Does Your Service Quality Match up?

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“Excellent service quality improves the customer experience. It is a means to differentiate a brand. Good experiences lead to greater customer and employee loyalty, satisfaction, and retention, and a better bottom line,” –

Modern business enterprises operate in a complex and evolving business landscape marked by innovation, disruption, competition, and market regulations. Every business operator faces pressure from a variety of stakeholders to deliver higher levels of stakeholder value. Competition remains intense and customers have a range of market choices; these factors elevate the potential role of service quality in the conduct of modern business operations. Business pundits have noted that this attribute figures high among customers of all hues in every market. Low quality of service has often featured as a ‘deal breaker’ in many industries. Therefore, brands and businesses must exert themselves to determine if their service quality remains at par with industry standards. We will examine some of the techniques that help businesses to boost service quality in the paragraphs below.

Senior management and corporate leadership must ‘buy’ into the idea of boosting service quality inside a business organization. They must be convinced that this area of activity can deliver outsized gains to the enterprise in the long-term, while driving significant gains in customer acquisition and retention. Ergo, business leaders must act as change agents and empower employees to act decisively. The expert stewardship and corrective measures emanating from the leadership can enthuse the organization to achieve high levels of service quality. In addition, senior leadership cadre should work to inculcate the best practices from academia and business scholarship in a bid to upgrade firm wide quality practices. This approach enables a business to benefit from the latest findings and research initiatives.

Business managers must create challenging goals for each calendar quarter. The intent should be to drive incremental gains in service quality and to register verifiable progress in quality delivery systems. For instance, a commercial telecommunications services provider may undertake to reduce the incidence of ‘call drops’ in a concerted bid to improve the customer’s experience. We note that a complex and heavily regulated industry such as telecommunications does not offer individual operators much leeway. However, the said operator may use the resources and brainpower at its disposal to improve service quality and gain more customers. Interesting insights may emerge in the course of pursuing a challenging goal and this information can help inform the future development of corporate policy and service development practices.

Rewards and acknowledgement are important in the enforcement of quality practices. Employees that register significant achievements must win awards, citations, trophies, and assorted incentives. This technique helps to boost staff morale and upholds the concept of a meritocracy. It also signals corporate intent to reward the sustained achievement of service quality as a competitive benchmark. For instance, a garment manufacturer can elect to reward high performing employees for attaining the least wastage in the use of raw materials. The employee or employees can be encouraged to share their best practices with colleagues in a bid to replicate success. We note that this case of achieving service quality directly ties into the firm’s productivity and helps enhance its profit margins.

Brands and businesses must establish training programs in a bid to train new employees. A basic tenet of such programs must focus on education and instruction in quality management principles. Every employee must gain a fine appreciation of the importance of creating quality products and services. They must realize the importance of individual contribution and must ideate with leaders to refine these initiatives. That said, we note that a training program must be, periodically assessed, for efficacy in a changing business landscape. The outcomes of rigorous training may include sustained gains in terms of higher service quality that match the finest service standards in any industry.

Business leaders and captains of industry must take the initiative to establish quality control work groups with a clear mandate to improve, inter alia, service quality. The members of the group can be entrusted with responsibilities, directives, and the resources to enforce quality benchmarks across the business organization. Managers and members of the group can be assigned specific duties to refine business practices in certain parts of the organization. For instance, a hospitality industry operator can task the quality control group to cut flab from operational expenses. This instance of service quality can help the organization to reduce wasteful expenditure and boost the bottom line. In a similar vein, the food and beverages department can be fine-tuned with a view to improve the customer experience and boost service quality.

The quality of service assumes high importance in modern markets because customers discuss their experiences with a brand or a product. This is essentially word-of-mouth publicity and has a crucial bearing on the commercial fortunes of a brand. High quality of service ensures that the average customer is satisfied and will not create adverse comment on a brand or a product. This is important because hyper competitive impulses can undermine a brand in an atmosphere of negative comment. This poses real dangers and such situations have gained prominence (and negative publicity) in the world of commerce. In addition, the widespread use of social media ensures that comment travels fast; this can damage business prospects and create PR nightmares for a commercial operator. In light of the above, we may state that service quality remains a defining parameter in contemporary markets.

“Under promise and over deliver” is a motto that applies to the best players in the markets. Brands and businesses must make it a point to deliver on their promises because this can define the public image of a brand. A high level of service quality results in ‘customer delight’ – an event that can amplify a brand’s commercial success in unprecedented ways. For instance, happy customers that spend on a certain cosmetics brand can emerge as the best brand ambassadors for said brand. The service quality of the brand remains a central aspect of the customer’s experience. Hence, the cosmetics manufacturer must focus on improving the quality of service in a bid to retain its existing clientele and expand its commercial footprint.

Caring and individualized attention for customers can help a brand to achieve high levels of service quality. Soft skills such as listening to customers, responding with a smile, the quality of empathy, and ease of access can boost service quality by certain degrees of magnitude. Hence, businesses that operate in the service industry should train staff members to cultivate these soft skills. The intelligent application of these skills to a professional capacity can ensure long-term success for a brand or business. Further, soft skills can help businesses to gain feedback from their customers. This information remains vital in creating new products and refining the value proposition offered by a services organization.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the techniques that enable businesses to boost service quality. A systematic approach to such initiatives should ensure healthy gains to any business organization. These gains can be monetized over the long term. However, laxity or slipshod service may generate incalculable harm to a business enterprise. Therefore, commercial organizations must work to attain the highest standards of service through rigorous training programs and inspired leadership.

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