A great academic conference
In July 2019 I attended the Frontiers in Service conference at the National University of Singapore. At the time my role was Director Global Customer Services and I was keen to improve the quality delivered. There were several conferences but this one drew my interest as it was an academic conference and it would be attended by Ron Kaufman whose articles in the HBS Review and book UP Your Service! I had happily read. As it happened, on day one I was almost sitting behind him so we got to talk a bit.
This year the conference theme was Sharing Economy, Platforms and New Technologies.
On Day one, Jochen Wirtz (Professor of Marketing, National University of Singapore) gave the opening speech and introduced the keynote speakers of the day: representatives of the world best service companies i.e. Changi Airport, Singapore Airlines, DBS Bank. Today, Changi Airport is renowned for its unrivalled passenger experiences but also for Jewel, the world’s tallest and beautiful indoor waterfall on the landside of the airport. DBS story, not so well known to me, was impressive.
After a day of a lot of papers being presented, day 3 became memorable as it started with a keynote by Avi Liran (Chief Delighting Officer, Delivering Delight Pte. Ltd.) on the importance of delight and how to become a chief delight officer and create a better world. He did this really well and in a touching manner.
Anat Rafaeli, Professor of Industrial Engineering, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, shared the broad stream of emotions as part of service delivery and how new technologies offer exciting opportunities for measuring emotions in detail. It was a fascinating speech due to its truly scientific approach.
The last keynote was a session with Paul Jones, CEO of The Lux Collective, Ron Kaufman and Jochen Wirtz on how to instil a culture that has service excellence and innovation at its core. After decades in the travel business, this appealed to me a lot. The message was clear: look at all facets of the business to improve your service and, above all, everyone on the management team should be behind this. We probably all know examples where revenue first is more important than customer service which is sad given the academic evidence to the contrary.
These few days at the conference were really stimulating and energising on how to stage a service revolution. I befriended many of the attendees. All nice, very smart, and above all stimulating in their own way. It was sad to say goodbye even though we would try and stay in touch.