How to Provide Customer Service Excellence

how is customer service excellence monitored and reviewed and customer service excellence best practice and customer service excellence benefits
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Prof.WilliamsHibbs,United States,Teacher
Published Date:28-07-2017
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How to Provide Customer Service Excellence A guide to help you on the excellence journey, to constantly push the bar to get even better at what you do Service excellence cannot be achieved in the short-term, nor can you ever truly say that you have ‘achieved’ excellence because it’s a journey not a destination; the quest for excellence will mean that you are constantly pushing the bar to get even better at what you do. This journey clearly requires a great deal of commitment on your behalf, but also from those who work with and for you. That is probably the real challenge in seeking to strive for service excellence: how can you get all your employees to really care, to really want to go that extra mile, to really believe in what you are trying to achieve? How to Provide Customer Service Excellence This guide is intended to help you strive for service excellence in your business and is prepared in line with the service excellence model. The content here will help you to reflect upon what you do already, and from that you will find areas where you can enhance your existing approach. 1. The External Customer ..................................................................................... 3 1.1 Commitment to Service Excellence ..................................................................................................... 4 1.2 Get as close as you can to your customers .......................................................................................... 5 1.3 Design your products and services to meet defined needs and expectations ......................................... 6 1.4 Deliver those products and services in a way that consistently exceeds expectations. ............................ 6 1.5 Introduce informal and formal feedback systems ................................................................................. 7 2. The Internal Customer ...................................................................................... 9 2.1 Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities ............................................................................................. 9 2.2 Provide appropriate and continuous training for all employees ............................................................. 9 2.3 Create a working environment which engages employees to the fullest extent .................................... 10 2.4 Measure employee satisfaction at regular intervals ............................................................................ 10 3. Standards of Performance .............................................................................. 11 3.1 Developing operational standards ..................................................................................................... 12 3.2 Implementing the standards ............................................................................................................ 15 3.3 Evaluating the standards .................................................................................................................. 15 3.4 Improving the standards .................................................................................................................. 17 4. Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................ 17 2 The guide is based on the service excellence model shown: The External Customer Achieving Service Excellence Standards of The Internal Performance Customer 1. The External Customer It is perhaps a cliché today to talk in These questions might seem to be terms of achieving total customer focus verging on ‘navel gazing’, but such but if you want to strive for service issues are vital if you really want to set excellence that is precisely what you your business apart from others in must attain. A good reflection point as terms of service quality. There are you start to analyse this particular many average businesses in all sectors process is to ask yourself some of tourism, but the number of truly though-provoking questions such as: outstanding companies is few. Therefore, the journey to excellence Would your customers miss your requires you to ‘think’ as much as it business if it were no longer around? does to ‘do’, and reflecting on what What would they miss about you? makes (or can make) your business special and unique is not time wasted, Would they easily find a replacement but time saved because based on the offering? answers you find to such questions, you will do more of the right things in Does interacting with your business future. make a real (and noticeable) difference to their lives? In terms of practical steps you can take Why do they choose you over others or to achieve total customer focus, others over you? consider the following points: 3 1.1 Commitment to Service Excellence The starting point in any attempt to situation where you have some people ‘rise above the norm’ is to demonstrate who are truly committed to service a real commitment to that aim. excellence and others who care Undoubtedly, you are committed to moderately, or worse still, little at all. that end, but are each and every one of your employees equally as If you find this is a problem in your determined, no matter how many you business, then you need to address have? Of course, commitment levels that concern urgently. Some things you will vary but you cannot tolerate a can practically do here: “Quality in a Sit with your employees to discuss what your business and service goals are, service or how they can contribute and what the likely benefits are to all concerned for product is not trying to be better at what you do. what you put Together with them, develop a ‘Service Promise’, or similar, which captures a into it. It is shared vision of what you all want to achieve in terms of service quality. what the Communicate that promise widely to employees and customers. client or Allocate individual responsibilities for elements of the drive towards service customer gets excellence. For example, you might appoint an ‘ideas team’ which would explore out of it.” things that you could do to enhance service, or you could have another group Peter Drucker, working on how to reduce complaints in the business. No passengers allowed on the journey. management consultant Set clear service goals (collective and individual) to provide tangible targets related to your Service Promise; for example, you could have a target to reduce complaints, increase repeat business volumes, raise customer satisfaction levels and so on. And yes, by all means reward people when those challenging targets are achieved, but don’t fall into the trap of rewarding your employees for what they should be doing anyway – only above the norm performance should be rewarded. Discuss service quality at every meeting or briefing you ever have, make it the norm to talk about the Service Promise, and don’t only focus on service issues when something ‘goes wrong’. Talk a lot about the journey, the promise, the goals, the achievements – make it part of everyday life. Finally on this point, never tolerate individuals who do not share your commitment and that of the wider team. By all means coach and support them to see if they can improve, but do not allow them to tarnish the efforts of others indefinitely. 4 1.2 Get as close as you can to your customers This again sounds like an obvious point Even harder to discern are individual but service excellence demands that needs, but if you are serious about you first know your customers’ needs excellence then at the very least your and expectations better than anyone regular or repeat customers will expect else. Yes, some common needs you to remember their likes and are obvious, but needs by segment dislikes. Practical things you can do are less so. here include: “The more Define your key customer segments and attribute an overall value to each in you engage terms of what they generate for the business. Which segments deserve most attention? with customers the Hold regular focus groups with customers from these segments to better clearer things understand their needs. become and Conduct wider online/email surveys with larger number of customers to get a the easier it is broader view of needs. to determine Have effective feedback mechanisms, for capturing complaints, and for what you gathering general satisfaction data; analyse this information regularly in a should be meaningful way to identify areas for improvement. doing.” Have systems for capturing and sharing the preferences of existing customers so John Russell, that you can wow them with your tailored service. President, It is only by taking proactive action that you can get closer to your customers and if Harley you don’t do so then striving for service excellence is impossible. Davidson 5 1.3 Design your products and services to meet defined needs and expectations Of course, there can be challenges for and products you currently have are of small businesses in terms of product the highest quality and not looking development, but even without jaded or tired. On the service side, it’s spending large sums on capital often the little things that matter, so investment you can still enhance tailoring your service to different your offering. On the product side, segments doesn’t have to be a costly at an absolute minimum, you undertaking. Some practical actions should ensure that whatever facilities here include: “The first step Get staff directly involved in this area. They interact with your customers every in exceeding day and they can often identify small but meaningful product or service your enhancements. customer's Explore what other businesses are doing, both direct competitors and even those expectations in other industries. However, be careful here that you don’t end up being a follower rather than a leader when it comes to new ideas. is to know those expectations.” Roy H. Williams , author and marketing consultant 1.4 Deliver those products and services in a way that consistently exceeds expectations No matter what your specific offering when it comes to service delivery; are entails, it’s how you deliver it that they truly proactive and anticipative of really matters. The issue of service customer needs, or do they simply standards will be addressed later react to customer’s requests? What but for the moment you should might you do to improve on the current reflect on the mindset of your people situation? 6 1.5 Introduce informal and formal feedback systems As touched upon earlier, achieving comment cards, which in reality are service excellence is dependent upon never truly analysed. That is not to you truly understanding how you are infer that comment cards cannot be an doing in terms of service quality, and effective tool, but only as part of a acting upon that feedback to resolve wider feedback system, and certainly problems and enhance what you offer. only when analysed and acted upon on Some companies pay lip service to this a daily basis. Some practical points to area and use token gestures such as bear in mind here include: Employees receive informal feedback on a daily basis, how is that information captured and then actioned in your business? What information do you want from your customers, what is valuable to you? Whatever combination of feedback mechanisms you use, don’t overload your customers with pointless questions, or make it cumbersome for them to help you improve. Use a mix of feedback mechanisms from telephone follow-up calls, surveys, interviews and comment cards so that you get data from all segments. As part of your thinking here, do you again. Reichheld wondered whether it know about the Net Promoter Score was possible to get similar results in (NPS)? The Net Promoter Score is the other industries — including those result achieved when you survey your more complex sectors than car rentals customers with the “would you — by focusing only on customers who recommend?” question. The concept provided the most enthusiastic was first developed by Frederick F. responses to a short list of questions Reichheld from Bain & Company when designed to assess their loyalty to a he was examining the issue of company. He wondered whether the customer satisfaction measurement. He list could be reduced to a single found that many customer satisfaction question. And if it could be, what surveys weren’t of much use because would that question be? they were often too long or cumbersome, with low response rates It turned out that yes indeed a single and so on. survey question could serve as a useful indicator of business growth. But that Whilst exploring the issue, he found question wasn’t about customer that one company, Enterprise Rent-A- satisfaction or even loyalty, or not in so Car, used two simple questions to many words. Instead, it was focused measure feedback: one about the on a customer’s willingness to quality of their rental experience and recommend a product or service to the other about the likelihood that the someone else. Reichheld found that in customer would rent from the company most of the industries he studied, the 7 percentage of customers who were our company to a friend or colleague?” e nthusiastic enough to refer a frie nd or you identify three types of customers: colleague — perhaps the strongest sign of customer loyalty— correlated Scoring 1-6 = Detractors directly with differences in growth rates Scoring 7-8 = Passives among competitors. Scoring 9-10 = Promoters So, that’s where the NPS concept came Then, when you subtract the from, and it’s easy to calculate. When percentage of 0s to 6s from the you ask the question of your percentage of 9s and 10s, that gives customers, “On a scale 0-10, how you your NPS score as the diagram likely is it that you would recommend below (from netpromoter.com) shows: Using Customer Satisfaction as a focus. You will do so because through measure is obviously fine, but what your Service Promise they will Reichheld’s research showed was that understand what you are committing to ‘satisfaction’ is not necessarily an in terms of service. indicator of ‘loyalty’ and it’s the latter that actually drives business growth. The main reasons that NPS is growing in popularity as an indicator is that: feedback It’s easy to understand and calculate; It has been shown that ‘loyalty’ is an You on the other hand will better indicator of likely future behaviour; understand your customers because you will be closer to them and more And customer loyalty levels are shown able to tailor your offering to suit their to be correlated to business growth needs. And via a meaningful feedback levels. system you will always know how you are performing in relation to the By addressing the above points you expectations of your customers. will, over time, increase your customer 8 2. The Internal Customer Naturally, you cannot strive for The issue of their commitment was service excellence without the touched upon earlier but additional input of all your employees. concerns here include: 2.1 Clearly Define Roles and “If you’re not Responsibilities serving the customer, It is vital that all employees understand of them. For example, if they are what is expected of them in terms of expected to participate on service your job is to service delivery so that there are no excellence teams of one sort or be serving grey areas as to who does what. another, then that must be made clear to them. Equally, if you want new ideas someone who As a rule, every employee should be from employees, is that optional or empowered as much as possible so should they be expected to come up is.” that your customers never hear with one new idea a month? Jan Carlzon, something like “I cannot help you with that, you’ll have to speak to…” Additionally, they should fully former understand the internal customer president of Also, in relation to how they contribute concept whereby they recognise that to the wider service excellence effort, they are all interdependent upon each SAS, employees must know what’s expected other to do their jobs effectively. Scandinavian Airlines 2.2 Provide appropriate and continuous training for all employees It goes without saying that training and There is nothing worse for an development are vital cogs in the experienced employee than having to wheel when it comes to aiming for sit through a basic service course with service excellence. But, regardless of new starters. Too often, little thought the numbers of employees you have, is given to the content and delivery of as far as is possible, the content of on- and off-the-job training and you training needs should be tailored to the should ensure that the investment you experience levels and needs of make in this area is delivering the employees. highest return possible. 9 2.3 Create a working environment which engages employees to the fullest extent A separate It is useful to read the ‘How to Recruit environment which encourages guide on How and Lead your Team (guide)’ to get employees to see customers as ‘theirs’ to Recruit and some insight into how to lead and and not just ‘yours’. Not easy to Lead your engage your employees for best effect. achieve in practice but essential if you Team is Your goal in relation to service are to truly deliver excellent service to available on excellence is to create a working your customers. the Business Tools page “I insist that we continually ask our staff for any suggestions they might 2.4 Measure employee satisfaction at have.” regular intervals Richard Just as you measure customer provide you with meaningful and Branson, satisfaction levels, so too is it important actionable feedback in areas such as founder, to gauge how your employees are how they view leadership, feeling about their work. communication, teamwork, working chairman conditions and so forth, so that you Virgin Group Again this does not have to be c a n identify and address blockages a complicated process but it must which are reducing engagement levels. 10 3. Standards of Performance Naturally, the standard of service in However, it is the overall pattern of any business will fluctuate to some quality which matters and a good way degree on occasion; perfection is a of describing fluctuations in service worthy goal but it is impossible to get it delivery is to view it as being a quality right every time because you are, after continuum, based on your ability to all, only human. respond to customer expectations: Service Service Service   Below Meets Exceeds Expectations Expectations Expectations Naturally, you want your service to need Operational Standards/Standards exceed expectations for as much of the of Performance (SOPs) of some kind. time as possible but even to ‘meet The following is a four part approach to expectations’ you must have a defined developing, implementing, evaluating way of doing things and for that you and improving operational standards. 11 3.1 Developing operational standards At its simplest, a Standard is an organisation (customers, suppliers, agreed, repeatable way of doing etc.). something: it’s a goal if you like. The Procedure is then the ‘how to’ in order Establishing operational standards and to achieve the standard. Operational making them integral to how your standards (Standards of Performance) business operates will take time. You are those standards which are need to develop a careful, well- recognised by your business as thought-out approach that recognises: important enough to be published and monitored for continuous The different types of services and improvement. They relate primarily to customers you have; service, and contain precise criteria “The greater Your knowledge of how your people designed to be used consistently as a danger for currently perform; and rule, guideline, or definition. most of us lies Your ability to monitor performance Operational standards help to make life against standards. not in setting simpler and to increase the reliability our aim too and the effectiveness of many practices that guide you and the services you high and provide. They are intended to be However, rather than wait until falling short; aspirational - a summary of best complete and ‘perfect’ standards are practices rather than general practice. developed, you should develop your but in setting Standards are created by bringing operational standards progressively. our aim too together the experience and expertise Publish standards in areas of greater low, and of all interested parties, within and, importance or impact first, i.e. those where appropriate, outside the critical for operational success. achieving our mark.” Michelangelo, Italian Use the SMART acronym when developing standards: sculptor, painter and Specific: A specific, clear standard has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general one. architect Measurable: Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each standard defined. Attainable: When you identify standards that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them happen. Realistic: To be realistic, a standard must represent an outcome toward which you are both willing and able to work. Timely: A standard should be grounded within a time frame, i.e. it must relate to the now with a view to the future. Initial standards may be incomplete or embryonic in some aspects. As you gain experience, you can improve these standards and extend the range of services they cover. 12 It is important to recognise that a break with your family and you made standards of performance are not a call to a self-catering provider in the plucked from thin air but are simply area you wanted to stay to make an devised directly in response to enquiry. The first ‘moment of truth’ customer expectations. They are based between you and the self-catering staff on key interactions you have with your would be in how the call was handled. customers. Let’s work through a simple What would you expect as a customer? example. Imagine you were planning You might look for the following: Handling a Telephone Enquiry/Reservation General Expectation As part of this, you might expect that: • Your call will be answered promptly and an appropriate greeting will be given by the employee. • Your requirements will be clearly established by the You might expect employee and options to meet those needs will be that your call will be dealt with in a explained. friendly and • The employee will demonstrate good knowledge of  positive manner what is on offer at the property/area and that the and that your correct rate will be quoted, with what it includes booking will be dealt with explained to you. professionally and • If you decide to proceed your booking will be taken efficiently efficiently by the employee and the method of confirmation will be explained to you. • You will be thanked for your business. You get the picture at this point. You If you were the self-catering business expect certain things to happen when owner or manager, how might you set you call the self-catering operator and about meeting these particular none of them are earth-shattering, but expectations for that element of the they all combine to make that part of customer’s service journey? You might the experience memorable for a first start by agreeing the standard moment. (goal) with your employee(s) for Handling Enquiries and Reservations Now, let’s switch hats for a moment. which could be as simply put as: Our Standard Is: To handle all calls in a friendly and positive manner and deal with customer enquiries and reservations professionally and efficiently which shows them that we value their business Now, to achieve that standard, you need a ‘how to’ or a procedure to follow which for simplicity’s sake might include the following steps: 13 How to achieve our Standard: 1. Answer all calls promptly and give an appropriate and warm greeting, providing your name, and the name of our business. 2. Establish the caller’s requirements and explain what options we have to meet those needs. 3. Demonstrate that you have good knowledge of what we offer and ensure that you quote the correct rate and explain what it includes. 4. If they wish to proceed, take the booking in an efficient manner and explain the method of confirmation required to them. 5. Explain our cancellation policy and outline any restrictions that may apply to that rate/booking. 6. Repeat the full details of the reservation back to the caller in order to ensure that no mistakes or confusion exist. 7. Explain our main facilities and offer the caller directions to find us, or offer other assistance as required. 8. Make sure that, at all times, you show by your approach to the caller that we really value their custom. 9. Always be friendly, helpful and efficient throughout the call and never rush the caller; if you are very busy, offer to take their number and call them back within 15 minutes. Then, make sure this happens. 10. Always end the call in a friendly way, thank the caller and tell them you are looking forward to their arrival. This is just one example of how a from initial contact to end of service. standard and procedure for a small Identify the customer expectations business may be written but the key associated with each of those point to bear in mind is whatever interactions. model you use, keep things simple and build the number of documented Develop a standard (goal) for each standards over time. interaction which responds to the expectations. The key phases in the standard setting process include: Agree a procedure to be followed to Identify all key moments of achieve the standard for each truth/interactions with your customers interaction. 14 3.2 Implementing the standards Operational standards are intended to By including your employees in the let your people know the level of standard setting process in the first performance expected of them but place, you will find that there are fewer they will only be fully implemented if problems with implementation because you provide on-going training and they understand the rationale for the coaching for employees so that they standards and as they essentially can consistently apply the standard. developed them, they do not feel they Equally, day-to-day supervision must have been imposed upon them. ensure that employees are actually following agreed procedures every time There is ‘ownership’ there which they perform a particular task. facilitates implementation.  Setting customer-driven standards and measuring how well your business is doing is a continuous process  3.3 Evaluating the standards You will need to develop ways to to use a checklist or audit of the measure your performance against standards and track performance over standards, and monitor performance time – often employees can self-assess constantly. Setting customer-driven their own performance and when they standards and measuring how well don’t fear the consequences they can your business is doing is a continuous be surprisingly honest and accurate. process and it should quickly identify problems with customer service. All Then, action plan any areas for parts of the business should be improvement identified to eliminate the involved in finding solutions to these problem from recurring. problems and discussing these solutions with customers, where This can also be done through more appropriate. formal and independent internal and external quality audits, mystery guest There are a number of measurement surveys and simply by listening to your tools you can use. One effective way is customers. 15 Here is how you can convert the procedures you develop into checklists, based on the example from earlier: Poor Excellent 1 2 3 4 5 Key Steps 1. Answer all calls promptly and give an appropriate and warm greeting, providing your name, and the name of our business. 2. Establish the caller’s requirements and explain what options we have to meet those needs. 3. Demonstrate that you have good knowledge of what we offer and ensure that you quote the correct rate and explain what it includes. 4. If they wish to proceed, take the booking in an efficient manner and explain the method of confirmation required to them. 5. Explain our cancellation policy and outline any restrictions that may apply to that rate/booking. 6. Repeat the full details of the reservation back to the caller in order ensure that no mistakes or confusion exist. 7. Explain our main facilities and offer the caller directions to find us, or offer other assistance as required. 8. Make sure that, at all times, you show by your approach to the caller that we really value their custom. 9. Always be friendly, helpful and efficient throughout the call and never rush the caller; if you are very busy, offer to take their number and call them back within 15 minutes. Then, make sure this happens. 10. Always end the call in a friendly way, thank the caller and tell them you are looking forward to their arrival. This simple checklist could be used by employees themselves to rate their own performance, or you could give all your ‘moment of truth’ checklists to an external mystery guest (a friend perhaps, to save you money) who could rate the guest experience for you. There are many ways you can measure the quality of your service experience without it being overly expensive. 16 3.4 Improving the standards Based on your ongoing measurements deliver better service. you will identify areas for improvement Templates on and these will allow you to address To support you in developing or developing shortcomings, or set higher and higher revising SOPs for your business, Fáilte standards are operational standards designed to Ireland has developed Operational available on maximise customer satisfaction. By Standards Templates for food the Business consulting customers, monitoring production and food and beverage Tools page performance and encouraging service, as part of the suite of Business innovation, you will be able to Tools. 4. Conclusion There is no pretence that striving for commitment, a structured approach, service excellence is easy, but it is engaged employees and total customer possible to excel as many small and focus. The principles described here large enterprises have shown to be the are readily applicable in any business case. However, it is a longer term and should help you to revise and journey, one fuelled by passion and enhance your existing approach. 17 This guide has been provided to you as part of Fáilte Ireland’s suite of guides and templates in the Business Tools resource. Please note that these resources are designed to provide guidance only. No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting, or refraining from action, as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by Fáilte Ireland. The user shall not market, resell, distribute, retransmit, publish or otherwise transfer or commercially exploit in any form any of the content of this guide. For a full version of the disclaimer, go to the Fáilte Ireland website. Fáilte Ireland 88-95 Amiens Street Dublin 1 www.failteireland.ie © Fáilte Ireland 2013 BT-PSE-C5-0913-4 18

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