Measuring The Quality of Customer Service is Vital

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.” John Foster Dulles

We know that the problems between companies and customers occur when there seems to be a gap between what companies believe their level of customer service is, versus what customers actually perceive. Given that, the quality of service is now the most critical and topmost priority for customers, it would be prudent for companies to sit up and take cognizance of what customers want, rather than believing what they know to be true. Measuring the quality of customer service becomes a vital imperative, and every company must have strategies in place to ensure that their service is at a level that meets the expectations and fulfils the needs of their customers.

The marketplace is shrinking – given the rise in the number of companies vying for the same customers with similar products, services, offers, and the like. Companies must play their ‘A’ game if they hope to gain and retain the attention of customers, and the most potent way to do so is to keep customers happy and satisfied. In keeping customers happy, the best path would be to check constantly the quality of customer service that a company provides. The fact is that it is at least 10 times more expensive to gain a new customer over holding on to the existing ones. In addition, new customers take time to become profitable, and trust a company, while existing ones would probably already be at the point of sustained profitability for the company – hence losing such a customer would be highly detrimental to the ‘financial health’ of a company. It makes sense then to deliver service excellence consistently, and that would be possible by an in-depth understanding of customers, and measuring the quality of customer service to ensure that the company is on track with meeting and even exceeding the needs of its customers.

Ever since the balance of power has shifted to customers, many companies seem to be scrambling around to ‘accommodate’ this change, and have been unable to keep pace with the dynamic nature of customer expectations. An increasing number of companies, a changed economy, and a market that is overcrowded with products that have little or no variations, are all reasons why companies must provide top class service, and ensure that they constantly measure the quality of customer service in order to keep it excellent. This change in focus bodes well for customers – not only do they continually get superior quality products and the most competitive pricing but also get huge amounts of attention and top class service. The companies that give them all these would be able to attract and retain a larger number of customers. Customer satisfaction is that edge – the potent ‘weapon’, which every company needs today.

The sudden shift of attention to customers has left companies confused, and many still struggle with how to gain and retain customer satisfaction and do it well. They must recognize the need and put in place measures to quantify and measure the quality of customer service and the levels of customer satisfaction it gains. Without such understanding, no business would be able to sustain itself, in the face of such stiff competition. Companies must stop relying on old-fashioned and fickle measures to monitor customer satisfaction – factors such as volume of sales, reports from sales personnel that describe the state of mind of the customers, frequency of complaints, late payments, and other factors that do not remain relatively stable. In order to measure accurately the quality of customer service, companies need to have other ‘counts’ in place.

The most obvious one would be directly ask customers whether they are happy with your company’s service and what more the company can do to make it better. This can be either, through formal feedback surveys, face-to-face meetings, informal emails and phone chats – the idea is to get the customer to speak with the company and directly convey what they believe the company ought to be doing for them, vis-à-vis what currently happens. There is possibly no other method as accurate and direct that would help a company to measure their quality of customer service.

While using customer complaints as an indication is passable, companies must understand that very often even currently satisfied customers could leave, if they get better service elsewhere. In addition, not all disgruntled customers provide feedback or complain – they just leave. A company should at best use a rise in customer complaints to instantly ramp up their service, while simultaneously looking at the issues the customers bring to their notice. The fact is that customers, who complain, are actually providing the company with another opportunity – a chance to identify their shortcomings and rectify them. It is imperative for a company to take cognizance of their weaknesses, if they are to improve and display to customers the willingness to ramp up the quality of customer service.

As mentioned, level of service has become the most prominent differentiator for any company. Hence, in a bid to raise the quality of customer service, every company must know what its nearest competitor has to offer in terms of service. Without such knowledge, it would be tough to better one’s own service, and the possibility of losing customers to a competitor would be very real. It would also be helpful to check with customers that may have worked with the competitor and your company to ascertain who the customer found more effective and whose customer service is at a higher level, and why the customer believes so.

A true measure of the quality of customer service of any company would be to track the customer satisfaction pattern over time. Any dramatic changes, especially showing a downward trend could mean that the level of customer service of the company may have declined over time and would need rectifying. On the other hand, a great indication of good quality of customer service would be the company’s ability to retain existing customers, and bring back previous customers. These customers would be a great source of knowledge, and would be happy to share the reasons they are pleased with a company and its service.

A company’s reputation usually precedes it, and happy customers would bear testimony to the top class service they receive. These customers in turn would further encourage others to experience the company’s offerings and service, thereby increasing the number of new customers, who would come in without the initial apprehension. ‘Stories’ of great customer service become common knowledge, and this increases the conversion rate of prospective customers to buying ones.

The list of strategies and methods to increase and measure the quality of customer service are endless, and it is the onus of companies to seek the methods that would be most accurate for their business and for the kind of customers they serve. Whatever methods a company uses, the fact is that measuring the quality of service is critical to success, and displays a company’s prowess and passion to serve customers to the best of its abilities. For a company, measurement of its service would help it to attract and retain customers, save costs and time, and make a niche for itself despite a crowded and noisy marketplace.

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