How can I guarantee five-star service?

Bringing Standards of Service Excellence to life.
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Use Standards of Service Excellence

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People want to work in organizations known for excellent service. We have all experienced the person who is clearly not smiling on the other end of the phone, not happy to see us walk in the door, or not willing to help us get to the right office. When we’re looking for help, finding someone eager to assist makes all the difference. Working alongside colleagues committed to providing excellent service makes us feel proud to be part of our organization. It also makes it difficult to leave.

An organization’s reputation is preceded by its level of service. We’ve found that when organizations establish and hold each other accountable to standards of service excellence, a culture of high performance is fostered. High performers attract high performers. Creating and using standards of service excellence at all levels of the organization shows employees and customers that they and the work are highly valued.


High-performing employees want to be part of an organization with:

  • High standards for internal and external service
  • A focus on achieving customer focused solutions
  • A reputation for having high performing employees
  • Standards that guide the way teams work together and with the community

In organizations with existing standards of service excellence, it is important for employees and customers to see the standards being used at all levels. The standards should walk the halls, not just live on the walls. It is important for leaders to create opportunities for the standards to be incorporated into the daily work by:

  • Rolling out the standards to all employees
  • Providing time and designing activities for employees to develop an understanding of the standards
  • Building a presence of the standards throughout the organization
  • Rewarding and recognizing when employees live out the standards with each other and the community


Roll out the standards to all employees.

  • Once standards of service excellence are created, it is important to share them with all employees through a Rollout process that includes:
    • Introduce and set up a meeting or opportunity to share the standards with all employees
    • Provide an overview of the process used to create the standards.
      • If it has been some time since the standards were created, this is an especially helpful step
    • Share all of the standards, along with any behavior indicators aligned to each
  • Ask employees to think about and describe what the standards mean to them and what it looks like in the daily work
    • Organizations may choose to focus on only one standard at a time over the course of several months. The initial rollout meeting will include a presentation of all standards, with a highlight of only one standard for the description activity.

Provide time and design activities for employees to develop an understanding of the standards.

  • It is important to keep employees focused on the standards, by regularly asking them to think about how the standard applies to the work environment
  • Consider allotting a few minutes at team meetings to role play scenarios of the standards in action
  • Encourage employees to ask questions about the standards and any challenges they might face in applying the standard

Build a presence of the standards throughout the organization.

  • Be intentional about role modeling and keeping the standards of service excellence at the forefront by:
    • Including them on posters
    • Creating videos, highlighting examples of service excellence in the organization
    • Adding stories of service excellence on the website or newsletter

Reward and recognize when employees live out the standards with each other and the community.

  • Determine and communicate a process for employees to submit standards of service excellence success stories
  • Create a peer-nominated recognition system for employees living out the standards
  • Ask community organizations or businesses to sponsor a small reward for those recognized for excellent service
  • Close the loop with those providing the recognition of excellent service, to let them know you value the focus on what right looks like

Define Service Standards

Service excellence is about providing high-quality service to both internal and external “customers.” Leaders must define what excellent service looks like. They must also make sure they have best-place-to-work standards that define the way people are expected to behave in their work environment. Does your organization have clearly defined standards in order to deliver aligned services?