One of our CEAs is an expert on quality management and had an interesting story to share on Service Quality. He prefers to remain anonymous.
Service Quality is a term that many know but only a few understand the true science behind it. The business environment today is so much more dynamic compared to the days of our baby boomer parents. Today, messages travel across cyber space within a fraction of a millisecond, which means businesses can flourish and can also close out very quickly. The “service” industry is often misclassified as food and beverage-related. Fact is that, any business involved in any form of selling, is considered part of the service industry. This is where the real competition comes to play.
Quite literally, comparing mangoes to mangoes, I buy mangoes from a certain “manang” (old lady) near where we live. Manang’s mangoes cost more than if I were to buy from the closest supermarket. Here is why I choose manang: manang is honest, when the mangoes are not 100% to her liking, she will inform me and present other fruits as options. Manang recognizes me as a person, not just another customer, she knows how I like my mangoes (as a peculiar practice, I like to buy my mangoes free from blemishes, which means they are not completely ripe, more like 98% ripeness). Manang is very knowledgeable about her mangoes and where they come from, the varieties and even serving suggestions! A simple buying experience will turn into a warm and fuzzy feeling — I am a valued customer. Shift in paradigm: now I am at the fancy grade supermarket, the mangoes are blemish-free, the price is 15% less than manang’s mangoes, it is a very convenient location, very comfortable atmosphere, the staff are very courteous and well-groomed. When I asked about the mangoes here, the answer is very corporate, almost as if I am prying into the industry’s secret to ask where those mangoes come from. It is a hit or miss shopping experience. I would rather pay the 15% price premium for manang’s mangoes and be recognized as a valued customer.
Manang has successfully created her own “brand” and a loyal customer base, her mangoes are sold out as soon as she puts them on display. Why businesses neglect the basic fundamentals of customer engagement is beyond my comprehension. As businesses grow and the many tiers of management are created, customer engagement level diminishes.
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The power of computers has taken us such a long way in improving customer service management. But how can business owners like us take advantage of having customer data on file? Which information is best to ask from customers? Email, home address, or cellphone? (Or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype?)