This is the second article in a two-part discussion around the subject of quality customer service. The series is an amalgam of thought and where appropriate and possible I have acknowledged the source of the material contained in the articles. The discussion is premised on the need to understand the critical elements of customer service and the functions of management to manage the quality of the experience for the customer.
Previously I discussed the five management functions of planning, organising, staffing, leading and monitoring. In this article I address the dimensions of quality customer service.
2. QUALITY SERVICE
We can all recall those personal experiences where we have been on the receiving end of negative customer service and sometimes may be a positive experience.
What is it that makes our experiences negative or positive? What are the key aspects? If we can identify them and see if they are common to all service quality then we have a clear starting point to manage the experience for the customer.
SERVICE QUALITY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.
“…the customer perceives service in her/his own terms. The customer alone pays the freight (or doesn’t) for what ever reason or collection of reasons he or she chooses. Period. No debate. No contest.”
Someone has said that customer perception of service is judged according to five dimensions, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy and tangibles.
Reliability is the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately.
Responsiveness is the willingness to help customers and provide prompt service.
Assurance encompasses the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence
Empathy encompasses the concerned, individualised attention provided to the customer
Tangibles relate to the appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication medium
3. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
The five dimensions apply in all circumstances whether the business is operating from a physical location or on-line.
Some of the key questions that need to be asked are:
Are we addressing the five dimensions of quality in our planning?
Are we organising our operations according to the five dimensions of quality?
Are our staff given the resources and the training to perform in accord with the five dimensions of quality?
Are we communicating the direction we are taking and the improvements we are seeking to achieve in the five dimensions of quality?
Do we have in place monitoring systems that measure our performance in each of the five dimensions of quality?