Facilitator, Detective & Plumber

The job description of a service professional


What does it take to be a great service professional? The answer: knowledge and mindset. A more than adequate knowledge of the product or service that you represent is indispensable if you want to quickly answer the majority of inquiries. Simultaneously, a solid mindset is needed to provide the best possible service. This mindset is the foundation of the way of working I promote, and which I like to squeeze in a simple three-word job description. You need to be a Facilitator, Detective and Plumber.

Danny Meyer, CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, has come to a similar conclusion. He states that service and hospitality are two completely different topics. While providing service is instrumental (e.g. warranty, a call center or online self-service), being hospitable is all about delivering a memorable experience. In Meyer’s words, it takes 49% skills (knowledge) and 51% hospitality (mindset) to set your business apart from its competitors.


SustainableX facilitatorIt all starts with listening. Being a facilitator means that you show true interest in your (potential) clients. Provide them a stage for an authentic and open dialogue. Encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences, and embrace their feedback – no matter how negative. Although messaging apps have gained popularity over public social media timelines, it’s advantageous when your clients speak out openly. That may sound like a serious threat to your reputation, but it isn’t. If you deal with it well, it creates a great opportunity instead! An opportunity to show not only them, but the whole world, that you care.


SustainableX detectiveHaving a good conversation alone is not enough though. In order to be of help to your clients, it is crucial that you understand the full context of a situation. This means collecting and analyzing all the information needed to make a proper assessment. What do you know about your client, and what is he or she in need of? Consult experts, ask questions, check the facts and never assume. Read between the lines – does your client have a point? Consider different perspectives, do not take things for granted, and be critical towards your brand’s products and services. When situations escalate, it is often because we failed to connect the dots.


SustainableX plumberWhen your bathtub is leaking and water starts pouring through your ceiling, a good plumber is the hero that will come to your rescue. Once the detective in you has found the root cause of a problem, the plumber in you steps in to fix things. Not quick and dirty, but for real. You’ll aim not only to fix it for this one client, but to prevent it from happening to any future client as well. This is where creativity comes in and where you need to think in options, rather than limitations. It often requires teamwork, since multiple disciplines may be needed to make things happen. It’s your (joint) tailored solution that makes all the difference here. Add value, make people happy, and get inspired to improve things. It will pay off in loyalty, retention, and a higher Net Promotor Score.

Job description of a service professional: you need to be a Facilitator, Detective and Plumber.

Facilitator – Detective – Plumber. See it as a mantra. When you have it top of mind with every single situation that you handle, you should be fine. Typically, being a successful facilitator is only the result of having been a proper detective and plumber. This phenomenon is also described in the book Social Media? Social Business! (2015) that I had the honor to contribute to.

In below keynote about social media servicing at KLM, I further elaborate on this mindset. And although the role of technology has evolved since, the mindset itself is still fully applicable. In fact, it applies to any organization and any touchpoint with frontline staff, both online and offline. First-line support may increasingly be replaced by bots, but everything beyond it still requires human skills.

Ready to dive in a bit deeper? Check out The Service Experience Alphabet ©, which covers 26 human characteristics that service bots don’t have.

Video recorded at the Marketing Rockstars Festival (renamed Fifteen Seconds) 2015 – Graz, Austria

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *