When customers purchase any service,
they expect to be satisfied not only with the service, but also with the company that provided it. It is this customer satisfaction
that results in important repeat business; without it, most organisations would lose their customers to competitors. Customer
loyalty is that important to business success and companies must develop service quality in a variety of ways.
Service organisations face a number
of challenges. Not the least of these is to meet their customer’s needs while they remain economically competitive.
Service industries are still labour-intensive, despite technologies that automate many of their processes. And when it comes
to service quality, nothing is more important than good personal interaction between company representatives and customers.
Organisations that earn a competitive advantage over their competitors are those that provide the greatest customer value
through a combination of technological advances and service-oriented employees.
To provide true service quality, businesses
must understand and continually strive to improve their operations; identify problems quickly and move to resolve them; establish
and maintain important measures of service performance and learn to measure customer satisfaction and other results of their
methods. They must understand that even though they don’t manufacture and market physical products, their service is
just as important to their customers, and that a customer’s opinion of their service has as much to do with perception
as it does reality. The latter is true primarily because customer satisfaction is basically a psychological state. (American
Society for Quality, 2007).
While most measurements of a customer’s
perception of a firm’s service quality are obtained through surveys, maintaining a close relationship with them provides
equally important insight into how they perceive the company’s offerings. More often than not, this is as much a perception
based upon their relationship with the company employees with whom they have contact. This underscores the importance of sales
people, installers and repairmen having the proper training in customer satisfaction techniques. Studies have shown that these
relationships play a vital role in how customers view the service they purchased.
Basically, there are steps the employees
of service organisations should take to start down the road to competence in heir relationships with the company’s customers.
These include: Encouraging face-to-face contacts at least once or twice during a project; responding promptly to messages,
inquiries or complaints; keeping customers informed of status during a lengthy project; being approachable and friendly at
all times whether in person, by telephone or in writing; understanding and utilising a clearly-defined service quality, ethic
and policy; paying close attention to details and remembering to do the little things such as sending a thank you for your
business note; a company Christmas card or e-mail confirmations of appointments; always honouring promises and going the extra
mile to be helpful and accommodating.
Service quality is customer service
and it is a practiced ‘art’ that gets easier and better the more you it is applied in everyday operations. Employees
should always remember to stop for a minute, put themselves in the customer’s place and ask themselves, “What
would I do if I were the customer?” (sitepoint, 2002).
Walzak, R. (2007), “Quality in
Service”, American Society for Quality.
Available from: http://www.asq,org/services/ why_quality/overview.html
Thompson, A. (2002), “Customer
Satisfaction in 7 Steps”, sitepoint.com
Available from: http://www.sitepoint.com/print/ satisfaction-7-steps