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Responsiveness

One of the five dimensions of the SERVQUAL model of Service Quality is Responsiveness. The usual explanation of this dimension is “the willingness to help customers and to provide prompt service,” suggesting that it is applicable to a real time service experience. After an incident at the supermarket one day, I chose to test their degree of Responsiveness over 24 hours.

At the cashier check out station near to closing time, she tried every code she could and none worked for the Sunflower Seeds I had picked up. She left the station, went to look at other packs, spoke with another employee, then came back and apologized, saying she could not sell it because the code was not in the machine.

I had to go back into that supermarket the next day, so decided to test their responsiveness by picking up the Sunflower Seeds again. Success! I was a happy customer. 

Imagine if the cashier on the first night had passed on the issue, and the responsible person did not take action. Of if the cashier did not pass on the problem at all. The customer would have noticed it. The challenge of leaders is to let each employee see how their action directly impacts on service. On this occasion, there was a positive outcome. When I next see her, I will definitely congratulate her on the action she took. 

What are you doing to ensure that your employees are responsive?

What’s the vision for your service?

Business owners, especially those who are in a manufacturing type company, may focus all their energies on the product, from design specifications to manufacturing processes. How much time is spent designing the service they would like their employees to deliver to customers who will buy those products?

I feel that the starting point is to define what the vision for your company’s service is. What would you like to measure your service against? What key performance indicators will you use? What kind of training will be necessary? How often will you test the service anonymously to see if the end result you envisioned is being delivered to the customer?

If you have been in business for many years, it is not too late to do this exercise. Gather your key employees together and you should also try and include those who have served customers directly as they may have valuable contributions. Brainstorm and see what you define as the draft vision for your service.  Although you would be working from ‘front to back’, you will be able to use the vision statement as the starting point to make changes throughout the company.

To complement that exercise, you will also need to have the necessary training sessions to ensure that it permeates throughout the entire organization and is infused in all your processes.

Getting the word out

I was on foot for part of today while my car’s air conditioning system got a check up. In the Caribbean, it is ESSENTIAL to have a proper working air conditioning system in one’s car. Walking the island’s streets certainly confirmed that!

As I walked along, I noticed things that I wouldn’t normally have seen while driving. And I also saw many persons who I haven’t seen in some time. Since this is a new venture, I have decided that I will tell everyone I meet that I am now freelancing, providing training and human resource development services to small and medium sized companies in the Caribbean.

I stopped in by office of the sister of a friend. She works in Accounting and so has to visit several companies on the island each year. As I normally do, I ended my spiel with “so if you know any company which would benefit from my services, please think about me.”. Her response? “All of them!”

Seriously though, I am sure there are lots of them who are doing a good job in customer service and human resource development and when I see those examples, I will be sure to get the word out. 

Customer Service in the Caribbean

There are varying thoughts about the quality of customer service in the Caribbean. As a frequent traveller in the Caribbean, I have had very good and very bad. Fortunately, having worked in Customer Service all my life, with companies which have been recognized for excellent service, I am able to recognize what is and what isn’t.

Even though most people curse LIAT (and I have, on the odd occasion), one event stood out as excellent. The young man about whom I wrote the Chairman, is still working there and I make sure and say hello whenever I am passing through Barbados, where the encounter happened.

Grenada Waterfall

Grenada Waterfall