in Leadership, Leading Projects, Process Improvement, Quality Improvement

Customer Expectations in Service: Are you Listening?

It is said, whatever business you are into, you are ultimately into customer service business. For service industries (healthcare, education, banking, information technology and so on), the definition of quality is much beyond plain ‘conformance to requirements’.

In order to deliver overall quality of service (and customer experience), businesses have to take a holistic view of customer’s explicit and implicit needs. Explicit needs is every thing that can be specified in form of a contract/SLA. That is easy. Understanding implicit customer needs requires businesses to actively listen, build relationships with customers, understand their unique needs , preempt challenges and map services accordingly.

What do customers generally ask for?

  • I have a problem. Solve it. (Purpose/Scope)
  • Solve it quickly OR Deliver it when I want you to (Schedule/Timeliness/Speed/Time to Market)
  • Save me some money, time or efforts (Cost-Effectiveness)
  • Provide what I exactly want (Accuracy/Conformance/Quality)
  • Deliver something that I didn’t expect, something that delights me (Value-Add/Excellence)
  • Deliver the service wherever I want it (Location/Presence)
  • Deliver services that are usable over a long period of time (Sustainability/Scalability)
  • Understand my business as well as I do (Understanding/Context/Clarity)
  • Make me feel important and valued (Service/Relationship)
  • Involve me in service delivery (Engagement/Involvement)
  • Show me the improvement (Metrics/Continual Improvement)
  • Educate me about service and best ways of solving problems (Education/Consulting)
  • Treat me as a human being who can also make mistakes (Empathy)

Are you listening to these explicit and implicit customer needs?

It is easy to follow processes, meet SLA and stay happy being a ‘vendor’ to the customer. It is difficult to engage the customer and build relationship to become a reliable ‘partner’.

It is your choice as a business that really matters.

  1. Very true,

    Sometime its been observed that people over commit and failed to deliver as the customer expectation has already been set to very high leve. Actually it should be reverse – under commit over deliver

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  • QAspire Blog - Quality, Management, Leadership & Life! » A Round Up of My Writing in April 2010 April 16, 2010

    […] in service business – and it was much beyond plain ‘conformance to requirements’. My post ‘Customer Expectations in Service: Are you Listening?’ presented some other important factors that constitute the definition of quality in services […]