By Carole Spicer, Spicer Facilitation & Learning
When I agreed to contribute an article on service excellence a year ago, I had no idea I would be writing this during a pandemic. As I reflected on what to say, I realized that while our service processes may be different, service excellence remains the same.
Many businesses develop mission statements, vision statements, and values as part of their strategic planning; however, have you put thought into developing your service commitment statement? My favourite approach to developing a service commitment statement is to ask three questions.
Who are your clients/customers?
What products or services do you deliver?
How do you want your clients/customers to feel when the service transaction is completed?
1. Who are your clients/customers?
For some businesses this is easy to answer. For others, it may pose a challenge. Until you fully understand who you are in business for, it is difficult to develop a service culture that meets their needs.
2. What products or services do you deliver?
Being able to articulate what you can offer to your clients/customers is also easy for some and difficult for others. You need to be able to connect your products and services to solving a problem that your clients/customers are experiencing.
3. How do you want your clients/customers to feel when the service transaction is completed?
This question is the most important one to me. I want every interaction with my business to create a positive feeling with my client. Putting their feelings first helps me to keep my service processes in line with their expectations.
When people experience service delivery excellence, they may tell one or two people about the experience. If they experience poor service delivery, they often tell many people. They express their frustration, disappointment, or anger at what transpired. It does not matter if the problem was solved: if the service delivery experience invoked negative feelings, then that is what they will remember and tell others.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to drastically change the way they do business. From contactless service to reduced hours, consumers are changing the way they receive service. I believe businesses that can create a positive feeling with their clients/customers during unsettling times are the ones that will be successful. People will return and continue to support businesses that made them feel safe and valued. Two recent examples stand out for me. One was a restaurant that closed before St. Patrick’s Day in March when the pandemic was first hitting our province. I heard several people tell the business owner that they appreciated that difficult decision—made for them—to ensure public safety. The second was when my daughter purchased a Mother’s Day gift for me at a local business. She did curbside pick-up, which was seamless, but what impacted her was the handwritten note inside her package from the business owner, thanking her for supporting her business during the pandemic. In both situations, the service process was greatly changed. In both situations, the customers felt valued.
I recently explored a new software platform to deliver my virtual services. The product I have used for many years suits my needs, yet I found lately that my clients seemed to be frustrated with the online experience. The problem did not seem to be the content, but the technology. I conducted a pilot with the same clients and feedback was consistent—the new product was easier to use, and they enjoyed the experience more. While the new product is more expensive, it is the right decision for me to purchase it to ensure that my clients have a positive experience and feel comfortable.
As you move forward with business plans in an uncertain future, I challenge you to take some time to think about your service delivery culture and to develop or revisit your service commitment statement. How do you want your clients/customers to feel?
Strong relationships are one of the core values of Carole R. Spicer. Carole is the owner and founder of Spicer Facilitation & Learning. A certified master trainer and facilitator, Carole uses her experience to help her clients achieve desired outcomes. She has worked in both private and public sectors and prides herself on the ability to customize solutions to meet the unique needs of the people she works with. A natural storyteller with a passion for her heritage, Carole often says she is in her dream job as she gets to talk for a living. She currently resides in Pasadena, NL, with her husband and their two cats. When not volunteering she can be found snowshoeing, kayaking, reading, or watching her beloved Toronto Maple Leafs.