I recently reviewed the research work by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry on the Conceptual Model of Service Quality. Their work suggests that regardless of the product or service in question, customers use relatively the same criteria to evaluate the exchange. Although their research was published in the Journal of Marketing in fall of 1985–it may as well have been written in 2010, internet, cell phones and all!
Of course for an organization to take good care of the customers, the employees and workers need to know what that feels like themselves. In other words, for the most part we can step beyond your customers and think about our employees, partners, co-workers etc.
Whether you’re rating on a five star scale, by thumbs up or thumbs down, 1-10, or whatever, the criteria is summarized in the following points:
- Reliability: Are you delivering what you said you would? Are you doing it over and over? Consistently, accurately?
- Responsiveness: Are you delivering on time? Are you demonstrating a willingness and readiness to provide the service? What’s the spirit of service you are conveying?
- Competence: Do you have and can you demonstrate that you have the skills and knowledge to perform the service?
- Communication: How well do you listen to your customers? How well do you keep them informed?
- Credibility: Are you believable? Do you demonstrate it in your conversation? Appearance? Marketing?
- Courtesy: Friendliness of personal. Is the golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated
- Access: Are you approachable and easy to contact regarding questions? (In today’s world of emailed customer service queries this can be the most frustrating).
- Customer Knowledge: Do you speak the customer’s language? Do you really know their needs and objectives?
- Security: Do your customers feel safe? Can they trust you with their financial information, account confidentiality etc?
- Tangibles: What physical impressions do you leave with your customers? Appearance and condition/quality of facilities? Reports and inspections etc…
What strikes me about this list is two fold: First, the businesses I know that do this well, do business well.–It’s the open secret of customer service. And Second, well, very few businesses do this well