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Call of Shame: Setting Standards for Success

October 13, 2021 BY The Siren Of Support Leave a comment

We all know that coworker that skates by cutting corners because they are swamped but still kind of gets the job done? That bagger at the grocery store who sees that the line is seven deep and puts your bananas in the same bag as your canned goods. That phone rep when the internet goes out tells you to try restarting and call back later if it doesn’t work. Call it half-assed. Call it an attempt at efficiency. Call it disregard for the customer experience. I call it lack of standards.

In life, love and labor there must be a baseline, a standard that defines what success looks like. When working in any service industry success is generally seen as having satisfied customers (both internal and external), generating profit and reducing loss. On paper this sounds simple. Sell stuff, be pleasant and don’t make mistakes. However, when a person or a team gets overwhelmed by busyness it is too easy to slip into the quantity over quality mentality. You are still getting the job done, you are checking the boxes off, you make progress towards the end of line, but are you meeting the standard level of quality that is expected? Is your team meeting production numbers but making mistakes because demand is high and they are in a rush? Do your customers get the same attention as when the queue isn't backed up? If a job is worth doing, its worth doing well.

As a manager, leader, or co-worker we must set and uphold an expectation that is so concrete it does not waver even on the most hectic day. The baseline level of service or quality is not bare minimum. It is not just getting the job done, but rather getting the job done while upholding company values, meeting customer experience expectations and being uniformly executed. It may seem difficult to enforce standards when your team is already behind, when they are struggling to keep up, but this is when it is most important. The true test of a company is not how well it performs when everything is easy but how it perseveres when the going gets tough.  

Baseline expectations are imperative to service level, accountability, training and internal and external customer satisfaction. But where and how do you start? 

  1. Be realistic: Your people are busy. Make sure that the expectation is achievable and necessary.  
  2. Accountability:  Do not make or allow excuses when the phones are ringing off the hook. The standard has been agreed upon. Any degradation can lead to a slippery slope of permanent reduction in service or quality level.  
  3. Don’t wait: Make it official. Make it known. Provide training and materials to anyone responsible for maintaining the baseline expectations.  
  4. Use data: Can 375 lollipops be produced per hour? Is a customer service rep able to answer 100 calls per day? Ensure that the quality isn’t suffering due to an unattainable quantity goal. Make changes to process if able, or add staff and resources if necessary. 
  5. Allow for feedback: Ask your people if they feel successful in hitting the mark. Ask your customers if your team is giving them what they need. The only way to know that your baseline is lucrative is to allow for conversation.  

Once your baseline has been implemented you will experience greater uniformity in service and quality levels. You will be able to easily identify when someone isn't performing as expected. No longer is it a finger in the wind, “I think we are doing ok”. You will be able to address and correct with confidence.  

Goodbye half-asser. See you never again bruised bananas. And so long seesaw service and quality. 

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