Monday, May 30, 2011

Great Service Attracts Customers

While it isn't rocket science, many people and organisations forget that consistently providing great service attracts customers to your organisation. Referencing long time researcher and author Leonard L Berry, Gary Ryan explains this fundamental concept.

Leonard Berry (1995) has long advocated that great service attracts customers. This is because there are so many companies who are poor at service delivery.

It is therefore easy for customers to differentiate between good and poor service companies and providing the benefit that the customer receives is more than their burden for obtaining that service or product, customers will continue to be attracted to great service.

Berry also highlights that a large benefit of great service is that positive word-of-mouth advertising is generated by great service. The internet has made that easier than ever. People use Facebook every day to 'Like' positive updates about products and services from their friends. The same is also true for poor service.

Great service attracts customers. Poor service pushes them away.

Which category is your organisation in?
Copyright Gary Ryan 2011

Quote from a research participant
For a long period of time my friend had been telling me about this bakery near where she lives. Finally I went there. She was right! The people and the ‘taste bud delights’ were fantastic! You should go there too.

Join Gary at the OTM Academy to discover more about the OTM Service Strategy and creating an organisation that matters!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who is The Customer?

Many people don't like the term 'customer service' for good reason. However, this doesn't mean that the principles of 'service excellence' don't apply to how they go about doing their work. Gary Ryan explains how 'service excellence' enables you to exceed expectations no matter what you call your 'customers'.

Many people get hung up on the word ‘customer’. This is the challenge with the concept of ‘customer service’ because many people think that they don't have 'customers'. And maybe they don’t. Maybe they have clients, colleagues, administrators, staff, stakeholders, lawyers, doctors, labourors, community members, students, guests and any other label that you can think about. The issue is not the label; the issue is the ethic behind how you treat people.
Another way of looking at it is to say that 'the customer' is anyone who receives the output of your work. Anyone.
This is why we prefer the term, “service excellence” over “customer service”. Unfortunately many people think that they don't have 'customers' (because they use a different term) so they conclude that service has nothing to do with them. But it has everything to do with them. Everyone is your customer. Everyone.
Copyright Gary Ryan 2011
Research Participant
You know that I can’t stand the word ‘customer’. The people I serve are staff, not customers. I find out what they want and I do my best to exceed their expectations every time. So I wish people would stop saying that I have to be ‘customer’ oriented. I’m staff oriented and that is what is important!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gap 5 - The Perceived Service-Quality Gap

The final gap is the perceived service that the customer has of their experience in relation to their original expectation of the product or service. Ideally there is no gap here or, if there is a gap, it is in the context that the perceived service level is higher than original expectations.

What gap, if any are your customers experiencing?
Copyright Gary Ryan 2011
Quote from a research participant
You know they don’t really have to do all that much. If they just met my expectations I’d be happy. But they really don’t seem to care. And as soon as I get a chance to go somewhere else I will. And they won’t even know what happened to me. It’s a shame, really. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gap 4 - The Market - Communication Gap

If you say that you will respond to online customer feedback within 24 hours and you consistently take 48 hours to do it, then you have created a Market - Communication Gap.

The local barber who cuts my hair has two signs out the front of his barber’s shop. One sign says that the shop will be open at 8:30am. The second says 8:45am. The barber is rarely there before 9am. He has no idea how many people have looked in his window when he wasn’t open when he advertised that he would be.

My expectations are consistently not being met. One day a new barber/hairdresser will move into an empty shop in the shopping strip. What do you think I will do?

What Market - Communication Gaps are you creating?

Why not use this article to catalyse Conversations That Matter® within your team or organisation.
Copyright Gary Ryan 2011
Quote from the barber

Sorry mate. I know that I said sorry the last couple of times but my car broke down and I had to wait for my wife. Sorry mate.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Human error drives the service - delivery gap

Gap 3 - The Service - Delivery Gap
Even after all the systems and processes have been created, both the automated and human elements of the system must do what they are supposed to do. System errors or breakdowns and humans not doing what they are supposed to do can create immediate service gaps. No system or human is perfect or infallible. As such your organisation must continually focus on minimising system and human errors. In addition, know what you will do if a Service Delivery Gap does occur. 

A local small business operator has a sign on his door that he will open at 8am. His staff are never there by 8am despite being employed to be there at that time. Consistently being late on a personal level creates a service delivery gap for an organisation.

What are your service-delivery gaps?

Copyright Gary Ryan 2011
Quote from a research participant
Ultimately your staff have to do the right thing. It’s important to have the best systems and processes that you can, but ultimately your staff have to do the right thing. They have to properly implement what they are supposed to do.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What is your service-quality gap?

Gap 2
It is one thing to be able to understand the expectations of those you serve. A gap can emerge if your translation of those expectations into service standards is inaccurate.

Service standards are effectively the systems and processes that you put into place to ensure that you can consistently meet the expectations of your customers. This is very easy to get wrong and requires a high understanding of the expectations of your customers, as well as a high level of understanding of how your organisations works if you are to minimise this gap. Hiring the right people with the passion to serve, and supporting them with appropriate service standards is critical for minimising this gap.
Copyright Gary Ryan 2011
Research participant
The members said that they wanted the gymnasium to open at 6am. So I employed the staff to start their shift at 6am. The members were still not happy. I was confused. When I asked them again why they weren’t happy they said, “We told you that we wanted the gym open at 6am, not ‘opening’ at 6am. There’s a difference!” Finally I understood. The staff would be paid to start at 5:45am so that the gym would be truly open as had been requested. I had been wrong. I had misinterpreted the expectations of the members.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How large is your Management Perception Gap?

This is a post in a five part series, each of which will explain one of the gaps.

Over two decades ago Parasuraman, Weithaml & Berry (1988) introduced the concept of Service Gaps. Each gap contributes to an organisation’s capacity to meet or exceed the expectations of its customers and the cumulative effect of the gaps have the potential for significant performance failures. The gaps are as relevant today as they have ever been.

The first gap is known as the Management Perception Gap.

Gap 1 The Management Perception Gap

A gap can exist between managements understanding of customer expectations and the actual expectations of customers. If management get this wrong, everything else they do will be wrong and the service gap is likely to grow exponentially. Organisations must do everything in their power to minimise the chances that Gap 1 exists. When was the last time your checked your perception of your customer's expectations against reality?

Copyright Gary Ryan 2011
“Service. If you haven’t got it, don’t even bother getting out of bed if you want to be a senior leader.  It’s such an entry level requirement it isn’t even worth talking about it.”  (Jack Welch, ex GE CEO)