Customer care programme


Let’s consider how we set up a customer care programme. There are a number of stages including:

1. Identify customer needs and perceptions
2. Establish a mission statement
3. Set service level standards
4. Establish a management process and communicate it to staff
5. Establish a complaints system
6. Develop control system

Identify customer needs and perceptions

Here you undertake some basic research to answer the question ‘What are your expectations? So you can compare expectations with the real experience once the service has been consumed. There is a tool called SERVQUAL which can be used to examine service quality. SERVQUAL is a multi-item scale developed to assess customer perceptions of service quality in service and retail businesses (Parasuraman et. al., 1988). The scale decomposes the notion of service quality into five constructs as follows:

Tangibles – physical facilities, equipment, staff appearance, etc.
Reliability – ability to perform service dependably and accurately
Responsiveness – willingness to help and respond to customer need
Assurance – ability of staff to inspire confidence and trust
Empathy – the extent to which caring individualized service is given

SERVQUAL represents service quality as the discrepancy between a customer’s expectations for a service offering and the customer’s perceptions of the service received, requiring respondents to answer questions about both their expectations and their perceptions.
SERVQUAL is the method to measure and improve the quality of the service. It gives the biggest value by identifying 5 main gaps, which the organization should identify and fix:

  1. The gap 1: expected service by customers VS the perceptions of the customers' expectations by managers
  2. The gap 2: management perception VS the actual specification of the customer experience
  3. The gap 3: customer-driven service design and standards VS actual service delivery
  4. The gap 4: the delivery of the customer experience VS what/how it is communicated to the customers
  5. The gap 5: a customer's perception of the experience VS the customer's expectation of the service

Establish a mission statement

Generally a mission statement is used as a foundation for strategic planning. In this instance you develop goals/objectives and a vision for what you want to delivery in terms of your service. You may wish to delight your customers, or you may require that they book a holiday for next year – for example.

These are the benchmarks by which you measure you service delivery. These might include: • Time taken for tickets to arrive
• The number of complaints and how quickly they are dealt with
• How many rings it takes to answer a telephone
• The number of completed feedback forms

Establish a management process and communicate it to staff

Establish which members of staff are responsible for each element of service, and delegate responsibility. So an area manager may be responsible if a customer raises a complaint about food poisoning, although a local representative would handle a complaint about a late coach excursion. Brief your staff about the customer care programme and run regular training events. Embed the measures of customer service within you staff appraisal system. Make sure your customers have access to customer care programme guidelines.

Establish a complaints system

There must be a structured and clear complaints system. All complaints need to be recorded so that patterns of complaints can be identified and quality improvements can be implemented. For example action needs to be taken if clusters of complaints fall around a resort, hotel or member of staff.

Develop control system

A system of measurement needs to be in place to control, measure and monitor the customer care programme. The next session will consider the methods for collecting customer feedback.