Creating Customer Service Standards for Your Organization
If you are on a journey to create a better customer experience for your business or nonprofit – you are in the perfect place for your critical first step – creating a unique set of Customer Service Standards.
This blog is the second post in a four-part series on Customer Service this month.
Customer Service Standards
Before we dive in on creating Customer Service Standards, let’s back up and start with – what are Customer Service Standards?
Customer Service Standards are a set of guidelines in a business that dictates how the team should provide service to customers. Customer service standards that I have encountered in my career journey are usually boiled down to simple words and phrases the team can remember and execute. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
At Walt Disney theme parks, the customer service standards are:
Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency – over the years, the way cast members are taught to deliver these have changed, but basically, they break down like this.
· I practice safe behaviors in everything I do
· I take action and always put safety first
· I speak up to ensure the safety of others
· I project a positive image and energy
· I am courteous and respectful to guests of all ages
· I go above and beyond to exceed Guest Expectations
· I stay in character and perform my role in the show (everyone at Disney has a role in the show – from the parade performers to the janitor.)
· I ensure my area is show-ready at all times
· I perform my role efficiently so guests get the most out of their visit
· I use my time and resources wisely.
That sounds pretty basic, right – Disney is a customer service GIANT, but they sum their customer service standards into four words and ten bullets.
Let’s look at a few more companies.
I spent a good portion of my career working at Advent Health. Advent Health is a large multi-state hospital system headquartered near Orlando, Florida. They changed their brand in a big way back in 2018 to be consistent across their hospitals, physician practices, and urgent care offices nationwide. With this change came a new set of customer service standards for the entire organization.
AdventHealth employees are called to treat patients as they would their own family members.
· Keep Me Safe: We prioritize patient safety, including protecting patient confidentiality.
· Love Me: We treat others with uncommon compassion, fairness, and respect.
· Make it Easy: We look for opportunities to assist others and collaborate to find solutions.
· Own It: We are positive, aim to exceed expectations, and follow through with commitments.
Notice how these standards focus on fundamental aspects of the healthcare journey – safety, confidentiality, acceptance, and simplicity.
Finally, I wanted to share the customer service standards for Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A calls their customer service standards The Core 4. The Core 4 are the non-negotiable items for their team members.
· Create eye contact
· Share a smile
· Make personal connections
· Speak with Enthusiasm
After The Core 4, they have a concept they call Second Mile Service. This has a biblical connection – which isn’t surprising for Chick-fil-A. It comes from Matthew 5:41 – “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
The second mile calls Chick-fil-A employees to go above and beyond the basics of The Core 4. This is the way they look for opportunities to surprise and delight their customers.
Developing customer service standards is an essential first step in creating a customer service culture for your organization.
Creating Customer Service Standards for Your Business or Nonprofit
So how do you do that? I have four tips that you can use to work on a set of customer service standards for your business or nonprofit.
1. Dream about the customer experience you want. Jot down a few ideas about the experience your customer should have every time they encounter your organization. What emotions do you want them to feel? Consider good customer experiences you have had – what was done to make you feel special. Think about how much time your team spends with a customer. What customer satisfaction experiences can they provide during the transaction and still get the job done.
2. Research from the best! As you can see, many of the customer service standards from the three examples I shared today – genuinely aren’t rocket science. Smile – Make Eye Contact – Look for ways to go above and beyond – treat people with respect or like family. Think about a company you admire. Check out how they provide service.
· I’m not saying to copy 100%
· I fully believe that customer services standards need to adapt to your organization and business situations. They need to be customized to what you do.
· When I worked with a client on creating standards for their organization, we looked at other companies with similar processes. The client wasn’t a fast-food chain, but hundreds of people came through their operations in a day. So looking at Chick-fil-A or other high-volume businesses was helpful.
3. Define what you are up against. If you are Disney World or the Ritz Carlton – chances are people are pretty excited to walk into your door. They are on vacation! They are ready to have fun and relax. If you are running an insurance company, a government agency, a doctor’s office – you are going to encounter people in a very different place when they come in the door or call your team. Your customers might not be happy when you encounter them. They might have just had an accident or need to file a claim. They might be coming in to pay a bill. Or they could be feeling sick and are having a crummy day. As you think about your standards – be sure you understand the strong feelings you may have to overcome to ensure your customer has a good experience.
4. Keep it simple. Everyone at every level is going to need to understand and implement these service standards. Don’t make them wordy, complex, or difficult to implement. You need to make this simple for your team to get results.
I want to offer a quick word about simplicity. I know some of you might be thinking – “Really, I have to teach people to smile at my customers? That sounds so basic.”
It is basic – and if you want it to happen with every customer every time – you have to include it in the service standards. It won’t happen by accident.
If you take nothing else away from today’s information on customer service standards, remember this.
Customer Service is for Everyone in the Organization! Customer service is not just for the front-line staff.
No matter how much you are paying your staff, everyone needs Customer Service Training. If you think that your highly paid staff will know to do this stuff on their own – you are wrong. I’ve encountered physicians who have terrible customer service skills and no desire to learn them. You’ve probably experienced it too. In healthcare, it’s sometimes called a poor bedside manner – but it’s actually poor customer service.
You can google all these customer service standards, and I’m going to include some links in the comments to a couple of places where you can see them and learn a little more.
But in addition to just knowing the standards, I’ve had an opportunity to experience all of these different organizations’ customer service training.
I worked at Walt Disney World and Advent Health. I had the opportunity to teach some of the Customer Service Training at Advent Health to other team members, and finally – a client I helped had Chick-fil-A come in and provide some customer service training for their team. So I’ve experienced a few hours of how they train their teams on their service standards.
The bottom line with this – just creating the customer service standards isn’t enough. If they get handed out in the new employee packet and are never reviewed, spoken about, and reinforced – they aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.
In our last two weeks on customer service – I’m going to talk about how you train employees to the standards, and in the final week – we will talk about accountability.
Here is how you can ensure you won’t miss a minute of this free training.
· Be the Boss of Your Brand Blog. It’s updated weekly.
· Join me Live in my Facebook group each Wednesday about noon-ish at PR and Marketing for Small Business Owners and Nonprofits.
· Check out the Back Porch Communications YouTube channel for weekly video lessons.
As always – I’m here to help.