A Common Service Language – Essential But Uncommon
By Ron Kaufman
A common language enables effective coordination of action.
Software developers use common terms, like bug reports and freezing code. When new software comes out, they say the old one has reached the “end of life”.
Insurance agents also share a common language. They use terms like persistency, premiums, waivers and exclusions. When their customer reaches end of life they say “the death benefit is now available”.
Inside organizations, leaders, managers and frontline staff all talk about service. But they don’t always use the same language.
Leaders talk about customer segmentation, distribution channels and competitive differentiation. Managers refer to service policies, roles and responsibilities and key performance indicators. Frontline staff use a completely different language of service: complaints, compliments, angry customers, difficult situations and “you have to speak to my manager”.
This lack of a common service language makes it hard to coordinate between levels of authority and between departments.
And this fragmented understanding is not helped by platitudes like “The customer is always right” (not always true), and “Go the extra mile” (not always the best course of action).
What’s missing is a Common Service Language – a way of speaking about service that makes sense throughout the organization, from senior levels to frontline staff, among internal service providers as well as those who face and serve the customer every day.
Six Sigma did it for defect reduction.
Balance Scorecard did it for performance measurement.
Seven Habits did it for personal character development.
UP Your Service! College is doing it for service performance improvement.
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