CUSTOMER SERVICE: QUALITY AND PROTECTION
AUTHORED BY - B. TRISHA
Service quality is a metric used to assess how well a firm provides services and satisfies the needs and expectations of diverse clients. Customers frequently express satisfaction with an organization's services when the degree of service quality is high, giving the company a competitive edge over rivals. Understanding service quality will make it easier for you to see how it affects customer loyalty and why it's crucial to service management. In this post, we provide a definition of service quality, describe why it is crucial for businesses, and offer suggestions for successful improvement.
KEYWORDS : Service ,quality, Consumer
What Is Quality of Service?
The capacity of an organisation to meet customer needs helps it stand out from its rivals, which is the answer to the question, "What is service quality?" When a company provides high-quality service, it may boost earnings and enhance its standing in the industry. Services are intangible in contrast to physical products, making it more challenging for customers to evaluate them. The way that clients feel or perceive the quality of the service is another way that it is measured.
Some aspects of service quality are listed below:
Process quality, also known as operational quality, is a characteristic that affects how well-done the production processes are.
Quality of output, often known as technical quality, is a factor that occurs after manufacturing and affects what clients of service providers receive.
Physical quality: This focuses on the standard of the product that is delivered to the client or the standard of the product support.
Customer-provider connections that involve interactions through various communication channels are referred to as the "interaction quality" element.
Organisational quality: An organization's perception or reputation, where customers' trust in a brand is crucial, is what we call organisational quality.
High Service Quality Is Crucial:
High service quality is crucial for a company for the following reasons:
It boosts sales. Customers like to do business with businesses that provide high-quality service, which enables those businesses to gain repeat business and increase revenues.
It lowers the price of marketing. A business may spend money on acquiring and retaining new clients, but it is often less expensive to keep its current clients by providing excellent services.
It draws in motivated workers. Professionals who are driven and skilled may opt to work for a company that offers great service quality if it would help them advance their careers.
It encourages recurring sales.
It removes clients' reservations. A consumer might be on the fence about buying a certain product, but if the firm provides excellent customer service, they might be persuaded to do so since they know they can rely on them to address any problems that may arise.
How Can Service Quality Be Improved?
The following are some actions that a company can take to raise the calibre of its services:
1. Recognise the demands of the clients
A customer may not be aware of the precise issue when there is a product problem. In these circumstances, a company that strives to provide excellent customer service frequently focuses on understanding the precise problem that their customers are experiencing before providing a solution. Customers are actively listened to during this process, and patient problem-solving is provided.
2. Show consideration for your clients
A customer could occasionally make irrational demands. A corporation that respects its clients in these circumstances demonstrates its dedication to its enterprise. Customers feel that the business is sympathetic to their concerns because of this kindness.
Customers feel that the business is sympathetic to their concerns because of this kindness. To enhance the quality of their services and reputation, a company may make sure that the staff in their customer service department are knowledgeable about how to handle challenging clients.
3. Use consumer feedback to make improvements
Accepting consumer feedback is a terrific approach for a company to evaluate the calibre of its services. A business recognises its areas for improvement through consumer feedback. When businesses take ideas into account and put them into practise, it demonstrates to customers that they appreciate their opinions and may desire to change their offerings to better meet their needs. In addition to increasing customer happiness, feedback can help a company perform its daily operations better.
4. Provide a reliable method for consumer engagement
A business that implements a customer contact system well is frequently better able to record complaints and suggestions. By rapidly and easily handling consumer requests, such a technology can improve business productivity. This enables businesses to provide wonderful consumer experiences.
5. Ensure that workers are aware of the services offered by the organisation.
A business can make sure that every employee who deals with clients is well-versed in the offerings of the business. As a result, the entire customer support department is able to coherently describe the company's varied services to clients. Additionally, this might improve customers' perceptions of the company's capacity to deliver high-quality services.
Customer Service Levels
The four levels that are typically used by businesses to classify the level of customer service are as follows:
Customer service deteriorates when a company is unable to satisfy customer expectations. Unsatisfactory customer service can be caused by a variety of things, such as ineffective client interactions or customer care agents who take longer than usual to resolve customers' problems.
Meeting customer expectations
By exceeding customers' expectations, a company may guarantee financial stability. Customers are not consistently filing complaints, which indicates that the company is successfully satisfying their needs. To attract repeat customers, a company might work to deliver outstanding customer service. In order to perform better than its rivals and keep clients, a firm must continually offer and improve the quality of its services.
Excellent client service
A company that goes above and beyond to provide high-level service quality may assist deliver exceptional customer service. Businesses that provide these services frequently have repeat clients. Along with providing high-quality service, businesses that value their customers can also provide them with a variety of perks like discounts, early access to sales, and rewards.
Exceeding clients' expectations
When a business gives customers a memorable experience, it may go above and beyond their expectations. Companies do in-depth analyses of their target markets to comprehend the full buying process of their clients in order to provide such an experience. This level's goal is to continuously provide clients with great service quality by making the most of every contact.
Why assessing service quality is vital
Measuring service quality is critical because you will not have a clear understanding of the service you are currently providing to customers. You can assume that because your company is successful, you are aware of the superior quality of your services. Even having a large customer base does not guarantee high-quality service.
After all, you may be profitable because you are currently the only alternative in your pricing range, geographic location, or industry. However, when a competitor appears, if your customers find your service quality lacking, they are likely to choose the other option and leave your business in the dust.
Asking consumers for their views and ideas is the best way to gauge your service quality.
You will have a better understanding of your clients' demands and what they value from your business once you are aware of how your service quality measures up to their expectations. Measuring service quality will also help you find gaps or pain points that can improve your customer experience.
Measuring service quality will also show you where your company excels so you can build on those advantages when it comes to marketing and sales. Let's say your research shows that a particular feature of your service, like quick shipping, is incredibly popular with clients. If so, you might include that in your subsequent advertising effort to draw in new clients.
The physical look of buildings, machinery, people, and communication tools is known as "tangibility."
Customers frequently want spick-and-span establishments and stores, well-groomed and tidy workers, and professionally written and produced products like menus, websites, and signs. Paying attention to appearance might show that your business values consumer comfort.
Even though it is not the most important aspect of service, aesthetics does have an impact on how people view your company, particularly if your brand promises a premium or luxurious experience.
The capacity to deliver the promised service consistently and accurately is known as reliability.
Your consumers will appreciate you more if you carry out your commitments as promised and on schedule. They want to rely on your company to provide a functional good or efficient service, to get assistance when they require it, and for all of this to occur promptly.
At the core of this dimension is the desire of customers to trust the companies they do business with.
The ability to assist clients and deliver fast service is responsiveness.
It's critical to respond to client issues and complaints immediately, especially in the hectic environment of today. Even when customers are tardy in responding to you, responsiveness is still necessary. Answer swiftly to, at the very least, let customers know that you’re working on their request.
Employee knowledge, civility, and the capacity to inspire confidence are all components of assurance.
Customers anticipate that businesses will be industry leaders in the services they provide. Customers are reassured that they can trust you when you demonstrate your knowledge, whether you do this by presenting your qualifications and industry certifications or by including client reviews.
When clients have several options yet are unsure of who to trust when making a purchase, assurance is important. Imagine that you manage an online store, for instance. In such case, you must figure out how to stand out and win clients' trust given that they are constantly inundated with advertisements from possibly dishonest online stores.
Empathy is the considerate, individualised service the company offers its clients.
Customers want to establish a relationship with your company; they want to feel like they are more than just a transaction. Even if you offer the best goods or services available, you might not live up to your customers' expectations.
Customers want to know that you care about them, so make sure your business demonstrates that. You can go above and beyond customer expectations by teaching staff members how to deliver exceptional, sympathetic service that frequently includes smiles and lively conversation.
Consumers search for traits such as price, colour, or style before they decide whether to buy a service or a product. Experience-related characteristics are ones that only exist after or during the delivery process. Due to the difficulty of evaluating funeral services, advertising, accounting, and education all exhibit credibility traits. Consider a consulting firm as an example. Few clients have the expertise to assess whether the service provider actually performed well. Services and products can be distinguished by four key factors. The use of these as a foundation for researching consumer behaviour and creating marketing strategies has been the subject of heated discussion.
A customer's experience with a product might include their service experience as well. While some businesses concentrate on selling tangible goods, the quality of the consumer experience is determined by how well the product is acquired. For a fast food restaurant to sell more food, boost sales, and boost income and profits, the delivery service must be of a high calibre. As a result, businesses consider the level, speed, and quality of their services as well as how well they handle their clients.
Intangibles are services.
Customers can utilise actual items to test, keep, and use them, but they can only experience services. The customer's knowledge and comprehension of the company's offerings are necessary for the purchase of a service. Since the choice isn't focused on appearance or any other physical attributes, a prospective client can take their time weighing the available possibilities of a service before making a choice.
Services are connected to output.
The likelihood of a firm succeeding increases with the quality of the service. A performance-related service is best exemplified by the hotel sector. A good experience at a restaurant is likely to see repeat custom, whereas a negative experience can see custom plummet.
No one owns the services.
While clients can keep physical documents as evidence of obtaining a service, such as an insurance policy, the customer does not own the service itself. Even though a car repair frequently comes with a checklist, the experience of the repair is in the vehicle's better performance. Although the customer cannot see it, the service is beneficial to them.
Services and providers go hand in hand.
Instead of taking the service away from the provider, a user simply uses it. The service is continuously offered to further clients by the supplier, who also maintains the service. As a result, suppliers play a crucial role in the provision of services.
Services are transient.
A service is only effective while a consumer uses it. In an arena, a musical group offers a service to its audience that lasts the entire concert. The service ends when the band leaves the stage and the audience leaves the building.
Services range in price.
A physical product usually costs the same to every customer, but a service cost may vary. The cost of a repair from a plumber can vary depending on the difficulty of the work, the time needed to complete it, and the materials used. The more complex the work, the more varied this pricing could be.
The service marketing principles:
The solution to a customer's demands and needs is a product or service like this. It's the key aspect of what a company is selling. A service aids in sales and boosts consumer interest in a physical product when it is sold.
Price is often one of the important considerations in a customer's ultimate decision to either select the service or go to a competitor. Although a product's price can indicate its quality, consumers are more aware of the cost of intangible services. To ensure they get the best value for their money, customers are more likely to compare prices before deciding on a service.
It's crucial that customers can get the services they require, whether they do so online or in a physical store. For instance, a patron might think about parking and accessibility when deciding which restaurant to eat at. For a customer looking for online services to make an informed choice, the information must be accessible and understandable.
In order to attract attention, businesses advertise their products to the public using the best channels and tools for reaching their target demographic. Previously, only physical advertisements like flyers and print ads were considered a part of this. Websites, internet advertising, and apps are now a crucial component of the marketer's toolset because to technology improvements.
Service companies rely on their staff to communicate with clients over the phone, in person, or via online live chat. For instance, a restaurant's kitchen and wait staff are essential to its operation. These contacts play a key role in the provision of services and impact whether a consumer has a positive or negative experience.
An organisation that provides excellent service has the correct processes in place. This is a list of steps that must be taken to get the intended result, in this instance customer satisfaction for services. For example, a consumer may consider their hotel stay pleasant if they arrive to find their room clean and prepared for their stay.
Indian Consumer Rights
Consumers are protected from unfair commercial practises by enterprises under the 1986 Consumer Protection Act. The act was passed after several complaints were received by various groups regarding the unfair trade practices of certain corporations which resulted in the loss of money and time for their customers. The legislation aims at protecting the interest of consumers by regulation and promotion of fair business practices among various businesses including retail, wholesale, service sector, etc.
In India, consumers have the following rights:
the right to information about the goods or services that the business provides.
right to pick a company's offering of a good or service.
the right to refuse an offer of a good or service and the right to refuse to purchase any good that the customer does not want.
Right to a refund and the replacement of damaged goods if the product has any flaws.
the right to compensation if one suffers financial damage as a result of a company's (organization's) negligence.
What Techniques Are Used in India to Protect Consumers?
Consumer protection is essential, and in India there are a few different ways to do it:
Businesses must exercise discipline and care for the wellness of their clients. Most issues can be avoided if the vendors decide to abide by the laws and practise social responsibility. Government agencies have the legal authority to impose the rules if the businesses do not enforce them internally. The authorities make sure that these regulations are followed as intended. Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and voluntary groups work to safeguard consumers. These organisations educate the public about consumer rights and, when necessary, fight for those rights.
What Struggles Does India's Consumer Protection Face?
Most likely, you are aware of the numerous frauds that have recently made news. Additionally, customers need to be concerned about more than just scams. Consumer protection laws can be broken in a plethora of ways, from defective goods to costly services.Even worse, the laws that are now in place to safeguard consumers are out-of-date. They don't go far enough to safeguard consumers from being exploited. If we want to ensure that customers are treated properly, these laws urgently need to be revised.
How Can Consumer Protection Be Raised Among Indians?
Why it's necessary to increase customer awareness in India may be a question on your mind. After all, the government doesn't already have regulations in place to safeguard consumers. That's regrettably not always the case. In truth, corporations frequently take their customers for granted. And even when they do make an effort to defend themselves, they frequently lack direction and know-how. People need to be aware of their rights as customers because of this.
What can be done, then, to strengthen India's consumer protection laws? Several things come to mind, including:
Consumers must be made aware of their rights. Campaigns and outreach initiatives, as well as social media and other platforms, can be used to accomplish this.A more robust legislative framework is required for consumer protection. This will make it possible to hold companies accountable for their deeds and give consumers redress in the event that they are mistreated.The enforcement of consumer protection legislation needs to be strengthened. This entails making sure organisations like the Consumer Protection Council have enough funding and resources to fulfil their mandate.
What Steps Must Be Taken in India to Strengthen Consumer Protection?
How can we strengthen consumer protection in India, you may be wondering. Here are a few concepts:
Educating consumers on their rights can be a good place to start. Many people don't even realise they are entitled to certain things, which is a problem. We must ensure that everyone is informed of their options if they are dissatisfied with a good or service.
A more efficient procedure for submitting complaints has to be developed. Consumers currently find it difficult to make a complaint, and this needs to change. People should be able to make complaints through a single system, and the procedure should be straightforward.
We must uphold the law as it is. Because the government doesn't properly police consumer protection rules, businesses frequently get away with breaking them. Bringing the consumer court online will allow the authorities to be stricter when it comes to upholding the law.
We must enact new legislation to safeguard consumers. Many of the current regulations are out of date and inadequately shield consumers from business abuses. We must enact new rules that better safeguard consumers and are more pertinent to the modern world.
The penalty for businesses breaking consumer protection regulations need to be increased. Because the fines are now too low, businesses are encouraged to do so.
The delivery of services must have clear objectives that are focused on reaching the clients and satisfactorily addressing their needs. Failure to meet these standards will result in a loss of clients who look for prospective businesses. Since customer satisfaction is a real justification for offering the services, it must serve as the company's defining quality.
In fact, no business would provide the services if there was no demand for fulfilment. To ensure loyalty, satisfaction must be considered to be a crucial aspect. This steadfastness might bring in more clients and money than the previous successes.