Customer service standards describe the manner in which an organization as a whole treats its customers. These standards also define how the employees of an organization treat customers regardless of their level in the hierarchy.
Setting Customer Service Standards – Four Categories
• Overall Customer code of practice
• Customer Telephone Call Standards
• Service Counter Standards
• Customer Complaint Handling Standards
Each of the 4 categories in the customer code of service will be explained and examples of the regulations contained within given.
1. Overall Customer Code of Service
This first category defines how all the employees of an organization treat their customers. This code of conduct applies to all the members affiliated to the organization regardless of the position they hold in the organizational structure. The code gives emphasis to 4 key areas. These areas include the following:
• Dedication to customer needs
All employees are required to focus on the customer’s needs exclusively. This is regardless of whether offering a solution to a customer is at the employee’s inconvenience. If the employee cannot offer an immediate solution to a customer’s needs, the employee is required to look for possible alternatives. For instance, the employee can refer the customer to the department better suited to handling the issue. Employees are required to not only fully understand customer needs, but to also be able to anticipate subsequent problems. Whenever there is a sensitive situation that demands an urgent follow up, an employee is required to do so at the appropriate time.
• Correct presentation to customers
Employees should be presentable and easily identifiable to customers at all times. This means that they should not only be well dressed, but should also adorn visible name tags. In positions that require a uniform, an employee is required to be in full uniform regardless of the time of day. The attitude the employee projects towards the customer should be positive at all times.
• Friendly attitudes towards customers
Employees are required to bring out the ideal customer service attitudes while interacting with customers. This attributes include cheerfulness, courtesy, empathy, respect, loyalty, patience, trustworthiness, helpfulness and reliability. This attributes should be applied regardless of the emotional disposition of the employee at the moment of offering the service.
• Correct application of knowledge and skills
An employee is required to utilize, without any inhibition, the full knowledge and skills available to him/her to serve a customer. This means that the customer should never be denied of service if the employee approached has the power to do so. The employee is required to use clear and straight forward statements that will guarantee the customer can understand the intent of the employee. It is also mandatory that the employee exercise confidentiality if personal information is revealed by the customer.
2. Telephone Standards
All calls should be answered promptly. This can be done by setting a standard number of rings after which a call must be answered. This regulation requires all calls should be answered regardless of who answers them. For instance when an employee passes near a colleague’s empty office while the phone is ringing, the employee should answer phone call. Each organization usually has its own set of answering greeting which is mandated for use by employees. The tone used in speaking to the customer while on the phone is supposed to put the customer at ease. This means the tone must be friendly and helpful yet formal.
Upon answering the phone call, an employee is required to attentively listen to the customer without being tempted to make assumptions as to the nature of the call. If it is necessary to put the customer on hold, it is advisable not to do so for more than 5 minutes straight. It is also necessary to brief the person, to whom the call is transferred, as to the nature of the call. It is mandatory for employees to make sure that incoming calls are transferred to a colleague during periods of prolonged absence. Finally all calls should be ended with a thank you and farewell gesture.
3. Service Counter Standards
The service should be a place that is customer oriented in terms of service provision. It should have clear and ideally placed sign-posting that provides customers with information available at the service counter. This information includes:
• Where to queue for a desired service
• A list of the services available at the counter
• The times at which the particular service counter is available
A requirement at all service stations is that services should be rendered to customers without delay. This is usually ensured by setting a target for the require response times. If customers have had to wait for a long time, then an apology is order, followed by a brief explanation of the cause. All customer service counters are required to have the necessary forms and documentation relating to a service offered, at all times. The employees stationed at a service counter should be presentable at all times, friendly to customers, attentive and helpful. This is aimed at ensuring that customers are satisfied by the quality of service rendered.
4. Customer Complaint Handling Standards
The first regulation for handling customer complaints is that employees should respond to customer complaints without bias. Employees should therefore not view complaints as negative inevitable outcomes but as opportunities to change a customer’s opinion. The complaint should therefore be handled with understanding and implied empathy.
If it is not possible to act immediately, the customer has to be clearly notified of when the necessary action will be taken. It is vital that the employee notes down all the vital information relating to a complaint. This makes it easier to take the appropriate action when it becomes possible. It also useful when transferring a complaint to a department or colleague better suited to dealing with it.
All complaints should be handled with an attitude of continued improvement. This is achieved by carrying out a thorough analysis of the complaints, determination of potential precursors and determination of the best approaches to handle particular complaints. This will ensure that employees are better equipped to handle any nature of complaint with both speed and finality.