No clear service concept? A missed opportunity!

Are your clients disappointed with your service? This means it’s time to examine your communication. Being extremely clear about what you offer makes a radical difference to the experience of your clients, your patients or your citizens.

A service concept describes exactly what you offer and what you need from your client so that he can enjoy or benefit from your services.

We frustrate clients when we aren’t clear about what they can expect

In the following example, there is no lack of friendliness or action. Yet the citizen is still dissatisfied with the service. And the process has wasted valuable taxpayers’ money.

Imagine a typical family outing to the water park. After a bit of fun in the water, you discover your iPhone is no longer with the rest of your belongings. You head to the police post; after all, it’s what they’re there for. ‘No,’ they say. ‘We haven’t found anything. Sorry.’ Bother.

You arrive home and fire up the ‘Find My iPhone’ app. What a great tool! You see the exact location of your iPhone marked on the map. It’s in an apartment building less than a kilometre from your home. You inform the police. The response: ‘Before we can do anything, you’ll have to come down to the station to make an official statement. Sorry.’ Bother. Again.

Once you’re there, your ‘case’ is closed: the police are not allowed to search an entire apartment building for your iPhone. This is understandable.

But what was the point of all that running around and standing in the queue? Why did you have to waste both your own time and a police officer’s? Just for the sake of an administrative declaration? And how did it benefit you or the police? Was contacting them even worthwhile?

The next day, you receive a message from the ‘Find My iPhone’ app: your iPhone is now in the park. Time for action. You call the police again. With your heart thumping and eyes glued to the computer screen, you give the exceptionally friendly police officer the exact location. ‘We will send a team and call you as soon as we are there.’ A little later, the police officer calls you back and tells you the team is on site. You provide the current location of your iPhone: ‘500 metres further along the road at the library.’ The police officer calls back just moments later: ‘My team is there.’ While you’re on the line, you see the iPhone moving on the screen: into a tram, out of the tram, across the street … You once more give the new address. And then, in the middle of all this action: ‘Sorry, but we simply can’t keep on doing things this way. There are other tasks we have to attend to. Unfortunately, we can’t keep chasing after thieves for an iPhone. I hope you can understand this.’

What?! Why did we just go to all that effort? What service does the police actually offer in the event of a theft?

A good service concept leads to satisfaction and efficiency

Being customer-friendly and taking action is important, but it’s not enough. For your services to be genuinely customer-friendly, you need a clear service concept: what can the client, patient or citizen expect from you? And what is not possible? What does a client need to do to make the most of your services?

Would you like to have satisfied clients? You’ll have to make a few choices: where do you want to excel? What practices do you want to leave behind? And why?

In this example, the service concept for the police would have answered the question: when do the police intervene in the event of theft (e.g. as from what value?) and when don’t they? What does the citizen need to do? Etc.

A structured service concept, communicated clearly, leads to satisfied clients, gives the employees direction and results in efficiency. This way, a half-intervention with no result makes room for a satisfied citizen and a worthwhile use of taxpayers’ money.

Written by Stéphanie ‘t Felt Customer Strategy Expert @ Onestone