Airlines, cruise ships, and hotels rank their services according to quality indicators. What if organizations that served people did the same? How would an evaluator appraise your services? Rather than mints on pillows, wider seats or better views, your quality measurements might include people’s impressions of the organization that they gained as customers, staff or volunteers.

In one workshop, a group of experts was asked to recall a personal experience during which they received exceptional service. Although not all of their stellar experiences had the same attributes, the participants discovered a great deal of overlap. Working together, they agreed on the following list of “excellence” indicators:

  • Convenient
  • Helpful
  • Rewarding for those who received service, the staff, and others
  • Informative
  • Researched, well-prepared and thought-out
  • Inclusive of meaningful choices
  • Flexible,
  • Empowering
  • Multiple positive benefits in people’s lives
  • Successful in surpassing customer needs
  • Pleasant
  • Transforming (sometimes)
  • Fun (always)

How many of these qualities do your service users experience? What would happen if you asked your customers to rank your activities on some or all of these?

To start moving toward first class, focus on one quality each month. At each staff, committee or board meeting spend a few minutes brainstorming how to increase this quality of your services. Write the question, “How can we be more flexible?” on the whiteboard in your conference room, on the top of your to-do list and in your interoffice memos. One time a week jot down all the ideas you heard. At the end of a month, pick one action to implement.

Select another quality the following month. Working this way, in just over a year, you can shift toward first-class services throughout your organization.

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit  CEO Library.

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