Do You Agree on What Customer Service or Quality IsCustomer service and quality is one of todays most talked about and least understood concepts. Service/quality is a very slippery concept. It’s exasperatingly difficult to define and a source of great confusion to many managers. There’s a wide range of differences in premises, concepts, and even in the meanings of key words.

Definitions of “service/quality” depend heavily on the mind set of servers/producers, their support groups, management, and especially on the culture of the organization. In some organizations, just showing up for work every day, in never mind how snarly a mood, is considered a good performance. A receptionist under siege on the switchboard might consider connecting the caller to the right department, regardless of how long they’ve been holding, as good service/quality.

High sales and marketing costs are an organization’s tax for low levels of service and quality. As Ted Levitt, former professor at Harvard Business School and author of the classic book, The Marketing Imagination, points out “The organization must learn to think of itself not as producing goods and services but buying customers, as doing those things that will make people want to do business with it.” Where’s the customer’s view in your definition of service/quality? Do you know (with facts and data) what your key internal partners and/or external customers expect from your team/organization? Is their definition of service/quality your starting point?

Organizations need a clear, well understood, consistent — and customer-centered — agreement on what service/quality means and how to deliver it. If people throughout your organization can’t consistently define service/quality, how can you measure it? And if you can’t measure it, how can you achieve it? Most managers and team members want to improve service/quality, but they are not all reading the same road map. But then again, they’re not even all heading to the same place. How about you and your team?

Further Reading:

• Click Customer Service blog posts for further blogs and a series on our Three Rings of Perceived Value model defining service/quality from the outside in.
Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance