Identifying and satisfying customer needs and delivering a level of service that meets or exceeds customer expectations.
Customer Expectations: what people think should happen and how they think they should be treated when asking for or receiving customer service.
Customer satisfaction: the feeling that the buyer gets when he or she is happy with the level of customer service that has been provided and the degree to which customer expectations have been met by the provider of the service.
Customer expectations are based on:
- what people hear and see
- what customers read and what organisations tell them about their service
- what happens during the customer experience
- what has happened to them in previous customer service experiences
What do customers want?
The ICS found that customers had ten top priorities which detemined the level of customer satisfaction:
- the overall quality of the product or service supplied.
- the friendliness of the staff dealing with the processing of the good or service.
- the efficiency with which problems and complaints were handled
- the speed of service or delivery of the product in comparison with the promises made
- the helpfullness of staff in general
- the effectiveness with which enquiries were handled, particularly in the initial contact with the business
- the extent to which customers felt that they were being treated as a valued customer
- the competence of staff in completing their takss
- the ease with which the business transaction was conducted and completed
- the extent to which the customer was kept informed of developments.
Methods of meeting customer expectations
1) Conduct market research to find out what the customer expecatations are so that customer service targets the right factors
2) Introduce relevant training in customer service into the organisation so that the workforce can meet and surpass customer expectations.
3) set up quality procedures and set quality standards so that the organisation is geared towards the needs of its customers
4) Monitor performance against these standards so that high quality and good customer service are maintained.
The standard for quality is set by the customer, who is therefore the best place to start. Primary market research can be used to gather comments from consumers. feedback from the market can guide a business towards making the improvements to products and services that are needed to keep its cusomters satisfied.
Secondary market research can be gathered from organisations such as departments for business and enterprise which provides data on the factors and features that are most valued in the market place.
Any quality initiative needs to involve training of the workforce. If customer satisfaction is based mainly on the quality of the actual good or service being provided.
Use of quality or control assurance
The ways in which systems of quality control and quality assurance can improve customers' satisfaction by meeting or exceeding their expectations.
Monitoring quality standards
Any business that describes to a quality standard such as ISO 9001, must regularly monitor its activities to ensure that it is still meeting the standards that have been set. In addition, an independant auditor will moitor the businesses progresss against the standards on an annual basis, to ensure that standards are being maintained.
Benefits of high levels of customer service
Impact on sales volume
Creating a unique selling point (USP)
Impact on selling price
The firms reputation
Trade between businesses