If you don’t have Service Standards, you don’t have consistency. Every employee will make up the behaviors they feel best fit the situation or the behaviors they have been taught to do in their last job that they were rewarded for. This may or may not be the right behaviors to represent your organization.
Many organizations do take the time to develop a core set of Values and share these with new employees in the onboarding process. Many times; however, that is the last employees see reference to these Values unless they are placed on a wall or a poster somewhere. Core values tend to be similar across most all organizations, typically they fall into the words of Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Openness, Work/Life Balance, and Inclusion. Values are important because they identify the type of culture the organization wants to have and lay a foundation.
Service Standards though are different than Values. Service Standards define the behaviors of how to live out the Values. Service Standards are actionable and measurable. Service Standards define expectations to all employees on how to serve their customers, both internal customers and external customers. In the Gallup survey on workplace strength, the number one question is: “Do I know what is expected of me at work?”
Many organizations don’t think about defining a key set of Service Standards as they are more focused on the product and all the systems and processes surrounding the product; such as, the inventory, positioning, tracking, and sales. Of course, these are important things, but most products today are commodity products and it’s hard to differentiate between them. The opportunity to differentiate and gain a competitive edge comes in the experience that surrounds the delivery of the product. And that’s where Service Standards play a key role.
What’s more important to your customers? Accuracy? Responsiveness? Courtesy? Efficiency? Helpfulness? These are all examples of Service Standards. Pick four behaviors that are most important to your customers, then prioritize them in order of importance. Teach all employees the four Standards and educate on how they apply to each specific job in the organization. Train managers on how to coach and counsel employees to the Standards. After a period of time, every department and every employee will know the expectations on the service delivery of the product. This will create a consistency and seamless experience that your customers can trust and rely upon, which will build their loyalty to you. And isn’t that what we all want? Loyal customers!