Does quality of service matter?
My friends and I were recently talking about how the concept of “quality of service” seems to be grossly neglected almost to the point of its death. Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, service seems to be not quite as good as before. Then again didn’t our parents think that the world was a better place when they were young? Maybe I’m just getting older. It gave me food for thought.
From where could I be getting these impressions? I shared my thoughts with others. We all seemed to have several experiences of:
- Having to chase a salesperson around the store, wanting advice on a product only to be told that he/she doesn’t know much about it;
- Witnessing poor attitudes towards customers such as telling them to look for themselves;
- Getting the wrong order, because there were no checks before it was delivered;
- Calling some administration and being transferred from one department to another to get the right piece of information;
- Going to a counter and having to wait for a long while because employees are socialising together and not paying attention to the customers;
- Calling for support and getting standard answers which don’t correspond to the question at hand.
Quality of service seems to be going down the drain. It is somewhat surprising as, in order to have a competitive advantage, many organisations had for long focused on managing customer satisfaction and loyalty. This was part of a successful strategy. However, with diminishing resources, it seems to be less the case. In recent times, managements have put their priority on cutting costs and in particular foregoing the training of staff. The effects of these actions are more and more visible today. As a consultant, I am particularly sensitive to these telling signs of organisational deterioration.
With businesses and organisations making less investments on what brings quality of service, it could be a major differentiator and advantage for those who do. In order to provide higher quality of service, training of staff is an essential factor. This has a direct impact on their motivation and performance and hence on the quality of service they provide.
For customers, quality of service matters and while resources (including to train the staff) are diminishing, their expectations are increasing. Businesses and organisations need to rethink how they can manage the latter and attain their financial objectives; there is a high risk that they are biting the hand that feeds them. The customer may put up with poor service for a while, but only until he/she finds a better alternative.