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Delivering and Improving Effective Customer Service

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  1. Delivering and Improving Effective Customer Service resources for today available at

  2. Mini exercise • When you hear the words ‘customer service’ what does it make you think of?

  3. The fundamental belief of a customer focused organisation “Customers are the reason for work, not an interruption of work”.

  4. Moment of truth: • Defined as “Any episode in which a customer comes into contact with any aspect of the organisation and gets an impression of the quality of service” (Albrecht 1988). • Good customer service is all about improving the moment of truth

  5. Customer, User, direct and indirect is there a difference? • Customer – person or organisation who receives or uses ‘something’ produced by us, regardless of whether they pay for it or not. Includes internal customers – i.e. your colleagues • User – person or organisation who directly uses the product/service, sometimes called ‘end-user’ • Direct = direct recipient or user. • Indirect = indirect recipient or user. They may be 2 or 3 steps away from us, but our quality affects them. • E.g. I didn’t buy the computer I use in my office, I am not a direct customer of the computer supplier, nor of the purchasing department but I am a user or indirect customer.

  6. What do we mean by the term ‘customer’? • Anyone who interacts with us or the service we provide, either directly or indirectly, or is a affected by the quality of the product or service, whether they are paying for it or not, either indirectly or directly, whether they are internal to the organisation or not. • They do not have to be in a contractual (i.e. paying) relationship with us.

  7. Customer, User, direct and indirect • We have all of these. • MINI EXERCISE QUESTION - Should you treat any of them any differently? Or should they all be treated in the same way ? • Which one is the student?

  8. Internal and external customers • Staff who work within your organisation are internal customers of each other. • You are all customers yourselves • I am your customer • You are my customer

  9. Terms associated with customer service • Customer focused • Delighting the customer • Satisfying the customer • Meeting the customer’s need • Exceeding the customer’s need. • Giving the customer what they want, not what we think they want.

  10. What do we mean by the term ‘customer service’? • For thepurpose of today we will take it mean that it is the set of behaviours which a you exhibit during your interactions with customers and how customers perceive the behaviours. • ‘Service quality comprises the degree to which attributes of the service desired by the users are identified and incorporated in the product and service and the degree to which desired levels of these attributes are perceived by the users to be achieved’(Jacques Horovitz, 1987)

  11. In other words • It’s not always what you do. • It’s how your customers percieve what you do that makes the difference • Perception is the key • ‘manage the student experience’ or ‘manage the customer’s and customers’ perception

  12. But it isn’t easy • We don’t always know what customers want

  13. Difficulties/Problems with measuring and assessing the quality of customer service Extremely subjective What makes one person very happy might not do so for another person Each customer is different and has a different perception of what they expect/need/demand/want With products a customer can see it before they buy it, with a service the quality can only be experienced

  14. It’s not what you do but how others see it.... • ‘The quality of a service is determined by the user’s perception’ (Murdick, Renders, Russel, 1990). •  It’s not what you do, nor the way that you do it, but how your customers perceive what you do and how you do it that determines the quality of your customer service.

  15. Discussion point – in pairs or threes “It’s not what you do, nor the way that you do it, but how your customers perceive what you do and how you do it that determines the quality of your customer service”. • To what extent do you think that the above statement is true or false?

  16. It’s easy to spot ‘poor quality’, sometimes difficult to identify good quality. • When evaluating whether or not a product or service meets his or her needs a customer will typically wrap everything into one. • This means that ‘everything’ to do with the product /service is considered together as ‘part of the overall package’. What this means is that for us to be able to provide a quality product/service you have to get everything right. The overall package.

  17. Getting it right - the overall package • Getting some of it right, or some of it ‘perfect’ (whatever perfect is) is no good if something else isn’t right. So your ‘perfect’ service may be let down and regarded as poor by the customer by the surly member of staff who takes 3 days to return a customer’s phone call because they have ‘better things to’…..and that’s a problem because we are all in it together…

  18. Exercise you can do later on ‘the overall package’ • What do you think might typically form part of our ‘overall package’ from a customer’s perspective? • And to what extent do you always ‘get it right’

  19. Students as customers Question for you What types of ‘things’ or attributes are student customers likely to consider as being part of our overall package? What about parents of learners?

  20. Customers will typically consider all the following as being ‘part of the package’: • Consistency. • Speed and timeliness of delivery. • Accuracy of paperwork and information. • Courtesy of telephone answering. • The value of information you give e.g. accuracy and ‘useability’ of any instructions or guidance. •  The attitude of staff - can do or “not my job guvnor”

  21. Getting it right the overall package • Customers include everything as ‘part of the package’ - so you can never us the excuse – “that is the other department’s responsibility”, or “It’s central admin’s fault”, or “It’s a computer problem that caused it”. • A customer expects everything to meet their expectation – so you have to ensure that everything which forms ‘part of the package’ is ‘spot on’ – even if part of the service is outside your control or authority. And that is rather difficult to do.

  22. The two dimensions of quality customer service • 1 procedural dimension • Systems, procedures and processes - the way “how” things get done. The mechanisms by which customer’s(’) needs may be met. Normally they are systematic, formal and organised. We can influence but not control • 2 personal dimension • The human or interpersonal side. We can control

  23. Personal dimension • The human or interpersonal side includes the attitudes, behavioural patterns and verbal skills which are present in every interaction with the customer. • It’s easy to lose sight of how important the personal touch is. Things such as our: appearance, attitude, communication style, telephone manner, friendliness, etc

  24. An organisation can manage the procedural dimension. • An organisation can help develop the personal dimension and set standards. • As individuals you can improve, develop and enhance your personal dimension. • Both are necessary

  25. QUESTIONS • How do your customers see you? • Is it a pleasure to do business with you? • Do they look forward to it? • Are your systems easy to use? • Are your people easy to deal with? • Are staff friendly and helpful? • Do they enjoy contact with you? • Are they delighted with you?

  26. Question • How do you think our students see us?

  27. Service characteristics • Before you can systematically start to improve your service you need to understand its characteristics. • The next exercise will help you do this.

  28. What are your characteristics? Exercise • What are our service characteristics? • See white coloured handout What Are (y)our service characteristics? • Complete the handout sheet in pairs or threes and then we’ll discuss the results.

  29. What are your characteristics? Exercise • Your results ? • If you had to draw a picture of this what would it look like?

  30. Now an exercise on customer care

  31. Excellent and poor customer service exercise • See green coloured handout sheet ‘customer care exercise’. • Think of two examples which you regard as being excellent customer service; one from inside the univ or CES and one from outside. • Thinks two examples which you regard as being poor customer service; one from inside. • For each example identify: • The key factors that contributed to the experience, • Your feelings and reactions at the time, • Your feelings and reactions now.

  32. What did you list for excellent customer service? • ?

  33. Typical factors you might have listed for excellent customer service • Knowledgeable and friendly staff • Professional manner of staff • Staff listened to me • They did what they said they would do • They seemed to care • They responded to me promptly • They seemed genuinely concerned • They smiled • They treated me as a real human being; not a distraction • They seemed proud of what they did and of the organisation • Courteous, friendly and efficient service

  34. What did you list for poor customer service? ?

  35. Typical fact is you might have listed underpoor customer service • Nobody seemed to have a clue what they were doing • Nobody explained • I was kept waiting • They ignored me • They treated me as though it was my fault • They never got back to me; I had to chase them • They blamed it on the system, the managers, the computers, their suppliers, • They fobbed me off • They were busy doing something else and I was an interruption and a distraction from their main work

  36. How long did your reactions to poor customer service last? • Hours • Days • Weeks • Months • Years • A lifetime And how many people have you told about the poor service?

  37. Typically • Feelings about really bad experiences last for many years. • We tell at least five other people (and how many people do they then tell?). • The organisation rarely knows how badly we feel

  38. Some fundamentals…

  39. 4 fundamental principles for delivering good customer service 1 the organisation is fully committed to providing excellent customer care and the customer is the key focus throughout the organisation. 2 all staff are aware of and committed to, the vision of excellent customer care. 3 all staff are trained to provide the highest quality customer care. 4 systems and procedures are designed to enhance customer care. (F & R Bee 2003 reprint)

  40. Mini exercise • Draw an annotated picture of what you perceive to be the essential characteristics a person who is able to provide excellent customer service. • Be prepared to explain any aspect of your diagram

  41. Mini exercise • Draw an annotated picture of the ideal, or best environment for providing an excellent customer service. • Be prepared to explain any aspect of your diagram.

  42. How do we know if we are measuring or meeting our customer’s needs? • It’s often a problem. There are a number of reasons for this: • We tend to rely on anecdotal evidence. • We tend to only really believe the positive things but often don’t want to hear the negative things.

  43. How do we know if we are measuring or meeting our customer’s needs • We tend to over rely on the opinions of a small number of highly articulate people or those of high status, or the ones who we see the most frequently. • We tend to ignore the views of customers who we don’t like or who we believe are ‘difficult students’.

  44. How do we know if we are measuring or meeting our customer’s needs • We tend to ignore the views of one-off or new customers as they don’t understand our systems.

  45. How do we know if we are measuring or meeting our customer’s needs • We tend to rely on feedback from complaining customers which might give us a distorted picture of the situation. • Conversely we tend to rely on a lack of customer complaints as being an indicator that everything is OK and our customers are all very satisfied. WE MAY BE WRONG!

  46. How do we know if we are measuring or meeting our customer’s needs • We tend to over rely on outdated conceptions about our organisation’s customer service - if it worked well 3 years ago it must still work well today. • We tend to over rely on complaint filtering systems. Often only very major complaints get dealt with. Minor ones tend to get filtered out so we don’t know about them so we can’t do anything about them.

  47. Captive customers • Internal customers are often captive, that means we can’t go anywhere else for the service. • E.g. You have to go to our finance dept to sort out an invoice? • You can’t control what they do; but you may be able to influence them in some way.

  48. Captive customers and poor service • What often happens with poor internal service is that we bypass the system, we ring up somebody else instead perhaps, or do it ourselves. • The net effect of this is detrimental to the efficient and effective working of the organisation.

  49. Internal customer reputation • It’s very easy to get a reputation for being unhelpful, never delivering the goods on time, not knowing what you doing, being obstructive. • Probably everybody in this room can think of at least one person they have to deal with to which the above applies???? • Do you bypass the system and work around the unhelpful person in order to get the job done?

  50. Are you Tour Ready? • Tour Ready •  The concept of organisation always being “presentable” should the Queen or other person such as a major new customer decide to pop over and have a quick tour of your area. • What would their impression of your organisation be?