Most know that successful organizations have great customer service.
And we all know that it is our employees who take care of those consumers who pay the bills.
I find it interesting when I interact with an organization and employees are curt, uninformed or simply rude.
I seem to scratch my head and think, “how can you possibly have a profitable business with employees who chase customers away?”
Every organization should have a basic expectation for employees to provide good customer service.
Many businesses will define their standards of service as part of its customer service strategy, and train employees on how they are expected to behave when interacting with customers. This is also known as customer service standards.
But before we can discuss customer service standards, we first need to identify and understand the different customer groups.
Every organization has two kinds of customers:
External Customers: Those who purchase a product or service.
For instance, if you own a dry cleaner, the external customer would be anyone who pays for the dry cleaning service.
Internal Customers: Anyone within the organization who at any time, is dependent on anyone else within the organization.
For instance, Call center operators rely on working technology and if their technical issues are not addressed, they have a difficult time doing their job.
If you operate a call center, the employee who supports the IT function of your office would provide service to the employees who answer the phone.
For each of these customer groups, there are behaviors that can add to a positive service experience.
Following are some examples of service standards of behavior that will affect (if consistently demonstrated) great customer service.
Many of these standards can have measures attached to them for performance appraisal purposes.
This example can be used as a training tool and should be reviewed with the employee.
As with many training tools, it is always good to have the employee sign a copy and keep it in their file so there is a record that the expectation was discussed.
Customer Service Standards Example
- We will greet our customers in a courteous and professional manner.
- We will listen effectively to our customers’ requests and promptly take the necessary actions to assist them. We will keep our customers informed of unexpected delays in service.
- We will inform our customers of normal process time, when they can expect completion and any delays that may arise in the process.
- We will touch base with our customers to update them as to where we are in the process.
- We will respond to website questions/requests within 24 hours during normal business hours.
- We will respond to applicants (employee/volunteer) within 24 hours of normal process time to let them know when they can expect completion and any delays that may arise in the process.
- We will finish our encounters with our customers in a courteous and professional way.
- We will interact with each other in a courteous and professional manner.
- We will inform our internal customers of normal process time, when they can expect completion and any delays that may arise in the process.
- We will touch base with our internal customers daily, either by e-mail or phone, to update them as to where we are in the process.
- We will work to resolve issues with coworkers and other departments by discussing problems directly and working toward agreed-upon solutions.
- We will be considerate, cooperative, and helpful to every staff member to assure quality services.
- We will hold ourselves and each other accountable for addressing inappropriate comments and behavior.
- When at our desks, we will answer the phone within two rings.
- We will identify ourselves when we answer.
- We will listen to the caller’s request and assist the caller accordingly.
- If we cannot assist the caller, we will direct the call to the appropriate person. Before transferring the call, we will obtain the caller’s permission and provide the caller with the name and extension number of the person who will be helping the caller.
- We will obtain the caller’s permission before placing the call “on hold” by asking and waiting for a response before initiating the hold function.
- We will end the conversation in a courteous and professional way by thanking the caller. We will wait for the caller to hang up first.
- We will notify our customers that someone is unavailable by saying, “He/She is unavailable. Is this an urgent issue or may I take a message?”
- We will respond to voice mails within 24 hours during normal business hours.
- We will update our voice mail greeting, advising callers when we will be out of the office for an extended period of time (1/2 day or longer), informing callers of when we will return and who they may contact with questions (if applicable).
- We will respond to e-mails within 24 hours during normal business hours.
- We will update our e-mail notification message when we will be out of the office for an extended period of time (full day or more). We will indicate our expected return date and indicate a contact person (if applicable).
- We will make our goal to exceed the expectations of all of our customer groups.
- We will work to anticipate the needs of those we serve by proactively working to meet their needs.
- We will hold ourselves and each other accountable for our service commitment.
- We will be conscious of our communication style (ie; audible voice, eye contact when speaking to someone, tone of voice) and communicate in a professional manner.
- We will make a conscious effort to compliment coworkers when their actions comply with these standards.
I have read and understand the above Service Standards. I also understand that it is my responsibility to comply with the standards and that my performance appraisal will reflect my compliance.
Employee Signature: ______________ Date: __________
Tip: Use weekly or monthly staff meetings to highlight one of the standards. Discuss it and ask employees to give examples of how it can be used.
Business success depends on the care that is given to all customer groups. Invest the time to create service standards, and hold employees accountable for adhering to standards.
This is a basic management practice that should be incorporated into a structured performance management process.
What standards of service does your organization adhere to?
If you would like a copy of these service standards, click here.