In my last post on the five key dimensions of service quality, we considered what we can do to transform the service experience through the tangible aspects of the service we provide. Here we consider what we can do to transform the service experience by clearly communicating to our customers that we care about them. Our customers will have little regard for us until they know that we have empathy.
Recall that the name RATER is an acronym with each letter representing the first letter of one of the five key dimensions of service quality. They are:
R eliability: Our ability to provide what is promised, dependably and accurately
A ssurance: Our knowledge and courtesy, and our ability to convey trust and confidence
T angibles: Our physical facilities and equipment, and our appearance
E mpathy: The degree of caring and individual attention we provide to customers
R esponsiveness: Our willingness to help customers and provide prompt service
Empathy, in the RATER model, is defined as the degree of caring and individual attention that we provide our customers. I assume that, if you are reading this, you truly care about your customers and about their needs and goals. However, despite our good intentions, our customers may not feel that we do. We may feel one way, but be doing things that suggest something else.
Empathy is another case where perception truly is reality. Our customers will pick up clues about how much we care by the simple interactions that take place between them and our company. Every interaction needs to consistently reinforce our empathy for the customer.
As you ponder this dimension of the RATER model, here are some questions to consider:
- How does your staff answer the phone?
- Do they sound like they are happy to receive the call or do they sound more like they have just been interrupted?
- Do they put people on hold and forget them?
- Do they pass customers off to others without ensuring that the call has gone through?
- How well does your field staff consider the needs of the customer? For example:
- Do they park in the “visitors” spaces without first establishing that this is acceptable?
- Are they polite to everyone?
- Do they respect the customer’s property?
- Do they:
- Clean up after themselves?
- Cover desks and office equipment with plastic if they are disturbing the ceiling tiles?
- Check in and check out?
- Ask if there is anything else that needs doing?
- Do they explain the work that has been done?
- Do they treat the customer’s property with evident respect?
- Do they take the time to understand the customer’s needs and goals so that they can make recommendations to help them achieve them?
- How does your staff deal with questions or issues that are outside of their responsibility?
- Do they say it is “not my job”?
- Do they try to find a solution and “stay” with the customer until they do?
Various studies have indicated that the reason most customers give for leaving a business and going their competitor is because they experienced indifferent customer service – in excess of 65% of the time. I find it hard to believe that most companies truly don’t care about their customers, but I do believe it is true that most companies don’t communicate that they do by their actions.
How about you? How is your company doing with respect to empathy for your client base? I’d love your feedback! And as always, please feel free to leave a link back to your own blog if you have one via the commentluv feature here on the site. If you are reading this blog post via email, you will need to locate this post on my website by clicking here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find the comment section.
Next time, we will wrap up by considering the second R of RATER – Responsiveness.
“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
– Zig Ziglar