In my last article for The Business Therapist blog, I wrote about Quality Costs as well as Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA). This new article is also related to quality management. However, it’s focused on quality measurement in the service offering. If you are a service provider, keep reading this article, the goal is to help you better understand how to measure your client’s satisfaction.
Service Quality Management for Beginners
Evaluating how consumers perceived the quality of services used to be a difficult task. Different from a product offering that often has a quantitative indicator for quality measuring (for example, physical dimensions or efficiency indicators), the service offering quality is much more subjective to measure.
Determining service offering quality depends on human perception of the service provided, which is not an exact mathematical valuation.
Fortunately, there are good tools available that solve this measurement challenge. The most popular is called SERVQUAL. SERVQUAL is a multiple-item scale designed to measure customers’ service quality expectations and perceptions. The multiple-item that allows this measurement is based on the five-service quality dimensions: Tangibility, Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance and Empathy.
Tangibility – Tangible aspects of the service offering, like the appearance of the physical facilities, equipment, also include personnel and communication materials. For a hospital, for example, details such as cleanliness and noise emission are essential inputs for tangible aspects evaluation.
Reliability – Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. The service providers who don’t deliver what their customers are expecting, (especially those outcomes related to the core service attributes) often have a serious problem with customer loyalty.
Responsiveness – The business’s ability to provide prompt service to the clients. Responsiveness can also include the flexibility necessary to meet the customer’s unique needs; the ability to customize the service.
Assurance – Assurance is related to trust and confidence, often a result of the employees’ knowledge and courtesy. To be successful in this aspect, customers need to feel that the employees and the company as a whole, care about them.
Empathy – Empathy is the willingness to solve the customer’s problems as though it is a company problem, which is directly related to the assurance aspect. One example of empathy is an airline helping a customer who missed a flight, even though it was not the company’s fault. Instead of blaming the customer, a company with empathy looks for a problem solution.
How does SERVQUAL tool work?
The SERVQUAL approach is quite simple. The primary objective is to measure the gap between customer expectation and customer perceptions. To accomplish this, we have to create two forms. The form’s questions must be related to the five dimensions explained above. The questions from both forms need to be related. For example, if you asked, “What is the importance of new equipment in this business?” in the first form, you have to add the following question in the second one: “How new is the company’s equipment?”.
The guideline is to use numbers from 1 to 7 to answer the questions. Using the example above, a “1” answer to the first question would mean that new equipment is not important to the company at all. Alternatively, a “7” score would mean that new equipment is vital to this business (in the customer point of view). Apply the same logic to the second question; a score of “1” means the company has old equipment and a “7” means the equipment is new.
If you are looking for more information regarding service quality management, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.