SME Excellence Newsletter

Every business has a competition; the level of competition could be much fiercer with SMEs than Corporates as market entry for SMEs is easier. The bottom line is that your customers have options but you NEED them. You need them to keep your business running, to pay salaries of your staff and yourself, to achieve your dreams for starting the business in the first place and most importantly because they are the primary source of funds. What will help set you apart from the competition and determine the long term survival of your business is the quality of service you give. As a business, you must therefore commit to ensuring that the highest quality of service is given to your customers all the time.

This would require you, the business owner to be deliberate in driving a disciplined process for service delivery. To achieve this, you need to create a culture that supports customer service in your organization and these actionable steps can help you:

Collectively Define Service – to get your people to own service, you need to get them to individually and collectively define what service should be in the organization. The mirror principle of customer is a simple tool that can help you achieve this. It focuses on getting people to reflect on the behaviors that constitute good and bad service based on the service they have received outside of the organization and then come up with service Do’s and Don’ts for the organization – this becomes your service charter and can be designed and displayed in your office and website.

Set Standards & Expectations for Service Delivery – to translate your service charter to reality and ensure your employees practice the Do’s and Don’ts in the charter; you need to clearly spell out the standards that are expected. Standards should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable yet stretching, Relevant to providing good service and Timely. For example, a restaurant could have “Prompt Service Delivery” as a DO and set a 20 minute turnaround time for cooking food as a Standard. Employees would then have to find creative ways to ensure that food is prepared and delivered within 20 minutes. Remember the standards must be SMART to be effective.

Measure & Track Service Delivery – you need to institute systems and processes to help you measure and track the performance of each staff against the service standards and expectations that have been set. You can use customer surveys, mystery shopping, feedback forms, and complaint/feedback phone numbers etc to get a feel of what real customers receive. By continuously measuring and monitoring service, you get a first-hand view of what needs to improve, and the steps required to make improvements.

Reward & Recognize Good Service – rewards and recognitions are good ways to motivate your performing staff to keep performing and encourage the non-performing staff to get better. Providing incentives, instituting staff of the month are ways you can motivate your people to maintain and improve the service standards that have been set.