Now as I described in my consumers blog services although an essential part of life, are more risky to purchase than goods because of the following reasons:
1. Intangibility of services – services cannot be seen touch/hold prior to experiencing them
2. No two services are alike – so for example a haircut from the same salon and same individual can differ because of the time of day, motivations, emotions and so forth.
3. Services are perishable – it is hard for organisations to match supply with demand
So what does this mean for you as employers or employees of a service organisation? Despite the fact services cannot be standardised there are few tricks of the trade that you can employ to help balance customer expectations with the actual service level they receive.
1. Look at ways that you can implement strategies that help to decrease the intangibility of services. For instance, receive testimonials from clients, take pictures of before and after the service, film customers actually performing the service. By demonstrating the level of service customers will receive and feedback from previous customers it helps a customer to visualise what they are actually purchasing! It’s for this reason websites like tripadvisor and urbanspoon have revolutionised the hotel and hospitality industries.
2. Train your staff. As I mentioned in the first week, make sure your staff are effectively trained, not just train staff once and forget about it, but retrain staff on a quarterly basis, ensure training focuses on different circumstances such as busy periods, angry customers and so forth – by having a consistent approach to customer encounters it will help to minimise customer dissatisfaction from non consistent service levels.
3. Although services are perishable, often there are correlations between busy and non busy periods start having staff record the differences in service times and levels – what’s the connection? Is it weather related, time related, traffic related or for another reason? In non-busy periods is there things that can be done to prepare for the busy periods such as retraining staff, having staff take leave so they aren’t burnt out or using the office premises for other activities (such as hiring it for conferences and so forth) – more will be discussed on this topic next week.
By implementing the above you are helping to manage demand and supply and provide consistency with your service levels. Although issues may still arise by at least demonstrating to customers that you are committed to customer service levels it will greatly help in minimising unrealistic customer expectations.
Until next week when we will look at in more detail how to manage demand and supply!
Cents and Sensibility
Julia Taine, Executive Director of Vent2Me, is a marketing problem solver and mentor. A mover and a shaker, Julia sees a niche in an industry, and takes it, by making it her own. Julia started Vent2Me, because people she knew were struggling with their online presence and their digital strategies. Julia knew she could help these people, and so here she is today.