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Improving Customer Service with Competency Models


by Jim Hartigan
February 20, 2012


Successful organizations recognize the importance of customer satisfaction to their own sustained business success.  Leadership of innovative organizations knows they need improved selection, training, and certification in customer satisfaction skills to produce successful, customer-contact personnel.  Just one underperforming candidate in the critical, customer-contact role can be an expensive error, costing an organization in lost sales and repeat customers.  With the reach of social media, bad “word of mouth” can be even more damaging!

For this reason, many organizations express a desire to become “best in class” in customer satisfaction and establishment of a competency model is the first step in this journey.  The framework we use at Orgwide, depicted here, illustrates the relationship between four sets of interrelated human resource activities and the connection to a foundation in established Core Competencies.

To be clear, driving best-in-class performance requires development of a number of additional tools beyond validating each job family’s core competencies, including:
  • Interview Guides - Designed to identify candidates possessing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for a particular job family to drive successful performance
  • Job Knowledge Tests - Assessments should align with validated competencies required to be successful in that particular job to ensure team members possess the knowledge necessary to deliver the required business results
  • Performance Reviews - Performance reviews are essential to keeping team members motivated.  To maximize the value of performance reviews, you must measure team member performance against the certified core competencies required to be successful in that job.
  • Individual Development Plans - Coaching and the use of Individual Development Plans (IDP) are best demonstrated practices.  But how can you coach someone when you haven't confirmed the competencies required to be successful?  Align your IDPs with established Competency Models to improve and grow team member performance over time.
The foundation for all of these vital management functions is the development of a set of validated core competencies for each job.  At Orgwide, we follow a proven, five-step process listed below to develop Competency Models for our clients.
  1. Identify Top Performers - Identify incumbents in the position deemed to be most successfully completing the job family's tasks today.
  2. Determine Critical Success Tasks - Develop a list of "tasks" or job duties within the job family that are completed on a regular basis by incumbents and critical to overall success in the job.
  3. Conduct Success Factor Survey - Conduct a research survey of the successful job incumbents to rate the task statements by frequency and importance.
  4. Factor Analyze Survey Results - Rank-order the task statements based on the ratings from the survey.  Review and re-write the tasks based on expert responses.
  5. Validate and Publish - Provide a summary report establishing the psychometric properties of the analyses and publish the finalized competencies.
While organizations can spend into seven digits to complete this type of task, that level of investment isn’t necessary.  What is recommended is if you plan to use your competency model to make critical employment decisions, you should involve an experienced and reputable partner in the validation and creation of your Competency Models to reduce your risk.  Once you have established the proven core competencies of success in a given job family, you are on your way to developing the other manpower management processes to build sustainability into your business.  If your organization is ready to embrace Competency Models, give us a call or send us an e-mail to learn more.  Until next time remember, Take Care of the Customer, Take Care of Each Other, Take Care of Yourself.



About the Author:

Jim Hartigan, Chief Business Development Officer and Partner joined OrgWide Services, a Training/e-Learning, Communications, Surveys and Consulting firm in April 2010 after nearly 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, including the last 18 as a senior executive with Hilton Worldwide. Jim’s last position was that of Senior Vice President – Global Brand Services where he provided strategic leadership and business development and support to the $22B enterprise of 10 brands and more than 3,400 hotels in 80 countries around the world. His team was responsible for ensuring excellence in system product quality, customer satisfaction, market research, brand management, media planning, and sustainability.
 
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Contact:

Jim Hartigan
Chief Business Development Officer & Partner
OrgWide Services
165 N. Main Street, Suite 202
Collierville, TN 38017
office: 901.850.8190  Ext. 230
mobile: 901.628.6586
jim.hartigan@orgwide.com
www.orgwide.com


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