The third article in the series Radiating Customer Service.
A Customer Service Charter clearly outlines a company’s approach to customer service. It sets the expectations for everyone in the organization and what customers can expect from them.
We have learned that customer service involves everyone one in the organization and all have responsibility for: shared ownership, total customer management and a positive impact.
A charter for customer service usually includes these four elements:
1. Organization’s purpose for customer service
2. Principles or values within which service personnel are expected to operate
3. Standards as a benchmark against which actual performance may be measured
4. Measurements for success which give the basis for performance accountability
Customer Service Purpose
A customer service purpose gives everyone in the organization or in a team a sense of direction and a rallying call for action. Once understood each customer service personnel can then take ownership and translate the statement into their day to day practice. Here are a few examples of customer service missions:
• “To take ownership of each call, manage each request correctly, dispatch efficiently and communicate to ensure the customer’s complete satisfaction” A Call Center
• “To provide a positive, seamless, accurate experience for all internal and external customers; we do this to ensure the safety of the public.” A Professional Regulatory Body
• “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.”
• “At Sit ‘n Sleep, we believe that you, the customer, are our greatest asset. We are dedicated to creating positive experiences for you – both inside our stores and out….”
• “Irvine Scientific is committed to provide courteous, professional and superior service to our customers and internal departments that we are privileged to serve.”
• “Employees solve customer puzzles.” Best Buy
Customer Service Values
Values are statements of beliefs which we hold as having intrinsic worth and want to preserve. They are qualities we want to live by. Customer Service values express the way we treat customers. They are also the way we want to be treated. Here are some examples:
• Treat customers with dignity, respect and courtesy.
• Listen earnestly and objectively to the needs of customers.
• Respond to customers in a timely, efficient and responsible manner.
• Provide excellent customer service.
• We are committed to achieving the highest customer satisfaction.
Customer Service Standards
Customer standards are established to provide consistency in providing service. It is essential for delivering a product or service where quality is number one. The question is: How rigidly should customer service personnel follow the standard?
There are usually three types of standards:
• Rigid standards which allow for no deviation, for example: all telephone calls must be returned within two hours.
• Flexible standards which allow employees to adjust the standard based on guidelines, for example: all telephone calls must be returned within two hours however if time doesn’t permit because you are serving other customers then use your discretion in returning the call.
• Total discretion which allows employees to decide on the spot a best service solution, for example: the timing of returning a telephone call is left up to the employee as long as customers are satisfied
Writing down standards of service provides consistency in approach for all those involved and gives a basis for performance discussions with individuals as to how they are adhering to them.
Measurements for Success
Successful companies have developed dashboards to monitor customer service outcomes. They collect raw data and know how many customers were served, what they bought, what the return rate was on each product, where they live within their marketplace, whether they purchased on-line or in a brick and mortar retail outlet.
They also have developed systematic ways of measuring customer satisfaction for example: using surveys, focus groups, round table discussions with customers and employees, on the spot requests (i.e. stopping customers they shop and asking about their level of service satisfaction).
Successful companies also ensure employees receive on-going customer service training. Customer service training usually entails a review of the company Customer Service Charter, approaches to different types of customers, telephone and email etiquette, listening skills, dealing with difficult customer situations, dealing with customers with different cultural expectations, use of body language, and professional image.
Questions to Explore
Does our company or organization have a Customer Service Charter? If not, should we have one? Do we measure our customer service outcomes? Do we have a dashboard of raw data pertaining to customers? Do we have customer service standards? Does everyone know what they are? How do we know our customers are satisfied with our services? Do we have a consistent and regular customer service training program?
Thank you for Reading,
Richard P. Fontanie