The Dimensions of Service Quality - Six Sigma

The Five Dimensions of Service Quality (Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry 2009)

The five elements create a holistic view of any service environment; firstly the tangible aspects of the environment must look right. Note that ‘right’ does not necessarily mean that it should be luxuriously appointed in all cases; a fast - food outlet needs primarily to look clean and deficient, whilst not implying to a customer that a lot of money has been spent on excessive luxury. A management consultant may, on the other hand, find it useful to wear designer clothes and drive a high end carclients wish to know that they are hiring someone who is doing well at their job.

Secondly, the organization needs to ‘do what it says on the tin’ in terms of delivering customer promises and expectations. If the fast food is not fast, or not acceptable in terms of quality then the rest will not matter.

Thirdly, a responsive organization would attempt to customize the service for the customer, and respond effectively and quickly to any particular requirements. One might think of Burger King’s “You got it” adverts as stressing their flexibility and responsiveness. Similarly, a dental service which can it in emergency patients quickly, or an insurance company which can quickly provide quotes on unusual risks or in unusual circumstances without a hefty penalty would be seen as responsive.

Fourthly, assurance would be the confidence inspired by the staff through their demean our, dress and demonstrated knowledge. Concierge services at high end hotels would perhaps be the most obvious positive example of this, whilst wildly contrasting examples might be available in large computer shops where staff knowledge can often be rather lacking.

The final and most challenging piece of the jigsaw is empathy. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the place of the customer. An empathetic service make the customer genuinely feel at the centre of the service and cared for. A car salesperson, for example, might improve the customer experience (and long term performance) by recognising and responding to customer preferences, rather than attempting to ‘up sell’ and get them to buy the most expensive car and options that they can be persuaded to. Empathy is often a nebulous concept, but customers know when they have experienced it, and will seek it out over and again.

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