Success Factors in Service Excellence


Srikant Kapoor
BCIHMCT, New Delhi

Prof. R.K. Bhandari
BCIHMCT, New Delhi

Success factors specifically in the service excellence can broadly be divided in three categories viz. Performance value, Price value and Personalization value. Their optimization can accomplish service excellence. However, while ensuring near perfection in all relevant components, simultaneous and ceaseless imperative to evolve can never be overemphasized in pursuit of excellence. There should be a quest for achieving one's own excellence.

* Performance Value

Quality Obsession

This would be possible through quality obsession by undertaking six-sigma for services; successfully implementing Six Sigma in the service sector requires a relentless focus on customers, specifically, meeting their needs as efficiently as possible.

This requires four critical steps:

1. Define what's critical to your customers and confirm that your core processes are aligned to those requirements. As the term "services" implies, you must understand your customers' needs before you can serve them. Find out what those needs are through surveys, call center data, focus groups, and promotional campaigns--whatever means allow the voice of the customer to be heard clearly. At the same time, you must understand the key business issues for your company and align the voice of the customer with them.

2. Translate customer requirements into measurable characteristics of your processes. Once you understand customer requirements, you must fulfill them by measuring your processes' effectiveness and efficiency. "Effectiveness" means addressing the problem of defects that your processes produce; "efficiency" means addressing the time and money that the processes consume in meeting customer needs. A high rate of defects, and time and money wasted in nonvalue-added activities, increases your cost-per-transaction. The formula for translating customer requirements into measurable characteristics is simple: "as measured by."

For example, if on-time delivery is important for your customer, the metric would typically be "on-time delivery as measured by the time from the promised date to the date of actual fulfillment."

3. Quantify the effect of gaps in your processes in terms of the cost of poor quality. For example, a mortgage lender whose customers want fast action on their applications might find that the process includes a high number of abandoned calls by customers or long delays in producing quotes, causing a drop in prospects and numerous inaccurate credit reports.

4. Prioritize improvement projects. Once you clearly understand what each process gap costs, you can prioritize improvement efforts according to what's most critical to your company (e.g., customer service, time, money, perceived value or other criteria). Because improvement in any organization proceeds project by project, you must ensure that you're investing your effort in the right projects in the right order.

Above all, one must continue to look at your business through your customers' eyes. It's possible--but pointless--to redesign your internal processes and never address your customers' real needs. However, don't remake your processes with only the customer in mind. One must also address your stakeholders' concerns and ensure that your customer-pleasing processes also meet the critical needs of your business.

HR competence

The demonstrated desire to work with, serve or do something helpful for customers. Includes initiative and tenacity in understanding the needs of others, including internal customers, external customers, suppliers and vendors. The evolution needs to take place from 1-5.

1. Takes full personal responsibility for resolving issues: Personally sees that customer problems or concerns are addressed satisfactorily. Demonstrates leadership in resolving conflicts with customers. Is fully available to customers, especially during critical periods.

2. Adds value beyond customer issues: Work to add value to the customer and to make things better than the customer may expect.

3. Assesses underlying customer needs: Seeks information about the real, underlying needs of customers beyond those expressed initially and matches these needs to available or customized services. Looks for long term benefits to the customer.

4. Becomes a trusted adviser: Gets personally involved in customer activities and decisions. Develops an independent opinion on customers' current and long-term needs, problems, opportunities and alternatives for implementation. Acts on this opinion, for example, by recommending appropriate approaches that are new and different from those requested by the customer.

5. Sacrifice short-term benefits for long term benefits: Takes customers' side against the organization, as necessary, with long-term mutual benefit to customers and the organization.

(Source: Hay/McBer as printed in ACA Journal, Spring 1994, Volume 3, Number 1.)

Service Guarantees

Should be unconditional for the customer after all he pays for it doesn't him/her.

* Price Value

Business model and strategy are not independent of the social and economic milieu we operate in. Value proposition would obviously depend on the target consumer group. One thing is however sure: generic positioning platforms will not work any more; proposition will have to be based on consumer insight and marketers that commit themselves to this process are more likely to succeed. We can use the following parameters (formula) to start with:

Customer Value Added = Perceived Worth of Your Offer
                                              Perceived Worth of Competitive Offers

Relative Satisfaction with Products & Services =

Your Customer satisfaction with Quality of Products & Services
Competitor customer satisfaction with Quality of Products & Services

(Raymond E. Kordupleski)

* Personalization Value

When we define personalization, many a time we define personalization by the creative. I am saying; why not look at personalization by the interaction. Just change the benchmark to say, how I personalize the interaction. One thing about customers, no matter how you define them: they like being treated like kings and queens. What this means in the age of CRM is personalization - the art and science of creating a unique experience for every individual customer. In a perfect techno-functional world, personalization identifies the needs and requirements of individual customer en masse. The benefits of this are long standing, happy customers and reduced customer service, marketing, and sales costs.


Speakers & Facilitators

On International Summit on Service Excellence, 20THJanuary, 2006

Dr. Naresh Trehan, MD, Escorts Health Services
Dr. Pramod Paliwal, IIMT-Kolkata
Dr. Ramesh Kapur, MD Radisson Hotel, Delhi
Dr. Sudhanshu  Bhushan,IIMT-Gurgaon
Dr.Vinnie Jauhari, Head-SOME, IIMT-Gurgaon
Mr. Harshavardhan Neotia, MD Ambuja Cement Eastern Limited
Mr. K.B. Kachru, Executive VP South Asia, Carlson Hotels Asia Pacific
Ms. Kriti Dutta, IIMT-Gurgaon
Prof. Ajay Das, Zicklin Business School, New York
Prof. Jagdish N. Sheth, Emroy University, USA
Prof. Mahmood Khan, Virginia Tech, USA
Prof. Shyam Lodha, Southern Connecticut State University, USA
Shri Arvind Singhji Mewar, CMD-HRH Group of Hotels

Srikant Kapoor
BCIHMCT, New Delhi

Prof. R.K. Bhandari
Asst. Professor
BCIHMCT, New Delhi

Source: E-mail February 8, 2006


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