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Set Internal And External Standards

Monday, September 03, 2012

Every organisation must have a set of Customer Service standards, which will serve as a road map for the Customer Service Professional. If these are not set forth, the Customer Service Professional will be directionless and at sea when dealing with the customer. The customer service standards must be set in a policy form and a whole-hearted attempt must be made to meet and exceed them. My Prescription, Process-Oriented Customer Service Prescription, is a series of actions or proceedings that are geared towards achieving something.

Customer satisfaction can be measured in terms of satisfaction levels. But you have to set Customer Service standards first so that they can be measured and subsequently improved upon.

There are two types of Customer Service Standards: internal and external.

Internal Customer Service standards are for internal customers, or employees, to meet or exceed so that they can in turn meet and exceed the standards set for external customers, the customers, thereby ensuring customer satisfaction if the Customer Service standards are met and ensuring delight if the Customer Service standards are exceeded.

This requires a process of setting standards so as to meet or exceed the standards. This is what I mean by my Process-Oriented Customer Service Prescription.

When a courier company promises its customers that it would ensure delivery of their packages by 10 a.m. the next day, they are setting an external customer service standard.

To ensure that this actually happens, internal customer service standards would first have to be set up. Thus, the pick-up time would be designated and there would be a cut-off time for the package to reach the hub. Similarly, there’s a time for the package to reach the airport, get loaded on the aircraft and then get off-loaded at the destination airport. From there it has to reach the destination hub on time. All these are internal customer service standards.

Finally, from the hub, the package gets delivered to the customer by 10 a.m. This is the external Customer Service standard. Please note that in order to enable one external Customer Service Standards, there are several internal Customer Service standards that have to be met. And both internal and external Customer Service standards are measurable with persons who are accountable for meeting each and every one of them.

In another case, a Consumer Durables company selling white goods promised delivery of a refrigerator on a particular day. They had set an external Customer Service standard. But had quite forgotten to set the internal Customer Service standards. This internal lack of accountability led to the external Customer Service standard not being met. And the family waiting for the refrigerator on the day that they were promised delivery was left in a lurch with a particularly unpleasant Brand Experience story to tell. No wonder they eventually cancelled their order, took a refund and shopped elsewhere for their fridge.

As you can see, it is important to practice the Process-Oriented Customer Service Prescription so that the company can meet and exceed both internal ad external Customer Service standards.

In my opinion, standards must be set and standards must be met. 

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