Ask Two Questions to Develop Effective Service Standards

Service standards grow out of the service vision. They illustrate how “The Acme Way” or “The IT Department Style” looks in thought and action everywhere – in the call center, on the sales floor, or in the check-out line. Behaviors that consistently breed customer loyalty won’t occur without standards and norms aligned with the service vision. Also, service vision breakdowns often happen at the intersection of two internal units that only care about their side of the equation. If there are precise, worked-out-in advance standards about inter-departmental operations and cooperation – and if units are held accountable for meeting them – you have a blueprint for efficient and effective execution.

The overall goal is consistent practice and aligned efforts. Such consistency – delivering on promises, again and again – builds trust in customers and helps cement their loyalty to the unit or organization. Service standards are the key 8 or 10 practices that are crucial to making the service vision come true for customers.

The following two questions can be asked to help develop more effective service standards:

1. What Do Customers Value? Begin by reviewing the primary customer loyalty drivers to ensure standards are built around performance factors that customer really value, not those that have little impact on whether they decide to keep doing business with you.

2. What is the Organization’s “Special Opportunity?” Service standards bring to life the “secret sauce” that makes a unit or organization stand out from its competitors. Start by asking where the opportunities exist for differentiation in serving customers or colleagues.

One of the key components, for example, of the Chip Bell Group – , our customer loyalty consulting firm was to model great services to our clients. One aspect of great service was the ease of access and the speed of responsiveness. Therefore, one of our CBG standards became:

Access that is easy, quick and perpetual; response that is stunning. 

If you described in two sentences one of your main service standards what would it be?


About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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