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Setting Effective Service Standards: Challenge #1 of 5

Enjoy this interview with Jeff Eilertsen who leads the Client Success team at Uplifting Service with 25 years’ experience improving service and leadership in organizations around the world.

As a consultant, keynote speaker and global master trainer, Jeff works with clients to develop people, processes and best practices to achieve a culture of Service Excellence.

Jeff offers service performance insights to address five essential service challenges every organization must successfully address. In this interview with Ron Kaufman, Jeff discusses the first challenge, Setting Effective Service Standards.


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Ron: Hi, this is Ron Kaufman and I’m here today with Jeff Eilertsen.

Jeff is our Global Master Trainer and, really, key responsible person for global service excellence with our clients worldwide.

Jeff, over the many enjoyable years that we’ve been working together,

Jeff: Yes

Ron: we’ve really developed two areas of expertise.

One of them is improving service performance, helping organizations achieve excellence in service.

And then we discovered after a few years of really getting strong at

that that there’s a whole other area of helping organizations build that culture that consistently improves service over time.

Jeff: That’s right.

Ron: Let’s take this time and talk about that first layer

Jeff: Okay.

Ron: where really is service performance issues.

Jeff: Right.

Ron: So when companies come to us, not many of them come and say: “Oh we’re here to build a service culture”. They realize later: “We’re gonna need that to sustain these improvements.”

But when they come with the challenge of service performance, when you think about it from your experience, what are some of the main categories, the main areas, that clients show up with and say, “Hey we need help with this or with that, or with that?”

Jeff: Good, yeah, when it comes to service performance issues, I see that there are probably five common ones that I hear the most.

Ron: Okay.

Jeff: The first one is fairly rudimentary basic. It’s companies looking simply to set service standards. They don’t know or their people don’t know what good service even looks like.

And so setting a standard of what a service gonna look like becomes challenging because they want to set a set of steps or process of what that service standard should be, but at the same time they want people to be able to exceed that standard. So it’s helping people become aware of what good service looks like but also be curious and able to exceed it.

Ron: So it’s interesting when you spoke just now about standard you use the language of, you know, set a standard and established a process to deliver a certain standard. If I was working in that organization, I could understand why: “why would I want to go beyond that, what’s the appetite for it.”

Jeff: Yeah, yeah.

Jeff: Well that’s the thing it’s dynamic because you have different customers who are expecting different things and it’s changing this whole idea. In fact, our definition of service, taking action to create value, is one of constantly looking for opportunities to step up. So setting a standard and hoping that that’s going to be done and, you know, complete for the rest of time, doesn’t work.

Ron: Is it sufficient because there are rising expectations and competitors doing these things. But help me understand when you talk about service standard that way that’s like standard from our side as the service provider.

Jeff: That’s right.

Ron: And yet it’s actually the clients’ experience, the customers experience, you want that to be at least a minimum standard.

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely.

That’s a challenge because it’s easier to say, “here’s what we think the standard should be and set a process to do that”, but as I mentioned before different customers value different things. Things are dynamic, so we have to understand it and be curious about it from the customers’ point of view. So it really becomes an effort of not just setting a standard but it’s setting a behavior of looking for what the experience of that customer is going to be and how to make that better.

Ron: So it’s creating an understanding of what is the minimum standard or the higher standard or the incredible standard that we want to deliver in the customer experience, and we need processing systems and procedures to make that happen, but we also need people who recognize that the outcome is not: “I did the process”,

Jeff: Yes, exactly.

Ron: that the outcome is: “I deliver the experience that was at least a certain standard.”

Jeff: Right. And that’s the awareness missing, not only from the people, but sometimes for the people who show up at our door asking for service standards.

Ron: Right. So even we have leaders or people responsible for service delivery who come: “I need to set the standards.”

Jeff: That’s right.

Ron: And they themselves don’t understand actually it’s not the standard process and procedure you want, it’s the minimum standard of experience.

Jeff: Yes.

Ron: And different customers value different things.

Jeff: That’s exactly right.

Ron: Okay very good, that’s problem number one,

Jeff: Yes.

Ron: an issue and we’re able to help tackle that.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Ron: Across various industries?

Jeff: Yes across multiple industries, different levels as well of people in the organization, absolutely.

Ron: And you’ve seen this in b2c and b2b and in different cultures all over the world.

Jeff: Absolutely yeah. Retail, automotive, banking, finance, IT, even internally shared services, excellence still applies.

Ron: Good. Okay so issue number one is helping organizations understand what is the standard of experience that we want to create for the customers, the clients, guests, patients, members, whatever they may be called. What is it we need to have operating inside the organization to deliver that and create the understanding and awareness in our people that it really is about the other party’s experience, not about our process delivery that matters.

Jeff: That’s right.

Ron: And that the expectations keep rising.

Jeff: That’s right.

Ron: Okay very good. Number one. We’ll be right back with number two, three, four and five.

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