Customer centric companies are those organisations that have created a holistic business model that is centred on providing exceptional products and services to their customers by aligning their operations to deliver exceptional quality. Customers judge your company by how well you meet their product and service quality expectations. But sadly businesses often pay lip service to quality and instead mislead customers by using advertising and marketing communication to create wrong perceptions of what they actually deliver.
Service quality is the degree of discrepancy between your customers’ expectations and the service that your organisation is delivering to them. Within organisations, there often exist gaps that need to be filled in order to improve service: These may include:
- The manager knows best gap.
While it is the role of managers to know their customers’ needs, wants and what they may need in future, unfortunately, many do not, even though they think they do.
- Service standards gap.
When managers of a business don’t know what their customers want, or when organisations assume that they know what their customers want, unfortunately service quality gaps will appear in organisations.
- Expected vs actual service gap
Needless to say, when a company is not delivering what it should in terms of service , there will be a gap between the expected and actual service being delivered.
- What we are saying and actually delivering gap.
In some organisations there exists an unfortunate gap between what the marketing department is saying about a company’s products and services and what is actually being experienced by customers on the ground.
Questions to ask yourself about your Service and Product Quality
We can define service/product quality as your organisations’ fitness for purpose. Does your company conform to the needs and expectations of your end users…your customers? Perhaps these questions will help you to decide.
1. Are you a listening organisation?
Quality is always defined by the customer. And yet many companies declare that they have quality products and services without first asking what their customers actually think. As a service provider or manufacturer, your organisation needs to find ways to listen to your customers.
2. Are your products and services reliable?
Your customers’ confidence and trust is built on your company’s ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. Customers do not want to be let down and yet employees in some organisations consistently let customers down and get away with it too. In some organisations, products do not meet the expected customer standards, much less the promises made by marketing messages on quality.
3. Do you meet your customers’ basic expectations?
Customers expect you to provide them with the fundamentals first and not fancy and empty promises. If your service delivery contract says you will deliver in an hour, on that promise should you stand. Organisations that fail to deliver on the basics will surely lose customers. Customers trust companies whose word is their bond.
4. Do you put much thought into the designs of your products and services.
Some of the most profitable companies in the world today are those that have put a lot of thought into the designs of their products and services to create experiences that knock their customers off their feet , making them eager to open their wallets , no matter what the price tag. Therefore in order to gain customer loyalty, do not create products and services that are convenient and self-serving. Rather, create them with your customers in mind.
5. How fast do you recover from your mistakes?
Companies fail their customers twice when they do not respond effectively to service and product failures. If your company consistently ignores the saying that “Complaints are a gift” and instead treats complaining customers like criminals, your customers will surely take their patronage and their wallets elsewhere.
6. Do you like surprising your customers?
Most people like pleasant surprises. To develop a reputation for superior service quality, your company needs to surprise your customers with extraordinary products and services. They will not forget you for it.
7. Do you treat your customers fairly?
I grew up listening to the words “ Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This applies to life as well as to business. Your staff should be taught not to treat customers the way that they “DON’T” want to be treated themselves. Your polices and procedures and that small print on your contract documents should be fair and provide win-win situations between your company and customers.
8. Do you work as a team or in silos?
It has been proven that organisations that promote teamwork and a sense of oneness provide better customer service. This is because customer service starts internally. When your employees view each other as customers, they are more likely to pass on the same to your external customers.
In today’s competitive market place, no management function is unimportant in business, however two functions, operations and marketing drive organisational strategy with technology and people at the centre of this integration. The implementation of a customer centric strategy across the whole organisation will determine the failure or success of your company. Marketing and operations need to work together to deliver on the expectations of your customers.
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