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Creating customers is an important thing in a business since it is the customers who determine the direction that the business takes. Even though time and effort are important factors in determining the improvements to be made in services and products, customers still remain to be the main determinants of the future success of the business.
Consequently, quality customer service is important for anyone who wants their business to prosper. Customer service can either make or break a business since it involves the key players; customers.
Most of the activities that are undertaken in a business such as business planning, marketing strategies, and amount of sales depend on the customers. People get into businesses so that they can generate income through the services and products they offer, in our case, it is the services that are offered by the staff. The customers are in need of these services but they want to establish if the services are satisfactory.
To attain the business goal, it is important to design methods that will meet the needs of the customers well (Asiado, 2009: 21). A decline in service quality can have serious consequences since customers may opt to receive the same services from other service providers. This means that the business will lose its customers hence incurring losses.
To ensure that the services offered to clients are satisfactory, managers need to come up with ways that can analyze the operations of their businesses particularly service quality.
In some cases, the mode of analysis has to be designed in a way that the staff members are not aware that they are being watched to avoid cases of fabrication. This ensures that the findings are accurate hence it becomes possible for the managers to come up with suitable solutions to make improvements.
Analyzing Branch Operations
When it comes to analyzing and measuring service quality of the business, the gap analysis would be the best model to provide accurate results. The gap model is a valuable tool that is useful in the identification and rectification of service delivery gaps. The process of marketing services is different from that of marketing goods.
This is because services are characterized by their insubstantial, varied, undividable and unpreserved nature. When marketing services, there are five factors that are important in attaining and maintaining customer loyalty. Reliability, assurance, tangibles, responsiveness, and empathy are the five main factors. Each of these factors can be important in determining service quality of the business.
This is because if any of these factors does not meet the needs of the customers well, then the quality of the services goes down. It is important to note that low service quality can be come about if one or more of these factors are poorly handled.
Customer complains ought to be appreciated and taken seriously. The management cannot overlook these complains since they act as a parameter for determining what the customers have in mind. Karatepe, Yavas, and Babakus (2005: 373-383) note that managers should take note of the areas that do not meet the needs of the customers in the rightful manner.
This will enable them to formulate policies that will help in rectifying the problem before it gets out of hand. In this case, some customers including those that are of great importance have complained about the poor services. This is no coincidence, there has to be some truth in the claims. It is important to analyze the situation so that solutions can be sought thus we can improve the relationship with the customers.
This is about attempting to earn back their trust since some of them have lost faith in the ability of the staff to provide satisfactory services. Trying to rectify the issues is important since it makes the customers to know that their complains are important and that something is being done to rectify the problem.
Poor services will be a result of poor understanding of what each of these factors entails or negligence on the part of the staff. Given that this branch has been rated top five in the last three years; it means that customers have noted a negative change in the way that services are provided. Customer complains cannot be overlooked since customers have a right to receive quality services.
Failure to handle the above factors in the right way when providing services to customers creates gaps in service quality hence failing to meet the needs of the customers well. This means that the expectations of the customers are not met adequately. Allred (2000: 22) suggests that the five factors are the most important parameters when it comes to determining gaps in the service quality.
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Once we attain the true picture of the services provided, the information will pave way for the formulation of appropriate policies to close the gaps (Chowdhary, 2005: 32). The policies formulated should ensure that the one or more of the dimensions are rectified to meet the needs of the customers.
It is important to look at each and every dimension so that we can explore how it can be used to analyze the branch operations when it comes to service quality. The service quality gap model determines the gap between the desired and actual quality of the services provided.
In business, the term reliability refers to the ability to deliver services perfectly and reliably. Customers enjoy receiving services from well trained personnel who are able to deliver services in a professional manner. The presence of untrained staff is worrisome since the manner in which these people deliver services may not meet the needs of the customers.
Reliability in business ensures that customers have faith in the ability of the business staff to provide quality services. When customers complain, it means that the services offered do not meet their needs in a desirable manner. The long queues could imply two things, either the number of clients have increased tremendously or the staff are not competent enough when it comes to speed.
The fact that customers have complained regarding this issue means that there might have been a change of behavior from the staff when it comes to providing services. It is important to establish what factors have changed in service provision over the years. Given that some customers have complained about transaction errors, it is important to find out what could have brought about these errors.
It is not wise to assume that the staff is responsible for the errors since the systems could have developed some technical problems that need to be rectified. According to Krishnamurthy, Raja, and Kumar (2010: 23), a drop in reliability could be as a result of many factors hence it is important to consider all the possible causes of the case.
Advancements in technology have changed the mode in which the exchange of goods and services operates. It is important to keep updated with the latest technological advancements so that the customers can be served well. Failure to have this knowledge may result into a conflict between customer expectation and how the management perceives it.
This means that the management is not aware of what the customers need and as a result, the policies formulated do not meet the needs of the customers. This gap could have negative consequences since the customers may start to complain about the quality of the services. Following this, it is important to interview some customers on what their expectations are and what aspects they do not like about the services.
Customers will definitely speak their mind since they want things to be rectified as soon as possible. Questions like; how long have you been a member of this bank? Have you been enjoying the services? Are the services accurately and perfectly offered? What aspects do you detest in the way the services are offered? Have you noted any changes in the way the services are offered over the years? If yes, what aspects have changed?
Why do you think these aspects have changed? Suggest what should be done to rectify the problem (Lai, 2004: 45). Answers to these questions can provide useful information that can enable the management to discover what the customers need. The questionnaires to be issued should be short and to the point. The questionnaires should be given to the customers after they receive the services.
Assurance is a term that to the knowledge and precision of employees and their transparency when it comes to serving the customers (Lenka, 2010: 123). This is important since it fosters the relationship between the customers and the staff. The management needs to be aware of the degree of knowledge that relates to giving services to customers. Knowledge is dynamic and the needs of the customers keep changing with time.
The staff members are expected to advance their knowledge with time since technological changes demand so. Errors may mirror a lack of prudence when offering the services or the lack of knowledge to perform the transactions. In an attempt to establish why errors occur during the transactions, the staff needs to be questioned on why such errors occurred.
One thing that is evident is that the error could have occurred due to technical problems or lack of carefulness on the side of the staff. It is important to note that the error could have occurred as a result of a combination of the two factors (Roy, 2010: 56). The ability of the staff members to earn the trust of the customers is important.
This is because the customers enjoy receiving services from people they can trust particularly when it comes to asking for clarification on some issues. To establish whether the customers have earned trust in the staff, one can observe their behavior when they are in the banking hall. If the customers show a tendency to confirm what member of the staff is serving a certain queue before joining the queue.
This will mean that the customers have preferences when it comes receiving services from staff (Solomon, 2009: 44). If some queues are shorter than others, then this means that some staff members do not have the ability to earn the trust of the employees. This means that the customers are more comfortable receiving services from some staff and not others.
This issue may bring about a gap in service quality standards and the mode of service delivery. It is evident that the management is aware of the desired degree of service and that it has specified what standards need to be maintained. Due to this, the poor quality service could have been brought about by the poorly trained staff. Their level of skills is low hence they lack the ability to execute their roles well.
Roy (2010: 57) suggests that failure to fully understand what is expected from an employee is a major cause of complains since the mode of service delivery may be poor. Poor employee performance cannot be blamed on the management since it has played its roles well.
Some staff members have not shown competence in carrying out their roles hence it can be assumed that they do not good mastery of the facts or the necessary skills that are needed to perform as per the expectations. The new employees seem to lack the necessary skills to offer the services. This could indicate that the staff had received poor training hence they have a hard time performing their tasks (Roy, 2010: 58).
Although their academic credentials show that they have successfully completed the course, it is possible that these people attained their grades through illegal means hence the grades do not necessarily reflect their capability. It would be important to interview the new members to establish which ones need more training.
Tangible is a term that is used to describe the facilities, apparatus and communication tools. This is generally referred to as the physical proof of amenities. The machines that are used in communication in the banking hall need to be analyzed so that their efficiency can be determined. Outdated machines tend to be slower since they have been in service for long.
The machines may have also developed some technical problems without the knowledge of the staff. The long queues in the banking halls could have been brought about by the slow speed of the machines when it comes to performing the operations. Since the staff handle the machines, it would be useful to question them on issues that relate to the effectiveness of the machines (Karl, 2008: 15).
The staff can be issued with questionnaires with questions such as; how effective are the machines? Have their speed changed over the years? Do we need to buy newer machines? This will give important information on what the staff thinks about the machines. Clearly, machines are there to make work easier hence if they do not attain this goal, then they can be rendered useless since they are not meeting the expectations.
This problem can bring about lack of growth between the management perception and standards set for service quality. Although the management may be aware of the customer expectations, they may not be committed enough to ensure the tools used in the process are appropriate. These machines are important when it comes to ensuring that high quality services are provided.
Limited or poor quality resources can be a major cause of poor quality services at the work place. This can make it hard for the staff members to meet the standards set. It is important to compare the quality of services offered by the staff members using latest technology and that of those using outdated technology.
This will help in establishing whether it is the machines that have brought about the poor services or the poorly trained staff. According to Karl (2008: 14), gaps created due to lack of progress between the management’s way of perceiving service quality and the set standards can lead to a drop in the quality of services offered in any business.
Empathy can be defined as act as treating and dealing with the customers in an acceptable manner. The management expects the staff to treat the customers in an individualized manner hence any staff member who fails to do this breaks the rules. In analyzing the extent to which the staff members observe this, it is important to analyze the behavior of the customers after they have been served.
It is important to look at the facial expression of the customers since it can provide information of how well a customer was served. If the customers come out smiling, it means that they have been served well while when they seem to frown, it means that they are not happy with the services provided. According to Teng, Huang, and Tsai (2009: 54), when clients are served well, they seem to show contentment on their faces.
Poorly served customers are in a hurry to get out of the banking hall since they have not enjoyed the services given. They feel that they do not deserve such kind of service hence they do not want to remain in the banking hall for longer.
A friendly working environment makes one to feel at home hence one may want to stay for longer. If the staff fails to show empathy towards the customers when serving them, then a gap is created between the expected quality of services and the perceived service. The pattern should be observed by comparing the number of customers who seemed to be contented with those who were not.
Responsiveness is the enthusiasm to help the customers and the ability to provide timely services. Sometimes new customers may need directions since they are not familiar with the operations. This means that the staff has the responsibility of directing the customers. According to the customers, the quality of the services has dropped hence they do not leave the banking hall happy.
It is important to establish whether the mode in which the staff serve the customers reflect their willingness to help them. Under delivery could be as a result of over expectation on the side of the customers as a result of the promise given by the management. The mode in which the staff addresses the customers can tell a lot about how they value them.
If a staff member assists the customer with a frowning face, then the customer may feel that they have disturbed the staff member while on the other hand; a smiling face will make the customer to feel appreciated and valued.
To analyze the responsiveness of the staff members, a CCTV can be an important aid in determining how the customers are served in as far as responsiveness is concerned (Roy: 2010: 57).. It would not be wise to walk into the hall and make the staff members aware that they are being observed since instances of fabrication are common in such cases.
This means that the staff may act kindly towards the customers on this day while this is not always the case. The customers are esteemed and as stated earlier, they determine the success of the business.
To bridge the gaps that may have resulted from poor services, it would be important to look into each issue individually. This means that solutions to each problem will be sought independently. This is due to the fact that the gaps have been brought about by different factors.
The analysis will shed some light on the situation of the working environment hence the management will be in a good position to formulate policies that could be helpful in combating the problems.
The problem needs to be looked into from different perspectives since it could have been caused by different factors (Thomson, 2010: 22). The following is an example of the ways that can be used to bridge the service quality gaps that may have developed in the first dimension.
If the staff is not able to perform their tasks accurately and reliably, the management can shed some light on the roles of each and every employee, make the employees understand the importance of the roles they play, train the employees especially when it comes to technical skills, reward those employees who perform best, making the employees aware of the expectations of the customers, and train employees on how to deal with customers from different cultural background.
Customers are an important asset in any business. They determine the success of the business thus complains need to be taken seriously. In this case, the customers have complained about poor service quality. There are five dimensions that are very important when it comes to attaining and sustaining customer trustworthiness and reduce the number of defections.
It seems that our services have faltered one or more of these dimensions since the customers have complained about the quality of the services. To develop an action plan that can help in bridging the gap, it is important to look at the problem individually so that the solutions can be sought.
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