When is the last time you have made a purchase decision based on an online review?
As for many of us, it will probably not be long ago. Globalization, new technologies, education, information, transparency and the increased choice of products and services have increased competition on the market for all businesses. All this has given a new centrality to customers and their experiences: consumers are more and more interested in the experiential and emotional quality of their purchases, and existing and prospective customers are influenced by the opinions of others, which can have a disproportionate impact on an organisation’s reputation and its success or failure.
For this reason, it is no longer enough for organisations to deliver the basic services and products expected by customers. To be successful and to stay ahead of competitors, it is essential to delight customers by providing outstanding experiences. In other words, in an era of increased competition and servitisation, businesses need to achieve “service excellence”.
Luckily, European Standards can help them: the objective of CEN/TS 16880 ‘Service excellence - Creating outstanding customer experiences through service excellence’ is to set out guidance for the achievement of service excellence in order to create outstanding customer experiences, exceed customer expectations and achieve customer delight, in all organisations.
The Technical Specification defines “service excellence” as the ability to create outstanding customer experiences, which consist of moving beyond foundations such as the core value proposition and a developed complaint management and embracing the ability to provide individual and surprising service. These two levels create an emotional connection with the customers, thus giving the business a strong brand image and attractiveness to new and existing customers as well as competitive differentiation.
Achieving service excellence is not an easy feat, as it requires the inclusion of all business aspects and investments in people, infrastructure and research. Therefore, TS 16880 provides a guide to enable organisations to provide regularly outstanding customer experiences. The approach it proposes is based on eight main elements:
- Designing and renewing outstanding customer experiences
- Service excellence vision, mission and strategy
- Leadership and management commitment
- Employee engagement
- Service excellence culture
- Understanding customer needs, expectations and desires
- Service innovation management
- Managing customer experience related processes and organizational structure
TS 16880 provides detailed guidance for the implementation of all these points. Taken together, the eight elements provide a comprehensive approach, allowing the organisation to achieve customer delight. Figure 1 offers a clear illustration of this process.
Figure 1: Service excellence model
TS 16880 is a horizontal standard, which can apply to all organisations offering services, irrespective of their sector: thanks to it, businesses can get clear benefits, providing unforgettable experiences to their customers and building long-lasting loyalty. Service excellence leads to business excellence!
CEN/TS 16880 was developed under the stewardship of CEN/TC 420 ‘Service Excellence Systems’, now disbanded, whose Secretariat was held by DIN, the German National Standardization Body.
For more information, please contact Alina Iatan
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