Setting Skill Standards for Customer Care
- May 6, 2021 10:45 am GMT
Utilities need to have objective standards to measure customer care – it isn't just up to the individual representative to decide what and how to treat each inquiry or issue.
Most organizations recognize that customers should receive appropriate treatment for their needs, and this means setting skill standards for employees and training them to achieve these goals. This interface between company and consumer has been intensified by the pandemic – making face-to-face interaction more difficult and we now realize how much nuance can be lost on a “zoomer”.
What Are Skill Standards?
Skill standards are performance specifications that identify the knowledge, skills and abilities an individual needs to succeed in the workplace. They are critical to improving workforce skills, raising customer satisfaction and improving the competitiveness of the company. To be practical, skill standards must reflect the reality of customer service professionals in this industry. These standards provide measurable benchmarks of customer care and job performance achievement. They answer the two essential questions: what do employees need to know and be able to do to succeed in the workplace and provide satisfaction to customers?
Also how do employers know when their workers are performing properly? Without this fundamental information, employers will not know whom to hire or where to focus their limited training budgets;
New entrants to the workforce do not know what they need to do to improve their performance; and also educators do not possess the knowledge to prepare students for the challenges and satisfaction of a career in the utilities sector.
The Benefits and Uses of Skill Standards
Skill standards will benefit all of the stakeholders – including business, management, employees, but also educators, students, government and regulators. The success of a skill standards development project and its usefulness to the utility community is dependent on the participation and commitment of all stakeholders. The outcome can be used as a benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness of the program.
How Skill Standards Benefit Employers
Employers can use skill standards to establish the personnel qualifications necessary for applicants. Interviews, performance reviews and productivity can be assessed to a higher degree of accuracy and efficacy. Employers are also able to identify core competencies and so seek workers who have those skills. By matching competencies to critical work functions and key activities, employers can significantly improve worker effectiveness and productivity. Performance-based skill standards also provide a vehicle for varying degrees of job grading and the structure for establishing aptitude-based pay scales.
In addition, employers can use skill standards to:
• Align personnel qualification requirements with nationally-adopted standards of competence
• Ensure appropriate training for each employee and job type
• Regularize measurement of employee training effectiveness
• Assess workers' skill levels based on industry standards
• Match employee competencies to the work required
• Document necessary employee skills, training requirements and performance criteria
• Improve consumer satisfaction and confidence through superior customer contact procedures
• Raise employee confidence and morale by clarifying expectations
• Hike quality, productivity, response speed and competitiveness
• Achieve business targets
• Partner with education and labor to develop college-to-work initiatives
• Interact with labor unions to set high standards for workers and good working conditions
• Ensure satisfied employees and therefore low worker turnover
Skill Standards in the Post-Covid Era
Overall, setting appropriate standards for the post-Covid, and modern distributed-energy age will be important as utilities move into the new era of customer care. Skill standards will be an important metric to ensure employees are able to operate effectively in the new environment.
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