What Truly Differentiates Superior Service?

I’ve been part of the IT Services industry for more than a decade now. As a service provider, have been involved in providing different IT services [Consulting, Advisory, Implementation / Development, Marketing, Maintenance and Support - To name a few] to customers across the globe.

On the other hand, I realize that all my life I have also been a Service Consumer [for more than 3 decades now :) ]. I have consumed all kinds of services – from from education services, to telecom services, to training services, to hospitality services, to tourism services, to luxury services, to healthcare services, to beauty care services, to cleaning services, to security services, to home maintenance services, to postal services, to courier services, to financial services, to transportation services, to dining services, to lifestyle services, to automobile services, to customized personalized services, to plumbing services, to information services, to research services…etc. etc. etc

As a service consumer I ask myself what truly differentiates SUPERIOR Service?

Is it the first customer response?

Is it making an attempt to understand the customer’s explicit and implicit requirements?

Is it the level of customer involvement in the decisions around service delivery?

Is it listening to the Voice of the Customer?

Is it the price of the service?

Is it consistency in service quality?

Is it service quality in line with customer expectations?

Is it communication with your customers? – w.r.t the level of information shared and frequency of communication updates

Is it providing personalized customized services?

Is it honoring your service commitments every single time?

Is it investing, building and nurturing customer-centric relationships?

Is it managing your customer expectations over a period of time?

Let me explain with 2 personal examples of what I consider SUPERIOR Service

Example 1

A while ago, I had to make personal booking for an international travel. It was the first time I was doing it (Prior to this, it was always taken care of by someone one – Friend, Family or Organization), and so I asked some of my high-flying friends on how to go about it. All of them suggested it is best to go through a Travel Agent, since it is easier to handle travel changes (if any). So, I asked a few contacts for the references of good Travel Agents, and I got a long list. I sent a mail to all of these travel agents with my specific request, and the initial response I received from 3 of them gave me confidence to proceed to the next level [Lesson 1 : Initial Service Response makes all the difference in perception of Service Quality].

Next, I spoke to all 3 of them and short-listed 2 whom I asked for a quote. One of them called me immediately and asked me a lot of pertinent travel related questions (For e.g.: Was it a first time travel? Are there any special requests / conditions that I have? My flexibility of dates?, etc etc). This made a HUGE difference in identifying the right travel itenary [Lesson 2 : Understanding you customer's explicit and implicit requirements goes a long way in the Quality of Service you can render]

After that, the travel agent shared with me 3 travel options in line with my requirements and with the best rates, along with pros and cons of each option. She also took the trouble of following the mail with a call to explain all the important points so that I understood it right [Lesson 3: Involving customer in the decision making process, by providing transparent information goes a long way in gaining customer confidence and trust]

After we agreed on the best travel itenary, she booked my tickets and I had them in my mailbox within a span of 24 hours! Wow! I was mighty impressed with the service, and I definitely consider this a case of outstanding service quality. Not only was I grateful to her for doing such a good idea, I also recommend her to anyone who asks me for a reference [Lesson 4: One positive customer experience can be the origin and source and unlimited future business potential. Value each customer, and give them their due]

Example 2

The next example that I’m going to share is about my experience with my family dentist. Our association started when he had just started his dental practice way back in the 90’s; and I’ve been going back for the past 2 decades. Back then, and even now – Most people dread a visit to the dentist. Simply because most visits to the dentists do cause physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress and financial payouts (many times, more than what you’d ever imagine) I mean imagine going through all the torture and then pay for it! Not to mention, that most dentists (at least those I know or have heard of) have a serious, grumpy and unfriendly expression most of the time – Wonder if it’s part of the syllabus in Dental school ;)

In every single visit to the dentist – you can be guaranteed of a few things. One, a warm smile as soon as he sees you, followed by general greetings and pleasantries & he usually remembers your name and little details about your previous conversations [Lesson 5: A genuinely warm and friendly welcome is always welcome – Especially in the Services business, makes a huge difference for the overall customer experience ]

Next every single time, he will ask you for your current ailments and actually listen with attention to every single word you say [Lesson 6: Listening to the Voice of the Customer usually goes a long way in providing the right customized service. And providing customized services is one of the key contributing factors for superior service]

Further, he always explains to you what he intends to go with your teeth, which teeth and also provides general information on the amount of pain that you could possibly experience [Lesson 7: Explaining how you intend to solve the customer problem / pain-area makes an ocean of difference in customer confidence, gaining customer trust and a positive customer experience]

Last but not least, he always provides a personalized pricing for every service – something which is proprietary to his services, and I also find the pricing competitive [Lesson 8: The price does make a difference for any service, and price is usually seen in conjunction with the overall service experience, not just the service itself ]

So what’s your view? What truly differentiates SUPERIOR service? Leave a comment to let me know.

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