The first is the solution itself. 

  • Did you come up with a solution that makes sense for both you and the customer? 
  • Is it efficient and effective? 
  • Does it actually solve the problem at hand? 

These are a few things to consider. However, I think there is a lot more to problem-solving than simply finding a solution. A big part of problem-solving is taking initiative. When a problem arises, you must try and solve it on your own first before seeking the help of others. While it is sometimes tempting to turn to Rachel or someone else when an issue develops, we should try to tackle it on our own first to strengthen our problem-solving skills.

Of course, there are some issues you may not be able to solve on your own, and that’s okay. That’s what is so great about working on a team! Just make sure you have tried solving it on your own before seeking outside help. Taking initiative is a huge part of being a problem solver, and your clients and team members will thank you!

Fundamental #4 – Go Above and Beyond

Going above and beyond translates to doing your very best — not merely meeting expectations or doing the job to just get it over with. We should always look around and assess how we can contribute value to the bigger picture.

According to Word Hippo, some synonyms to help explain “going above and beyond” include:

  • Exceed expectations
  • Go the extra mile 
  • Outperform
  • Overperform
  • Transcend
  • Overdeliver

I believe that “overperforming” and “overdelivering” can lead to dangerous territory. You can go above and beyond without overdoing it! At the end of each day, I take a little of my own time to go back over the accounts I look after, and I do a “self-audit” to make sure I haven’t missed anything. We all know that technology has glitches, and so do humans, so I’d prefer not to have misses on my watch! Doing a self-audit is not an official task on my Trello board; I do it proactively.

Another example of how we can go above and beyond is to keep our eyes open for potential clients that could help Strella Social Media grow. Also, we can speak up when we recognize additional services that could benefit an existing client. Being invested in the success of the company will be rewarding for all of us.

Consistently offering value in our work builds trust and confidence in our peers and team members. They know they can count on us to do our work on time and with exceptional quality. 

Think about what you can do this week to go above and beyond!

Fundamental #5 – Follow Up on Everything

Personally and professionally, I've found that following up on everything helps keep the universe in good order. 

Why is following up so important?

  • Because people (clients, vendors, project partners, significant others, children, etc.) are busy and may let key deliverables or tasks slip through the cracks without a reminder of what's expected from them and when.
  • Because not everyone shares the same priorities as you. Therefore, to keep everyone on the same page, it's critical to reinforce timelines and expectations.
  • Because people have been burned before by professional service providers who missed deadlines and failed to communicate the status of projects. 

I find that when I follow up after submitting a client proposal, holding or attending a project meeting, sending questions to draw out information needed for an assignment, or completing draft content, it sets a precedent for ongoing collaboration and communication. 

As the writer of Fundamentally Different says, “Remember that we all live in an interdependent world. While our clients count on us to see that results are achieved, we’re dependent upon a variety of other people each doing their part so that we can ensure success. If anyone drops the ball at any point along the line, the promised result gets jeopardized. The rigor we bring to our follow-up can mean the difference between success and failure. Develop a habit of following up on all of your activities.”

I encourage you to follow up on everything. It requires some extra time, but I think you'll discover your clients will appreciate it — and it will make your work easier in the long run!

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos

You’ll notice that all these Fundamentals are intertwined, and they all share a common behavior: taking initiative. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Customer service is everyone’s job.” It’s not an activity that’s the sole responsibility of one department. Every one of us should be taking the initiative to serve the customer in the best ways possible. 

Can you think of a time you received outstanding service? I would love to hear about it. Leave us a comment with your experience!

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