People providing the service must be well motivated to perform the service. They must understand why the service is important, receive satisfaction from their work, and feel supported in and valued for their efforts. The attitude of the service providers is important in both the hiring process and the ongoing service delivery. The demonstrated behaviors of the employees can be measured, as well as some metrics that are ways to determine if the attitude and motivation are improving, stable, or declining.
Key questions to consider are these:
•What is the level of staff turnover and staff retention? How does this compare to other service areas within the organization, or with
the same type of service at other companies? Is there a plan for job
progression? Do top performers stay, or are they being lured away by competitors?
•Is the facility design economically effective? Is the layout, light
ing, noise, privacy, and work space consistent with the job being
performed and overall industry conditions?
•Are employee attitude and behavior factors like sick days, absenteeism, and tardiness being measured? Does the staff consistently exhibit courtesy and professionalism for their duties?
•Does management exhibit appropriate attitude and behavior to the service staff? How much time does management spend in the service area?
•Has staff compensation for the jobs performed been aligned with local and industry averages and practices? Are there formal and informal reward and recognition systems for the individuals and work teams? Do rewards match behavior, and are there any rewards for exceptional service?
•Is there a sufficient variety of job tasks and operations challenge built into the positions to learn by working? Are there recognized training programs to upgrade skills?
•Do the jobs require personal empowerment and flexibility?
People and Skills
The service staff must have the right set of skills for the job. In addition to any product and technical knowledge, they must possess communications skills, problem/opportunity-solving skills, escalation skills when problems occur, and plain old interpersonal skills. You cannot have your people effectively serving customers if they are not equipped with having mastered the necessary skills.
•Are there enough people to handle the job given the plans for use or the volume of activity anticipated? Is there scheduling and forecasting of the likely distribution of service activity?
•Is there a skills inventory and have employees' skills been updated in the inventory?
•Are there individual or group development plans? Is there a time and expense budget annually to ensure training and development?
•Does the plan cover the four basic knowledge areas in the service process: technical skills, business knowledge, service team skills, and company infrastructure and knowledge?
Goal setting provides the opportunity to get people to commit to a level of service. It is then much easier to manage to the commitments, instead of managing individual personalities.
Tools and Technology
The bill of service also includes the materials and consumables to actually deliver the service. Naturally, the service must have the necessary components to achieve the performance levels established in the objectives of the service, and hopefully consistent with the customer's expectations. There must also be infrastructure necessary to support the service.
For example, a hotel registration clerk is expected to have access to the room reservations system, a room assignment system, a credit card authorization system, a cash drawer, and other systems, including a telephone. They must also have access to a variety of consumables, like keys, instructions booklets, maps, and other items likely to be requested by the person registering for the hotel room. Equally important are service problem tracking processes to identify issues and have them resolved, if possible, before a customer notices the problem.
Here, much of the APICS body of knowledge can be applied to determine the right materials for the service being offered. More importantly, basic questions about the service can be asked and answered in light of the new forms of technology. For example:
•Can customers use self-help options for products or services by using the company's applications or the Internet? Can they retrieve status or other information?
•Can customers design their own customized service offering? Or
can they even design a customized product offering?
•What are the planning processes for material used and consumed in the service processes?
•Are there tools available to track queues, or demand that does not match expected supply? How are service capacity and load monitored?
•Do requests for products or services in one part of the organization place load or work flow demand in other parts of the organization?
Excellent service is not an accident. It must be carefully planned for and flawlessly executed. The delivery of excellent service is not an act, but a process of service chains that run throughout the service organization, and within the industry of the service organization.
The same body of knowledge APICS has developed to plan and operate manufacturing organization can be directly applied to services. Breaking down the excellent service into its component parts, most of which are services in themselves, provides a easy way of examining the service component of our world. The customer bill of service can be applied to any service, in any industry, and be used to plan and deliver excellent service.
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