Make a big difference with a little work – Set Service Expectations

Make a big difference with a little work – Set Service Expectations

Posted by Wendi Pomerance Brick on July 24, 2011 at 10:30am


Excellent service is important to all of us. It measures our success as professionals. It certainly influences our decision to be a customer.

So how do we make sure it’s happening when each person could have a different interpretation of what “great customer service” actually means?

You’ve all heard me talk about The Six Essential ElementsTM for creating a culture of service. Essential Element 1 is setting service expectations, and it’s number one for a reason. Case in point – imagine a very long stretch of road with no speed limit posted. What would be your chances of complying with the speed limit if you didn’t know what it was? Do you think different people would interpret the direction to “drive safely” differently? Of course they would.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what we do to our teams. “Be good at customer service” is just about as clear as “comply with the speed limit” when you don’t know what it is.

Set up your teams to succeed. Provide definitions of success in every situation.

If you want to have a big impact on quality of service, develop written standards. You’ll see a lot of result for a little bit of work.

If you are a service provider who doesn’t supervise a team, ask your supervisor exactly what the standards are. You’ll have a much better chance at excelling when you know the rules of the game!

Do You Have Written Expectations For These Common Interactions?

Face-to-face in the office
Face-to-face in the field
Emails and automated replies
Land line and cell phone interactions
Call center interactions and quality control
Recorded greetings
Leaving voice mail messages
Out-of-office expectations
Driving a marked vehicle (logo visible)
Working with difficult situations and/or emotional customers
Employees as customers (for supervisors)

An Example:
Effective Communications in Person

  • Always greet your customers in a friendly and respectful manner
  • Use pleasant facial expressions – smile
  • Look up from your work – make eye contact
  • Nod your head in understanding
  • Say “please” and “thank you”
  • Use plain language


(Originally posted on GovLoop.)