Are service standards something that we develop from an early age and make judgements on what is acceptable and not? After experiencing two very different situations in the one day, it got me thinking about when service standards start to become part of our behaviour.

The initial experience, if I can call it that, was walking into Telstra to speak to someone about my mobile phone that has some issues with it. The immediate response from the Gen Y gentleman was like a recorded message before I could even finish my sentence. “There is nothing we can do”. After finishing my blank stare that was really a brief day dream of lodging the handset into his skull, I proceeded to ask about what options I might have if I wanted to change the type of phone. I received a very similar answer that meant I needed to file a complaint 3 times until Telstra would consider replacing the handset which I had originally paid $1100 cash for. I wondered what the answer would have been like if I had a phone on contract that would have added to his quota?

The second experience was very different and involved my eldest child. After going to her school to collect her from after school care, I was advised that my little light of my life was constantly not listening to requests from the educators to follow what is evidently simple instructions. It was mostly just being asked to help pick up some toys off the floor that were no longer being used, somewhat different to the feelings I experienced in the Telstra store. I still was very frustrated and apologised to the educator. I advised that I would discuss the situation with my daughter. This would probably be hard through her bedroom door whilst she was going to be placed on timeout but at some point it would certainly happen. As it happened, I could not wait to get an understanding on her thoughts as to why she had acted in the way she did. Without surprise, her responses were that of blaming others, distorting the truth about the events and then feigning an apology. When she stated, “it was only 4 times I was asked”, not the 8 which had apparently been exaggerated (to the word from a 9 year old), I advised in a seemingly calm manner, “you should only need to be asked once, any more is too much”.

This got me thinking about the next generation and how this then translates into acceptable timeframes for customer expectations and experience. How many times do we need to be asked and reminded? When should we accept our actions and start thinking about how we could have done it better? In a time of technological enhancements, professional services business under threat from innovation and banks under fire from regulators, customers are still there trying to find the right service providers.

What has your business done to review and improve its service standards? When has a staff member provided the customer with the “there’s nothing we can do” response?

With this information in mind, what are your expectations for service?

Do you have any questions?