Whenever you are assessing a service or task you need to bear in mind the concept of an operational definition. It is the operational definition that spells out what someone means when they ask for something or for something to be done. By way of example imagine I am standing by a table and I ask you to clean it. Before you grab a cloth you need to know the operational definition of what I am asking. Do I mean clean enough to eat dinner at? Clean enough to write a letter on? Clean enough to prepare food on? Clean enough to perform open-heart surgery on? Or even, clean enough to manufacture silicon chips on? Without an operational definition we can’t plan how to do something neither can we judge how well we have done it.
We can apply this to our organisations by asking what is the operational definition of the service we provide. Do we even have one? How do we know how to go about planning to provide the service and how to we judge how well it was provided? Note that it is important to write the operational definition from the point of view of the customer or user. Internally generated operational definitions only lead to confusion, bad service and frustration. Customer oriented operational definitions help toward clarity of purpose, good service and satisfaction for customers and staff alike.