Let start with looking at the following scene from the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994):
Man: [aggressively] What do you want?
Ace Ventura: HDS, sir, and how are you this afternoon? All righty, then. I have a package for you.
Man: Sounds broken.
Ace Ventura: Most likely, sir. I'll bet it was something nice, though.
It's a type of customer service scene. What can we find at this scene?
1. Rude and impatient customer
2. A customer service person who seems in the beginning to behave nice, polite and service oriented
3. A customer service person who seems in the end, as... not very clever, tactless and... about to get punched in his face ...
Organizations face more and more cases like the above and find real need to define service values and Service Code – which are consistent and clear - and based on the specific organization real life cases. The goal is to prevent such situations and design a uniform corporate policy regarding the service issue. Service Code and service values are gathered to form a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which serves as a central managerial and control tool of the corporate service issue. The goal of the SLA is to enable the management to assess more accurately the customers' expectations, so it includes definitions for:
• the company's services' portfolio,
• the various corporate divisions dealing with customer service
• the various service processes
These definitions are based on clear defined service values, which serve as the vision and the mission of the entire corporate customer service staffs, managers as well as employees.
One may say that SLA is an agreement between the service provider and the customer. The importance of the SLA is by providing a clear visualization of the principles, boundaries and expectations generated during the service process or interaction. This visualization enables the organization to meet its business objectives, analyze real situations, measure the results and learn from the conclusions. This method allows the company to comply with the highest service standards compared to its competitors and proved to be a cost effective solution.
For those of you who interested to read an excellent and thorough article about SLA, I recommend Amit Mehendale's, which I read recently:
After completion of forming the SLA, the company faces a bigger challenge - building a system-wide work plan to implement the principles and processes.
The corporate senior management will probably ask the following questions:
How to share this knowledge with the entire corporate customer service staff?
How to provide the managers with new tools to start implementing the work plan?
How to get feedback on the principles of the Service Code so it will be connected to daily ongoing corporate activities?
What can we learn from these feedbacks that will enable us to make changes and adjustments in the work plan during its implementation?
Let me show an example for dealing with these questions raised during a comprehensive project we carried out a year ago for the IT Division of a leading financial company.
With the entry of a new head of the division and during a significant re-organization, the management decided as a first step to define a new and up to date SLA. The process also included writing a comprehensive work plan for the upcoming 3 years. The challenge defined was to carry a SLA launch conference at the end of this first step.
The most important targets were:
• To involve the entire Division staff (about 350 employees) in this process and get feedback from their personal interpretation of the service values in the Service Code.
• Exploit this creative process to provide managers with leading and team guiding skills
• Put the service issue in first priority for the entire company's staff with accompanying BUZZ.
Employees and managers took part in this process creating commercials for each service value, where the most popular value was the value of the personal attitude.
The idea was to give an interpretation through a short story with a clear message to the importance of values such as excellence, availability, cooperation, personal responsibility, initiative, caring, listening, transparency and professionalism.
The issues raised by managers as challenges to deal with were:
"We're going to stop talking and start doing"
"We're going to be available for our customers and colleagues at any time and place"
"We're going to stop telling stories to our customers and colleagues"
"We start to be positive and initiate"
The goal was not to generate just slogans but to implement in practice what they stood for.
The managers passed a preliminary workshop about screenwriting and groups guiding, and met with their employees for brainstorming sessions.
Each group produced a number of scripts for commercials, with reference to the story itself and casting of the participants for various production roles (screenwriters, directors, actors, art, technical crew, costume designers etc.).
After selecting 10 scripts, each group was photographed for its commercial.
All the films were broadcasted at a big Service Code launch conference of the company, accompanied with stories of representatives of the groups about the process they went through.
These testimonies, presented in different ways, carried the same message, I found in the following quote:
It is one of the greatest compensations of life that no one can help another without helping themselves
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's currently about a year after the launch project ended and the division staff are working intensively to implement the values presented as slogans in their own films:
The change of the service level starts with you!
Service with vision!
When all of us are united the service net is perfect!
No service – a big nightmare!
When it is important to you - it's more important to us!
Your success - Our Mission!
Our knowledge is always at your service!
Want to know more about this positive change? Read more about Service training videos and CastEffect Filmmaking
I would love to hear your opinions, learn from your experience and share knowledge.
Question For You: Every process has its major milestones – what are the next steps the management should take to ensure the ongoing improvement of the SLA work plan?
Co-CEO, Content & Production Manager
Our next post will be tip #6 - writing a screenplay about competing with changes of re-organization process