How to Define Clear Service, Policy, & Standards

Safety first.
Our Guests are our number one priority.
Ensure great sales performance.

 In business, we hear these words repeated over and over but what is it that translates each of these statements into action? More specifically, how do we ensure that our teams consistently maintain safety standards, provide great service, and achieve strong sales results? The answer is documentation.


Document, document, document. Documentation is the foundation for ensuring success within an organization. Clear and concise documentation ensures that actions are carried out safely, consistently, and at the highest of service levels. Below are three areas in which the most successful organizations use documentation to meet their goals:

Operational Procedures.  Well-defined operational policies and procedures are a huge advantage for ensuring regulatory compliance, guaranteeing consistency in staff training, and for use as a measure in holding teams accountable for performance.  At your front gate, for example, you might detail specific cash handling guidelines including instructions for identifying counterfeit bills, counting change back, and navigating your ticketing system.  Documentation should be specific with very few grey areas.


Guest Engagement.  Every facility should also have a written Guest Service Standard that covers how employees interact both with other employees and with guests. The best Guest Service Standards are designed with an overarching statement regarding the organization's position on the guest experience. For example, Walt Disney World's Vision Statement is short and sweet but very effective:
To Make People Happy.
An organization's Guest Service Standard should include behaviors and processes all designed to meet that philosophy.
Here's a great example of a Guest Service Standard that I've implemented in past positions in order to acheive a higher level of service: 
The Ten Five Rule:
  • As a guest approaches you, you should recognize them. 
  • At 10 feet, you should acknowledge them visually by making eye contact, smiling, and/or other forms of positive body language (like nodding your head or waving to them).
  • At 5 feet away, you should make verbal contact with them in the form of a friendly greeting.  For example:  Hello, how are you today? Or Can I help you find anything?
An effective Guest Service Standard defines guest engagement in broader strokes and with less scripting than you might find in documentation of Operational Procedures.  As an example, the standard might include a broader message about body language: 
Team members must maintain eye contact and smile whenever a team member comes into contact with a guest. 
However, in some organizations, the Guest Service Standard does include specific phrases or words that are tied to the brand or to a level of service quality.  For example, when the MGM Grand opened in Las Vegas, they instructed all of their employees to use the phrase "Have a Grand Day" in all of their guest interactions.  At Chick-Fil-A, it's very apparent that part of their Guest Service Standard includes using the words "My Pleasure" in their guest interactions.  Whether you are using specific phrases such as these or simply defining a broader way in which service engagement occurs between employee and guest, there is no doubt that having and communicating a well-documented service with your team directly correlates to guest satisfaction.
Sales Standard.  In contrast to Operational Procedures and Service Standards, most organizations DO NOT have a clearly defined Sales Standard.  This is a missed opportunity.  The benefits associated with  establishing a well-defined Sales Standard have the potential to significantly impact both revenue and guest satisfaction.  There are three elements to an effective Sales Standard:
Set Expectations.  Clearly define what is required of your sales team.  This includes stating what the product focus should be, how the sales team should communicate information to arriving guests (Sales Behaviors), and the specific sales goals associated with each product.
Team Performance.  Implementing the Sales Standard encompasses several aspects of employee development from training and coaching to recognition and reward.  Sales teams need a roadmap for how to get from Point A to Point B (that's the training and coaching aspect) but they also need the motivation and drive to get there (the carrot and the stick).
Hold Them Accountable.  Sales teams must be held accountable for their performance.  It's always better to hold your team accountable against your well-documented sales behaviors rather than holding them accountable for actual sales metrics (i.e. they failed to perform a specific series of sales behaviors adequately versus they didn't meet their product quota). While it's true that with an effective sales initiative, the right sales behaviors lead to the proper metrics, it's always better from a Human Resources standpoint to hold your team accountable for how they are performing the behavior--or not--rather than whether the guest said yes to a pitch--or not.  A sales team member's poor display of sales behaviors should lead to coaching and documentation for the record.
Have a great week!
"We need, first of all, for there to be accountability, for there to be somebody who is responsible for enforcing standards and holding people's feet to the fire."
      -- Jennifer Granholm