How are quality related characteristics different for products and services? Quality can mean free of deficiencies or the characteristics that satisfy customer needs. In a product focused business your product has a measureable set of characteristics such as being:
- reliable, meaning it doesn’t break down often or at all;
- serviceable, easy to repair; and
- durable, lasting a long time.
We are very used to hearing about product quality. These characteristics however do not directly apply in a service focused business, i.e., banking, selling insurance or financial advice. And some businesses like restaurants are a mix of both product and service, i.e .the product/food must be good and the service must be excellent.
Quality related service characteristics include
- Reliability - your service is consistently performed well, your processes are repeatable by all employees each and every time
- Tangibles - equipment, personnel, location of the service performed all support customer satisfaction with your service
- Responsiveness - prompt willingness to give good service by all employees
- Assurance - courteous, trustworthy, and knowledgeable providers of the service
- Empathy - satisfactory problem resolution
So in a service focused business how does quality/customer satisfaction link to profit?
We will use a chain metaphor and see that a chain of events, links, leads a quality service organization to profit and growth.
- “The first step in the service–profit chain is internal service quality, or treatment employees receive from a company’s internal service providers (i.e., management, human resources, etc.). When employees are given responsibility and authority, they are more satisfied with their jobs.
- In turn, satisfied employees are more apt to respect customers and treat them well. Treating customers well, the hallmark of high-quality service, leads to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- When customers continually come back to do business with a service provider, this leads to long-term profits and growth.”
If your business is a service provider and you wish to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty think about how to implement the quality related service characteristics discussed above.
Reference: The information in this article is discussed in depth in Chapter 18 of the textbook: MGMT 12; Williams, 2022, 2019, 12th Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning, Boston, MA.