Two types of standards

From the course: Quality Standards in Customer Service

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  • Course details

    Customer service strategy can mean many different things. Quality standards ensure your team provides a consistent level of service—and customers receive a consistent level of care. This pays off in improved loyalty, increased revenue, and better employee engagement. Whether you’re leading a dedicated customer service team, a small business, or a large contact center, this course provides the practical know-how and real-life examples you need to establish quality standards and get the most out of your customer service initiatives. Brad Cleveland divides the lessons into three sections, 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, so that your entire team performs at its very best.


    • Click here to view Brad Cleveland’s instructor page

      Brad Cleveland

      Author, Speaker, Consultant / Senior Advisor, ICMI

      • Brad Cleveland is a globally-known customer strategy, management, and omnichannel services expert.

        A sought-after consultant and speaker, Brad has worked in 45 states and over 60 countries, and his clients have included many of today's service leaders—Apple, American Express, USAA, Google, and others. He has also advised governments in the United States, Australia, Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

        Brad has authored eight books and is the recipient of an best-selling award. His books and articles have been translated into over a dozen languages, and he has appeared in media ranging from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times to NPR's All Things Considered and others. He has received numerous industry awards in the customer service field, and was nominated for the prestigious Computerworld Smithsonian 21st Century Pioneering Award. In May 2012, Brad was recipient of ICMI's Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

        One of the initial partners in and former president and CEO of the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), Brad grew the firm into a global industry leader that is now part of United Business Media (London: UBM.L). Today, he is a busy consultant, writer, and speaker.

        Brad lives in Sun Valley, Idaho, with his wife, Kirsten, and their daughter, Grace. He is a private pilot, enjoys skiing and mountain biking, and has logged an estimated five million miles in travel.

    Skills covered in this course

  • Quality matters in customer service

    - Aren't there a million and one nuances you could focus on when establishing quality standards for employees to follow? Yeah, of course. So how do you even get started? Let's make this easy and effective. A proven way to establish quality standards for individuals is to categorize them as either foundation or finesse. Foundation standards measure whether something was done. They're objective and consistent and accomplished the same way by every person. They can be assessed with a simple yes or no. For example, the employee verifies the required information, enters data correctly, codes the interaction correctly. Consistency improves very quickly when you get foundation criteria in place. Think of piloting an aircraft. While flying might seem to be a matter of finesse, it's largely based on foundation criteria. Are you at the right air speed, the right altitude? Going through the checklist to ensure the landing gear is down when landing. I suggest that you build your suite of standards by first identifying those that are foundation. When you identify what has to happen, it can be assessed by a simple yes or no, many will fall into this category. Let's turn now to finesse standards, which measure how something's done. They're more subjective and are typically measured on a three, or four or five-point scale. They allow for style and individuality, and they provide room for interpretation. For example, the employee listens carefully, effectively probes for relevant input, and so forth. Think of high diving or figure skating in the Olympics. Finesse standards should provide clear guidance on what's expected, but performance happens in degrees. Now even though I suggest developing these after foundation standards, they're just as important, particularly in building customer relationships. This is where much of the personality of your brand can shine through. Back them up with descriptions of the service characteristics you're looking for and make sure that everybody understands standards the same way through training and coaching. Now if you're stumped on whether a standard's foundation or finesse, there are some services you could gauge both ways. And it's fine to characterize and measure them both ways. I'll use Southwest, a well-regarded American airline as an example. Their flight attendants cover required information and safety announcements, that's foundation. But they often add a humorous twist. We're about to go over safety features of this airplane, so listen up, there will be a quiz. Now I recommend having a mix of foundation and finesse criteria. I wouldn't worry too much about the ratio of each. It could be 60-40 or 40-60, or half and half. The breakdown will vary and really depends on the experiences you want for your customers. And don't come up with hundreds of standards, just focus on some key areas that will give your service just the right touch. So get your team involved in defining foundation and finesse criteria. I just bet you'll see how exciting and inspiring it could be to envision your customer service through clearer quality standards.

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