Delivering Quality Service

Five Ways to Deliver Excellent Customer Service
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Provide employee training that gives your staff the tools they need to carry good customer service through the entire customer experience. Customer service can often involve emotions, so it's important to make sure you and others you have handling your customer service tasks are always courteous and respectful. Never let your own emotions overtake your desire to see your customer walk away happy. Listening is one of the simplest secrets of customer service. Listening means hearing what your customers are saying out loud, as well as what they are communicating non-verbally.

Watch for signs that they are displeased, while listening to what they say to you directly. There may be nothing worse than non-responsiveness to a customer who is trying to get help, resolve an issue, or find out more about what you're selling. It's important to respond quickly to all inquiries, even if it is only to say you are looking into the issue and will be back in touch.

Tips for Providing Excellent Customer Service

Some response is always better than none so the customer doesn't feel ignored. You may be surprised what you learn about your customers and their needs when you ask them what they think of your business, products, and services. You need to do something with the feedback you receive from customers in order to make it useful in your customer service process. Take time to regularly review feedback, identify areas for improvement, and make specific changes in your business.

Excellent customer service often comes down to consistently checking in with your customers and making sure they are happy with not only the products and services you're selling but also the process of purchasing, ordering, working with you, etc. If you do that successfully, you are on your way to becoming known for providing excellent customer service.

The Balance Small Business uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. People in service work need a vision in which they can believe, an achievement culture that challenges them to be the best they can be, a sense of team that nurtures and supports them, and role models that show them the way. This is the stuff of leadership. In their book, Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge, Bennis and Nanus point out that the principal distinction between leaders and managers is that leaders emphasize the emotional and spiritual resources of an organization, its values, and aspirations, whereas managers emphasize the physical resources of the organization, such as raw materials, technology, and capital.

The root cause of our quality malaise in America today -- the reason service isn't better than it is despite the fruits of excellent service -- is the insufficiency of service leadership. Too many service workers are overmanaged and underled. Thick policy manuals rule management's belief in good judgment of frontline servers. Memoranda from above supersede face-to-face, give-and-take dialogue with employees. The goal of profit takes precedence over the goal of providing a service good enough that people will pay a profit to have it.

To materially improve service, we must devote more energy and attention in our businesses and business schools to the development of leadership values and capabilities.

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Otherwise, the temptation of service mediocrity will continue to win out over the promise of service excellence. They do not come from some kind of magical service cookie cutter. Having said this, there are some characteristics of service leadership about which it is useful to generalize. Here are some of the most important characteristics: 1. Service vision. Service leaders see service quality as a success key. They see service as integral to the organization's future, not as a peripheral issue.

They believe fundamentally that superior service is a winning strategy, a profit strategy. Regardless of the markets targeted, the menu of services offered, or the pricing policies followed, service leaders see quality of service as the foundation for competing. Whatever the specifics of the vision, the idea of service excellence is a central part.

Service leaders never waver in their commitment to service quality. They see service excellence as a never-ending journey in which the only effective option is to plug away toward better quality every day of every week of every month of every year. They understand that service quality is not a program; that there are no quick fixes, no magic formulas, no quality pills to swallow.

Service leaders understand that service excellence requires a full-court press -- all of the time. They understand that a company cannot turn the service issue on and off like a water faucet. Bean, Inc. But it's just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, unremitting, persevering High standards. True service leaders aspire to legendary service; they realize that good service may not be good enough to differentiate their organization from other organizations.

Service leaders are interested in the details and nuances of service, seeing opportunities in small actions that competitors might consider trivial.

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From: a2zbooks Burgin, KY, U. Maybe if you're talking about a National Registry test. Quantity Available: 4. For example, in our Card business, there is rework if errors are made in the first place -- if remittances are not processed, if billings are incorrect, if establishments are not paid on time, if Cardmember benefits are not properly communicated. Angela Brezovsky about 6 months ago Would you agree that "The Strategic Sweet Spot" in a company should be excellent customer service? If Yes: Continue with the new standard.

They believe that how an organization handles the little things sets the tone for how it handles the big things. They also believe that the little things add up for the customer and make a difference.


But what exactly is excellent service? It is the ability to deliver what you promise, say the authors, but first you must determine what you can promise. Building on. Delivering Quality Service [Valarie A. Zeithaml] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Excellence in customer service is the hallmark of success.

And why Robert Onstead, CEO of Randall's Food and Drugs in Houston, insists on lighting his parking lots so brightly that "customers could read newspapers in the parking lots at midnight if they wished to do so. They value the goal of zero defects, striving continually to improve the reliability of service.

They recognize the flip side of a 98 percent reliability rate, which is 2 percent unreliability. This is why Will Potter, CEO of Maryland-based Preston Trucking Company, has each employee agree in writing to abide by the company's service philosophy which states, in part: Once I make a commitment to a customer or another associate, I promise to fulfill it on time. I will do what I say when I say I will do it I understand that one claim or one mistake is one error too many.

I promise to do my job right the first time and to continually seek performance improvement. In-the-field leadership style. Service leaders lead in the field, where the action is, rather than from their desks.

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They are visible to their people, endlessly coaching, praising, correcting, cajoling, sermonizing, observing, questioning, and listening. They emphasize two-way, personal communications because they know this is the best way to give shape, substance, and credibility to the service vision and the best way to learn what is really going on in the field. Service leaders also employ their hands-on approach to build a climate of teamwork within the organization.

They challenge the organizational unit to be excellent in service, not just the individual employee, using the influence of their offices to bring the team together frequently for meetings, rallies, and celebrations. Walton and other top Wal-Mart executives spend most of their time each week visiting stores, spreading the gospel, and listening to the sounds of the business. Each Friday the Wal-Mart management team reassembles in the Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters for mandatory meetings in which they share insights from the field.

On the next day several hundred headquarters personnel and managers visiting from the field come together in Wal-Mart's famous Saturday morning meeting, a potpourri of results reporting, plans presentations, cheers, hoopla, homespun philosophy, recognition of outstanding performers, bantering, and exhortations for improvement personally led by Sam Walton himself.

With its own communications satellite, Wal-Mart has the capability to broadcast the Saturday meeting directly to its stores. As securities analyst Joseph Ellis once remarked in a speech: "Wal-Mart operates like a small company in terms of how it communicates with its people. One of the essential characteristics of service leaders is personal integrity. The best leaders value doing the right thing -- even when inconvenient or costly.

They place a premium on being fair, consistent, and truthful -- and, as a result, earn the trust of associates. As Peter Drucker writes: "The final requirement of effective leadership is to earn trust. Otherwise there won't be any followers -- and the only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. They recognize the interconnection between service excellence and employees' pride and understand that employees' pride is shaped in part by their perceptions of management fairness.

When executives buy and sell companies as though they were cattle, demonstrating scant interest in what happens to employees and customers as a result; when they inflate prices and then quickly mark the prices down so they can use the term sale, when they train and script salespeople to use bait-and-switch, scare, and other unethical tactics to pressure customers to buy what they don't need -- these executives completely undermine their own credibility on the subject of service quality. Employees see for themselves that management cares not at all about servicing and satisfying customers.

And most employees eventually ask themselves: "Why give my all to a company that lacks integrity? Why bust my chops for a company in which I do not believe? Those imbued with it have nothing but scorn for sloppiness, shabbiness, cheapness, sharp dealing or false fronts. Thus if the instinct of workmanship could be stimulated throughout the population, it would affect far more than the economy.

In a "quality society," honesty, excellence, and the principle of giving full value for what we receive would become the rule of conduct both in business and personal relationships. What began as an effort to improve quality could end in a revolutionary improvement in the overall quality of life. Many executives, however, are not so sure. Many executives are not yet convinced that hard-dollar investments to improve service will come back as profit gains. And these executives may be right. Investments to improve service may not come back as profit gains. Indeed, a lot of money is wasted in organizations every year in the name of quality improvement.

From adding costly service features that are unimportant to customers to spending training money unwisely, it is quite common for organizations to throw money away pursuing better service quality. As a car-rental agent confesses: "The computer training was real good. I know how to do all this technical stuff, but nobody prepared me for dealing with all these different types of people. When service improvement investments lead to perceived service improvement, quality becomes a profit strategy.

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The positive relationship between perceived quality and profitability is documented empirically. In The PIMS Principles, Buzzell and Gale make the point about as clearly as it can be made: In the long run, the most important single factor affecting a business unit's performance is the quality of its products and services, relative to those of competitors. As Frank Perdue, the well-known chicken grower, put it: "Customers will go out of their way to buy a superior product, and you can charge them a toll for the trip. Quality leads to both market expansion and gains in market share.

The resulting growth in volume means that a superior-quality competitor gains scale advantages over rivals. As a result, even when there are short-run costs connected with improving quality, over a period of time these costs are usually offset by scale economies. Evidence of this is the fact that, on average, businesses with superior quality products have costs about equal to those of their leading competitors. As long as their selling prices are not out of line, they continue to grow while still earning superior profit margins.

Exhibit , from the PIMS data base, graphically shows the positive relationship between relative perceived quality and return on sales or return on investment. Customer service is big business when you look at the long-term picture. The essence of services marketing is service. Whereas the marketing textbooks stress the four Ps of marketing -- product, place, promotion, and price -- in a service business the most important competitive weapon is the fifth P of performance.

It is the performance of the service that separates one service firm from others; it is the performance of the service that creates true customers who buy more, are more loyal, pay Frank Perdue's "toll for the trip," and who spread favorable word of mouth. Excellent service differentiates otherwise similar competitors in a way that is important to customers.

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Whereas competing service firms often look the same with similar facilities, equipment, and menus of services, these firms do not feel the same to customers. A genuinely warm greeting from a service provider or the graceful handling of a special request can help one firm seem very different to its customers than other suppliers of similar services. Thus, it is critical to make the distinction between services and service. Competitors commonly offer the same services and different service. Customers respond to these firms because they perceive more value in their offers than in competitive offerings.


Value is the customer's "overall assessment of the utility of a product based on perceptions of what is received and what is given. Customers have to expend more than money to use a service; they also have to bear nonmonetary prices, for example, time and psychic cost. This is so even though quality improvement frequently involves increased investment in technology, marketing research, employee training, performance measurement, reward systems, and so forth.

5 customer service examples that provide great service

What drives down costs most significantly is market share growth. Companies with high market shares benefit costwise from scale economies. Companies with high market shares built through high quality benefit from these scale economies and from higher revenues due to heavy sales volume and premium prices. Quality improvement also leads to operational efficiencies beyond those associated with scale economies.

The reality is that service errors and foul-ups add cost to the service delivery system. From computer time to fix account errors to more telephone lines to handle customer problems, service sloppiness steals from the bottom line. This included the costs involved in staffing departments dedicated to correcting problems and errors.

TARP at over a dozen financial service firms show that poor service and ineffective customer communications cause up to one-third of the total workload. Raymond Larkin, executive vice-president of operations at American Express, makes the point: I can't emphasize enough that quality is as bottom line as a company can get. This is as true in a service business as it is in manufacturing. For example, in our Card business, there is rework if errors are made in the first place -- if remittances are not processed, if billings are incorrect, if establishments are not paid on time, if Cardmember benefits are not properly communicated.

All this generates inquiries and additional processing -- or what we call "avoidable input. The potential payoff from service excellence is considerable. Quality does pay. We know this from the PIMS research.

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We know this from the TARP research. We know this from the many companies we have worked with and observed closely over the years. And we know it from our own empirical research in service quality that we have written this book to share. From this research, sponsored by the Marketing Science Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we have developed a conceptual model of service quality and a methodology for measuring customer perceptions of service quality.

Delivering Quality Service

We also have developed many ideas about what companies need to do to improve service quality. We use our model as a framework for the book as it provides a structure for understanding service quality, measuring it, diagnosing service-quality problems, and deriving solutions to the problems -- the very subjects an executive wishing to improve quality needs to entertain. We refer to the model as the gaps model because it features discrepancies or gaps that need to be closed to offer excellent service.

In chapter 2 we develop the customer part of our model, defining the concept and dimensions of service quality.