Identify three key requirements for quality standards for individual customer service employees. Review practical examples of the requirements at work, and how they can be incorporated into an overall, cohesive approach.
- To be effective, the quality standards you establish for customer service employees must meet three key requirements. We'll look at each here, along with some practical examples of how to create a cohesive approach. The first requirement for effective quality standards for individuals is that they must flow directly from your organization's mission, vision, and values. The Walt Disney company is an example of this principle. When Disneyland was created in 1955, they described their vision simply as we create happiness.
They then developed a simple set of standards to operationalize the role of employees, or to use their terminology, cast members. Those same four standards are at work today, there are Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency, and underneath each standard Disney itemizes two or three key actions. Under Show, for example, are the actions, I stay in character, I keep my area show ready. They then the describe the behaviors that support each action.
Now, you aren't likely to find gum wrappers littering the ground, or Cinderella using inappropriate language offstage. Through this simple tiered approach, quality standards flow directly from Disney's mission. What else can we learn from Disney and other organizations about effective quality standards? A second requirement is that the standards must be within the control of the individual. You can't, for example, expect an individual to keep customer wait times to a minimum. That's a matter of forecasting and scheduling at a team or function-wide level.
You can expect individuals to adhere to their schedules, you can establish an understanding of timing and the importance of being there at the right times for customers. Consider another example, entering data correctly is a common aspect of customer service that's commonly reflected in quality standards for employees, and should be, but even something so seemingly straightforward can be influenced by others factors. If standards specify that data is repeated back to customers to ensure accuracy, do they have the time to do so, or are there perhaps competing expectations? It's imperative that standards for individuals be based on the things they can control, as well as be workable in a real operated environment.
A third requirement of standards is they're clear and easy to manage. This means they must be easy to understand and implement, they must be concrete enough to be described, measured, trained to, and coached to, and they should be limited to a manageable number. Disney's four standards can be memorized in the first morning of employment, and the actions, behaviors underneath each, the more detailed version of their standards are built out through training, coaching, and reinforcement over time.
We've included a worksheet focused on quality standards for individuals, which provides space for you to summarize your organization's mission, vision, and values. You can then identify quality standards for individuals that further your mission, and take note of why they're important and the metrics that can support them. The worksheet also provides sample standards from two organizations, Disney, and the New South Wales Police Department in Australia who did a great job of defining standards in a public service setting.
When standards for individuals flow directly from your vision, mission, and values, when they're within the control of individuals, and when they're clear and easy to manage they boost consistency and quality, and there's an added benefit, they often contribute to higher levels of employee engagement as employees see a direct connection between the work they do and the benefit to customers in the 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