There is a science and an art to developing service standards.
Customer experience is largely subjective and based on feelings. This means that you can’t be too prescriptive and specific with your service standards, because they will sound artificial and scripted. And you can’t make them too loose and vague, because they won’t be useful enough for your people.
I have worked with many companies to help them to develop and deliver their service standards.
Some companies have powerful service standards in place, they are the exception.
Many from small to large multinational companies with billion-dollar budgets poorly define service standards, or they do not define them at all. This means that they leave their service delivery, customer experience, and ultimately their business growth to chance.
For the minority of companies that have developed service standards, most are not based on customer research at all. Instead, they are developed through what I call ‘buttock research’, in other words, somebody pulling it out of their…ahem, backside! It’s meaningless.
If service standards don’t deliver what the customer wants, what is the point of having them? And if you don’t know what the customer wants, you can’t possibly develop relevant service standards.
When I started working for a major retail fuel company in Australia, I discovered they had a service standard that staff must use at least four words when greeting a customer. Why four words? Nobody knew, it was ‘buttock research’.
The staff hated the four-word greeting standard because when they were mystery shopped, they would get marked down if they only said “good morning”, they didn’t say four words and it wasn’t acceptable.
When I started to work with them, I asked them to show me the research where customers wanted to be greeted with at least four words. Of course, that research didn’t exist, so we removed the nonsense standard and changed to “when you greet a customer, look at them when you speak”, their results improved exponentially.
Service standards need to be measurable and observable behaviours, they also need to be taught easily and reflect how people learn. In my experience, many service standards tend to be too scripted, this is a turn off for customers. As a customer, you know yourself when staff are using a script and it feels unnatural. Ensure your standards set the expectation, but allow your people to act natural and be themselves.
Don’t leave your service standards to chance, research your customers, know what your customer wants and create the expectation for your people to provide consistent service each time a customer interacts with your business.