How do customers judge quality? And how can jisp increase customer satisfaction?
What makes a service ‘good’?
If you go into a fast-food restaurant and wait 10 minutes before getting your food, you’re likely to be pretty pissed off. But if you go into a pub you’d probably be surprised or even delighted if your burger and fries arrived in 10 minutes. You’ve been delivered a similar product at similar speeds, but in one situation you’re left frustrated, and in the other you’re probably pretty chuffed. So what’s changed?
When you go into a fast food restaurant, you expect food to come out pretty much instantly (to quote Joe in the office “if my burger isn’t already waiting for me on the shelf when I walk in, it’s too slow”). When you order food from a pub, you expect a bit of a wait. The difference isn’t in the product, service or even the speed, but it was in what you expected when you walked in.
To put it differently; the gap between your expectations about a service and your perception of what you actually received is proportional to how happy you were when you came away from the experience. If you expected more than you got you’re likely disappointed, if you got what you expected you’re probably satisfied, but if your experience surpassed expectation, you’re going to be delighted. And delighting customers is the name of the game, right?
How do I use that to delight my customers?
Broadly speaking, this means that there are two ways of shifting what you as a retailer does to delight your customers; make your service better, cheaper, faster etc. or shift your communications to better align your customers’ expectations with the service they’re going to receive.
So how do we put that into practice when trying to delight our customers in a bricks-and-mortar retail environment?
The short answer is to give a bit of thought to what people expect; ask customers, speak to friends and family do a bit of reading, and then see how it matches up to what you’re providing. Any areas where an aspect of the customer experience doesn’t at the very least match their expectations needs addressing first. The first thing to ask yourself is ‘can I adapt my service to meet this expectation?’ if you can’t, you need to be asking ‘where did this expectation come from, and how can I communicate my service better to manage my customers’ expectations’.
If you want to delve into this a bit deeper, search for the ‘Gaps Model of Service Quality’. There are loads of great articles out there which explain this in loads of depth, so we won’t rehash them here.
Obviously in some cases, your customers’ expectations don’t come directly from you; industry standards, other similar businesses or other sources of similar information can all play a part in what consumers have come to expect.
The rise of the internet and ecommerce has conditioned consumers to expect instant information exactly when they want it (and not just ‘some’ information either. They want it all, right now). They expect to be able to browse endless products with the swipe of a finger, to filter them by size, colour, price and tailor information exactly to what they’re after. They expect stores to know what they’ve bought previously and suggest similar or complementary items, and even to remind them to replace things when they might be wearing out.
As a bricks-and-mortar store manager, adjusting those expectations to align with the service you provide is going to be tricky, to say the least. You may see hundreds upon hundreds of customers alongside thousands of products, how can you possibly be expected to remember everything, and tailor each customer’s experience in your store in the way they’ve come to expect?