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Shep Hyken – customer service motivational speaker, author, trainer, and expert – lists the five levels of service in one of his Shepard Letters, his monthly newsletter, and proposes questions to ask yourself to improve your current service level. Recently I was asked to rate and compare a number of companies on their level of service. As I started the comparison, I thought a scale of 1-5 would be a good way of doing it. (One is bad and five is excellent.) Then creativity kicked in. Why rate them by numbers when you can assign a descriptive name. So, I came up with the “Five Levels of Service.” 1. Unacceptable – This is bad service at any level. Call it poor, terrible, less than stellar –bottom line is it is unacceptable for any reason. 2. Basic – commodity and minimum standards. 3. Good – your customers identify your service as “satisfactory.” 4. World Class – This is a big jump from good. It is beyond satisfactory. Customers think of your company as great. You create value. Customers compare you with others in your industry. 5. Trademark – Others are compared to you. You are the industry benchmark for great service. So take a self-assessment. Each of the following questions is a two-part question. One answer is on a company level and the other is on a personal level. If you do not personally deal with outside customers, take a look at how you service your internal customer. The questions are: 1. What level of service does your company and you, as an individual, provide for your customers and clients? 2. How would you describe yourself based on the above descriptive levels of service? 3. What companies inside of your industry could be assigned to each of these levels of service? 4. What companies outside of your industry could you assign to each of these levels of service? 5. What do the companies who have “World Class” and “Trademark” (both inside and outside of your industry) do that you could emulate? 6. If you are not already at the “Trademark” level – and very few companies are – what would it take to get you a step closer, or even all of the way there? The above questions could make for some great discussions. To close this article, here a few summarizing points: Recognize that service is a process. It is ongoing. You and your company should always be striving to improve, even if you are already at the “Trademark” level. While some people have taken service to a scientific level with measurements, testing, etc., the basics are common sense. It is about people thinking about taking care of people. No matter how good you and your company rate in the “Five Levels of Service,” everyone needs to be continuously trained, reminded and coached. Remember, the quest for “Trademark” service is a process – a never-ending journey! Ending with an appropriate quote… “Great service is not the end – the final answer. It is a process that is on-going, ever changing and is always being adapted to meet the needs of the current situation.” — Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional  speaker and New York Times   bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or For information on The  Customer  Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken (Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

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