A few years ago I had to write a full set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) from scratch along with a customer service training programme for a brand spanking new flagship operation. This was an office that was to be run like a hotel, but without the beds, and it demanded an exceptional level of service standards across the guest journey which included; door concierge, concierge desk, reception, business lounge, client business lounge, floor hosts and bookings.
I wanted to push the level of service offered, to make it better than anything I had done before. As I started to pull together the materials to develop the SOPs and training programme I considered how I could do this and set off on a mission to understand customer service better. Traditional SOPs would give very explicit instructions such as; ‘lead the visitor to the room, do not get closer than two feet away or further than six feet away from the visitor, point out any obstacles with an outstretched hand, palm facing upwards…etc.’ and this felt very robotic to me. I wanted to do something that was genuine and more personal.
I started to research customer service on line and spent time in my local Waterstones looking for books on the subject and this led me to consider customer service from a broader perspective and how it wasn’t about simply following a process. It became clear to me that exceptional customer service is deeply rooted in psychology and that to address it properly a good strategy was required. Focusing on developing this strategy I came across ‘The Customer Service model’ as a high level approach to defining and developing what I should do.
According to the model, good customer service is dependent on these basic factors:
- Strategy and culture – making sure service quality is a key value with associated goals and clear measurements
- People – recruiting people who have a customer focused attitude and rewarding and recognising them accordingly
- Processes – designing processes from the customers’ viewpoint and continuously improving through innovation and the encouragement of shared ideas.
Once I’d identified where the service levels currently were, against where I wanted them to be, I could map a path, with key milestones in place to achieve the desired outcome. I could then start to develop the tactics needed to deliver the results in line with business demand and continuously review that process.
What the customer service model did for me, combined with some research I did on psychology, was to arm me with the tools to drive the best possible service at the new flagship operation, along with a real sense of personal achievement from providing the best service I could.
Peter Norris is a national Account Director for Mitie Client Services.