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|22 May, 2018

The four cornerstones of customer service

Faten Abu-Ghazaleh has headed Service Hero, an independent entity that focuses on customer satisfaction and loyalty, since 2010. Service Hero runs a customer satisfaction index (CSI) covering both Kuwait and the UAE. It has so far collected around 200,000 company assessments. A veteran banker, she works with a number of leading firms in the retail, financial and healthcare sectors. She also currently heads the marketing practice for Kuwait-based Khayal Consultants.

Email: faten@servicehero.com

Website: www.servicehero.com

Only 9 percent of companies around the region score highly in terms of customer loyalty

Jargon around customer service is confusing “customer journey mapping”, “customer experience management”, “customer satisfaction”, and “customer care” to mention a few terms - all boil down to the same thing.

If you peel away the noise, there are four foundations for service which need to be understood and mastered.

The four main angles of service excellence are: expectations; satisfaction; importance, and loyalty.

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Expectation is the first of these. An ‘expectation peak’ means a company has an understanding of what customers expect from it. When customers plan to go to a bank, book an airline ticket, or go out to eat, what is it they expect in terms of  service or product quality, staff attitude and knowledge, service time, price and accuracy? These need to be understood for each targeted customer group that a brand serves. If customer needs are misunderstood, how can they be satisfied?

Meeting or delivering on customer expectations in a way that pleases them is the second element of excellence. Not simply matching what a customer anticipates before coming, but trying to exceed it or do it in a way that amazes a customer. A genuine and friendly smile, speedy and reliable service, convenient store layout, and the high quality of the product the customer is there for goes a long way to fulfilling needs.

Once brands satisfy customer needs, knowing what customers value the most and is important to them is the third side of the square. This is done by observation, asking them directly or conducting correlation analysis from a Customer Satisfaction Index (ie. finding how individual service elements relate to each other).

The fourth and final side of the square is perhaps the hardest to achieve but it is the most rewarding one. It is based on a commitment to consistently strive to build relationships with customers which earns their loyalty. This takes investment in time and effort but has long-term returns because loyal customers buy more, do repeat business, recommend a brand, are not price-sensitive and defend it if it is attacked.

To execute on all four sides of the model, it means that a team perceives that its job at an elevated level is not just to fulfill an expectation but to improve lives and create happiness by serving the other.

Service Hero’s most recent annual index – a measure of customer satisfaction in brands – finds that in general, companies are not meeting customer expectations. In Kuwait, they are under-delivering by -4 and the UAE by -7 points. In terms of building loyalty, only 9 percent of companies (out of over 300 measured) have loyalty scores above 85 points. If companies spent more time analyzing and working on their own service delivery, perhaps customers would become more loyal with time.

Any opinions expressed here are the author’s own


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© Opinion 2018

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