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In interesting new research, students participating in business service from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies were asked if they would be happy if they had a customer who “acted poorly”. The entire study was done as part of a larger study looking at customer service. The same theory applies to high-quality service jobs. If you are happy with the work you are doing, it will reflect in your performance and therefore your satisfaction with the company. The theory also applies to management.
In this particular study, the focus was on service quality instead of function. Two different groups of students were used. One group was a random sample of undergraduate students from a Korean university. The other group of students was comprised of graduate students from an Ivy League university. The students in the business service group were asked if they would be happy if they had a customer who “acted badly” on a regular basis. Both groups of students were then given a variety of service functions; fast food, take out, cleaning, etc., as well as a few simple “customer service” functions that were the same for all three types of service.
After looking at the data from the sample, the researchers concluded that quality did indeed affect how satisfied a person was. Specifically, they found that when the business was providing high-quality service (the quality the customers were praising!) and that the business was paying a price (for that quality) for that service, the employee was much more likely to be satisfied and more likely to remain a loyal client. In other words, the quality mattered! Interestingly, this was true for both men and women in all industries.
The study went on to state that in order to make sure that quality did in fact affect how happy a person was with your service, you must make sure your employees are trained in the fundamentals of customer service. You can’t just hand them a script and tell them to do everything. They need to understand what makes a good impression and what “grounds” a poor impression, in the same way that we all know it doesn’t matter what color shirt someone wears, or how “talented” a person is if they can’t serve their customers with the quality of service they deserve. A business can have great employees, but if the fundamentals are not taught, it is very unlikely that they will ever be able to provide you the quality that you want and need to keep coming back.
Of course, the definition of quality is subjective, depending on who you ask. Personally, I think it means treating people with respect and not just “doing whatever it takes.” If you work at a business where the attitude of the management is built around this definition of quality, it is very likely that your employees feel the same way. After all, you are in the customer service industry and your goal should be to ensure that your clients are treated with respect and are actually happy with the services you provide.
Unfortunately, most management training sessions do not go very deep enough. Most people understand the basics of customer service, such as providing a courteous and pleasant environment, being professional and pleasant to the customer, being helpful, etc. However, it is rare for people to learn the actual definitions behind these concepts. Instead, they are usually taught the “act” of business, which unfortunately does not address the core values of business. (If you hire employees who embody these core values, it is far more likely that they will actually provide outstanding service than those who do not.)
A business that truly understands its customer base must take care of those people who “just don’t fit into the business model.” This includes entry level employees and those who have previously worked at the business or are not satisfied with its operations. Very few business owners ever go out of their way to personally “build” relationships within these populations. However, it is imperative that these relationships are made and maintained as best they can be. The best way to do this is through business services.
In summary, business owners need to understand why business service is so critical to their business success. If they take the time to define what this type of service really means to their business then they will be able to hire the best employees possible. This will increase productivity, ensure customer satisfaction and reduce overall company costs.