How to avoid the customer charter eye roll

There is nothing more important to your organisation and the relationship you have with your customers than the promises you make and keep.

A customer charter should be the culmination of your promises. It should clearly state what you will and won’t do, set expectations and state how you will be accountable for meeting them and what will happen when you don’t.

I’ve been working with a client on a customer charter and so I thought I would share seven things I’ve found through the process that might help you in yours:

1. Don’t treat your charter as a marketing document

A customer charter should not be treated as just a marketing or customer service document. Make sure you connect it to your whole organisation.

2. Don’t be aspirational

Your charter should not be aspirational. If you can’t do it, don’t include it.

If there are things you would like to be doing, but aren’t yet, then get them in place and then talk about them.

3. Map your customer’s experience

What does it look like? How many people do they have to talk to? How long does it take to contact them? What goes on behind the scenes inside the organisation that impacts them?

Chances are it will be the most enlightening part of the entire process and give you a completely different view of the organisation and what it can do (as opposed to want to do).

4. Be clear

Say what you mean. Fuzzy language is the enemy of setting expectations that your customers can understand. I talked about this one in more detail here.

5. Trial it first

Make sure you can do it internally and meet your performance measurement targets before you promote it and tell customers.

Inability to deliver on promises is the #1 reason why charters often get a universal eye roll from customers.

6. Survey your employees

Make sure your staff understand the expectations you are setting and why. If they don’t, keep running trials until they do.

7. Give it teeth

By this, I don’t mean have measures attached that monitor your performance – that’s a given. Too many charters put an onus on the customer to “catch out” the organisation, with disclaimers such as “if we fail to deliver on the terms of this charter, notify us within seven days to claim your…” I want to see the charter that has accountability built-in and self-penalises for failing to keep the promises made.

If you incorporate these things into your customer charter development process you’ll end up with something that not only sets the bar for the promises you can keep – you’ll have a much better insight into your organisation and your [Bob] as well.

See you next week.

Michel is an independent adviser and advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan


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