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Setting Service Standards – Information For Small And Medium Businesses
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Setting Service Standards – Information for Small And Medium Businesses

In his books about the “E-myth” Michael Gerber insists that no business can succeed until it has established systems for every part of its operation – systems that are so robust they could be duplicated as a franchise. (The point is not that you need to create a franchise, but that your systems are so clearly defined that anybody could understand and implement them consistently, with minimal supervision.)

However, if you're developing systems for the operation of your business, then there must be clearly defined service standards against which the performance of the system can be measured. For example, there should be clearly defined standards for the following:

  • How quickly do you answer phone calls?
  • How soon do you respond to sales leads?
  • What’s the required time frame for delivery of products or services?
  • How often do you contact previous customers with new offers?
  • How often do you ask for customer feedback on your products and service quality?
  • How often are company delivery vehicles washed?
  • Is every new customer asked where they heard of your company?

These are just a few standards, to start you thinking. What other service standards could you define for the systems that govern the operation of your business?

By requiring your team to deliver performance against an impartial standard, you remove the risk that the customer’s experience will vary according to the mood or motivation of the staff.

Of course, this has the benefit that you'll be able to provide a predictable customer experience. And when you can provide a predictable experience, you have a created a competitive advantage.

Example: The manager of a company decided to set a standard for information delivery. Any customer enquiry received before 5pm each day must have information sent to them that same day. This one standard has helped the company gain market share from competitors who usually take 2-3 days to send similar information.

There’s another benefit to having clear standards: to get the most from your team they need to know what their job is, how it should be done, and how a successful outcome will be measured. In other words, clear standards for their tasks.

After all, if you can't define what acceptable results are, how can your people (or your business) possibly be successful?

Suggested Action Steps:

  • Write down a minimum of ten areas where you should have clearly defined service standards.
  • Create specific, measurable, standards for each of these areas.
  • Clearly communicate these standards to your people. Be sure they understand the purpose: to help them deliver a better customer experience.


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