Catalytic Management Consulting
Accelerating Growth, Driving Performance

If You Make a Promise, Keep It

Service promises are misrepresented to customers every day. Daily, you make service promises that tell your clients what to expect from you. Whether you create, define and communicate service promises or not, they happen—and determine how satisfied or dissatisfied your customers are. Disconnects in service delivery promises occur unless you clearly define your service promise, ensure an understanding of the role of service, commit to service standards, communicate these standards across all functions, and assign responsibility for service quality.

Service Role: Brand, Promise or Luck

“We’re Job One!” “The customer is our business!” “The customer comes first!” Branding statements are built around the belief that differentiated customer service drives profits. And they’re right—if those promises are kept.

Most managers claim to be committed to the customer and make service a high priority. Many even make service statements and promises to differentiate their brand. Your staff may make service promises daily in response to management comments. An executive can talk about service one day in a speech only to see it translated into a promise that the staff makes to customers.

If you make promises, keep them. If not, customers will go to competitors.

To keep your service promises, take seven steps:

  1. Create a service leadership team that includes reps from senior management, operations, product development, marketing, sales and finance.
  2. Define your service promise and incorporate it in mission and vision statements.
  3. Define and distribute specific service standards for each department.
  4. Train everyone in those standards and in how to deliver superior service.
  5. Develop a formal service recovery system and monitor failures.
  6. Assign responsibility for monitoring service promises.
  7. Develop an ongoing service improvement methodology.

Keeping Your Promises

Develop a service quality program that includes five key elements:

  • Define service promises and standards and build them into job descriptions.
  • Measure your success at meeting standards; include service performance in performance evaluations.
  • Reward those who exceed standards.
  • Innovate by continuously improving and refining your service.
  • Train the entire company and sustain on-going programs that will keep the company focused on service.

Listen to your customers. They will tell you what they expect and how you can meet those expectations. Delivering differentiated service tomorrow starts with keeping service promises today.

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