Identify common misconceptions that hamper the development of quality standards, and learn how to address them in your organization. Understand how higher levels of service quality lead to lower costs, how they can help when you have limited resources, and how quality standards further, rather than restrict, the personality of your agents and organization.
- Sometimes within an organization, there's resistance to quality standards. Why is that? They're a good thing, right? Dig a little deeper, and we found there's several common misconceptions that can hamper their development and use. I'll summarize them here and suggest how you can ensure everyone is comfortable, even excited with your quality standards initiative. One common misconception is that quality standards are overly rigid and scripted, and while few executives would ever argue against the need for quality standards in the production of physical products, some feel that standards for service are not a fit for their culture.
This usually stems from believing that quality standards are scripts, here's exactly how you say something or do something. They envision the overly robotic conversations we've probably all had a time or two with customer service representatives. Here it's important to review the definitions of service quality and standard. Service quality is based on the customer's perception of how well our service meets his or her expectations. And quality standard refers to the requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics we establish for customer service.
Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer, lives by 10 core values, including, in their words delivering wow through service, creating fun and a little weirdness, and others. If you want to talk about your iguana or love of skydiving with a Zappos service representative, they'll happily do so, their standard is to connect with you, to engage. What do you want to replicate across interactions? The answer leads to the quality standards you create.
A second particularly debilitating misconception is that quality standards for customer service will increase costs. High quality is more expensive, right? In fact, just the opposite is often the case. Lack of quality standards where we need them leads to inconsistent service delivery and a host of problems and costs. The costs can include repeat contacts from customers, diversion of agents to activities that should be unnecessary, escalation of issues to higher management, brand damage, loss of referrals, agents taking the heat for mistakes made elsewhere, employee turnover, and others.
In a variation of the concern that quality is expensive, some executives worry that quality standards will consume more resources. In a growth environment, or in cases where resources are already limited, quality standards can be viewed as a risk. We just don't have the bandwidth, one executive recently confided to me as she was discussing her hope to one day improve their quality standards. Well, there is good news, quality standards help optimize and free resources. When effective, quality standards lead to a higher level of customer confidence, and less waste and rework.
These things minimize unnecessary diversions that tie up resources. Quality standards are just as critical in a startup as they are in an established organization. And they're especially helpful when you have limited resources. The logical approach for addressing these concerns is to illustrate what quality is and the costs when quality is lacking. To help, we've included a worksheet that identifies common costs of poor quality. I encourage you to think through the answers and work them into discussions you have on the value of quality standards.
To the degree any of these misconceptions exist, they tend to dissipate once quality standards are in place and producing positive results. I recommend you have these conversations early on, especially as needed around what quality is and what standards are for. Effective quality standards bring out the best in your organization.
Watch and learn how to establish quality standards in customer service, and improve loyalty, revenue, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. Brad Cleveland divides the lessons into three chapters, covering quality and customer service definitions, quality standards for individuals, and quality standards for the overall organization. Along the way, he shows how to implement a process, measure progress, and effectively coach employees.
- Defining quality
- Ensuring standards count
- Measuring individual performance
- Coaching customer service professionals
- Creating quality standards for the service organization