Technique 8.2 Determinants of Customer Service

There are 11 determinants of service in which customers make judgments about the quality of service they receive from a service provider. Answering the following questions, by circling "yes" or "no", will identify how you stand on the determinants

i) Do you provide reliability? (consistency of performance and dependability) Yes No

ii) Are you responsive enough? (employees' availability to provide services and ability to provide the promised services reliably and accurately) Yes No

iii) Are you competent? (employees' possession of the required skills and knowledge to capably perform the service) Yes No

iv) Are you accessible? (approachability and ease of customer contact with employees)

Yes No

v) Are you courteous enough? (attitudes such as politeness, respect, consideration and friendliness of contact personnel, and caring and individualized attention provided to customers)

Yes No

vi) Are you a good communicator? (two-way, reciprocal dialogue that keeps customers informed in a language that they can understand and employees listening to customers) Yes No

vii) Are you credible? (traits and attitudes, such as trustworthiness, believability and honesty, and knowledge of staff, and the ability to inspire trust and confidence) Yes No

viii) Are you secure enough? (customers' freedom from danger, risk or doubt) Yes No

ix) Do you understand/know your customer? (the manner in which staff makes the effort to understand customers' needs) Yes No

x) Do you provide enough intangibles? (evidence of the service including post sales, the "feeling" that the customer gets when dealing with the staff, eg assurance, responsiveness, empathy, etc) Yes No

xi) Is the physical appearance adequate (physical facilities, equipment and staff appearance)

Yes No

The more "yes" answers, the better the customer service.

It would be a good idea to ask a range of customers these same questions to provide a reality check on your self-perceived answers.

The relative importance of the dimensions will vary from industry to industry and even from customer to customer.

· · One of the most important determinants is reliability. Irrespective of how good the other dimensions are, customer satisfaction will be low if reliability is poor. Reliability means delivering the basics, ie most customers want a basic service delivered in a competent manner. On the other hand, assurance, responsiveness and empathy are the basis for exceeding customer expectations

· · There is a zone of tolerance which is used to determine the difference between adequate and desired level of service, ie waiting in a queue to be served may be OK for a short time but at some point it becomes a nuisance. The zone of tolerance is situational, ie depends upon the situation at the particular moment when this service is delivered. The zone of tolerance has 3 dimensions

"...- minimum (adequate) level of service

- desired level of service

- perception of actual service delivered..."

Harry Onsman, 2004d

· · Furthermore, there are 5 specific aspects of customer behaviour

"...- loyalty (the strength of the relationship between customer and provider and the likelihood that the customer will do more business with the provider

- switch (the likelihood that the customer might take the business to another provider)

- pay more (the likelihood that customers continue to buy from the provider even if prices increase)

- external response (the likelihood that a customer would complain to other (current and potential) customers about the levels of service provided)

- internal response (the likelihood that the customer would complain to the organisation's staff)

These behaviour intents have a capacity to impact on the profitability of the organisation supplying services to customers because they are associated with the customer's." expectation

Harry Onsman, 2004d

· · A cost-benefit type analysis of the provision of high levels of service quality ie is it worth providing the high level (do the financial benefits outweigh the extra costs of providing the high level of service)?

· · The measurement of productivity should be considered from the customer's point of view, rather than from a production focus


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