What is Good Customer Service?
Good client service can mean different things to different people. However overall one would hope to find the following:

  • Staff remain professional and behave ethically, fairly, and without bias.
  • Clients feel welcomed and their frustrations are reduced, not increased.
  • They are kept informed of progress and communicated to in a sensitive manner.
  • Clients are encouraged to participate in the service process and to offer ideas.
  • People‚Äôs needs are responded to in a positive way.
  • Staff are proactive, taking actions in advance rather than waiting for orders.
  • Everyone is sensitive to differences in race, gender and disability.
  • Service is monitored and evaluated regularly.
  • Progress is rewarded
  • Corrective action is applied where appropriate to ensure that systems and
    processes do not get in the way of good customer service.

And the 0rganizational systems and processes, and the leadership that facilitates these, support all of the above. All parties benefit if the above becomes a natural way of working. However lots of things get in the way. It is often worth running a workshop to discuss what things help or hinder. However ensure this looks at the systems and processes not just individual behaviour, as most often these are the crucial aspects.
Research suggests that it is important to assess the expectations of your client base, rather than just their perceptions of your current performance. It has also been suggested that these expectations are made up of:

  • Informal/word of mouth
  • Personal needs
  • Past experience
  • External communications by the organisation

Studies also suggest that there are five broad dimensions of service quality:

  • Tangibles (physical facilities, staffing, brochures, your clothes!)
  • Reliability (ability to perform dependably and accurately)
  • Responsiveness (willingness to provide appropriate service and generally help clients)
  • Assurance (knowledge and courtesy of staff and ability to inspire trust and confidence)
  • Empathy (caring, individual attention)

However these may vary in relative importance by individuals and over time.The crucial thing is to understand your own customers well enough, especially in service oriented organizations, to know which are important. If you carry out surveys to try to understand your clients, make sure you have decided first what you will actually do about the findings, and ensure you take action after. I have seen a number of organizations run annual client surveys and merely wind-up their customers because
nothing seems to happen in response.
Stephanie
see Wisniewski, M., & Donnelly, M., (1996) Measuring service quality in the public
sector: the potential for SERVQUAL. Total Quality Management, vol. 7, No. 4. p.357-
365.
Williams, C.S.; Saunders, M.N.K., & Staughton, R.V.W. (1999) Understanding service
quality in the new public sector. An exploration of relationships in the process of
funding social housing. The International Journal of Public Sector Management. Vol. 12 No.
4 p.366-379.