Number of Words : 1838
Number of References : 8
This paper analysis the following case study –
Servicing customers needs
Jessica, Amira and John are friends who all work at the same industrial estate. Jessica works for a pharmaceutical supplier that makes alternative medicines. Her job involves being part of a team that provides customer services. John works at the same company, where he is a supervisor in the dispatch area. Amira works in a gymnasium where she provides customer services, by advising clients on appropriate trainers and suitable exercise classes. Amira also develops rosters for other trainers.
The three friends have one other thing in common— they are all doing the same management course at TAFE. They are working on a team assignment together and were talking about their latest group assignment.
Jessica explained that her team leader (at work) helped the team members, but upper management kept their distance from the front line staff, and didn’t talk or associate with them. Information from the Accounts Department was often incomplete or out of date:
I am not sure that my managers believe that the people working inside our organisation are an important part of servicing customer needs. When clients call us, we mostly keep to the script for legal reasons. However, we could have better communication between staff members.
She gave an example of how the company had been embarrassed when incorrect information was sent to a supplier. A batch of finished products was rejected because some of the inputs were not of the usual quality.
Amira told a different story for her workplace where the instructors are keen to supply information on their availability and updates on fitness information to be published in the gym newsletter:
In the gym there is a close relationship between staff.
John felt that relationships between staff members and with customers are important:
Each organisation also needs to realise that not all customers are the same. There will be customers with different needs from other clients.
Amira agreed with John, illustrating his point by giving examples from the gym of different groups such as an older ladies’ group who preferred a particular class instructor:
We plan these classes in advance so the customers get what they want.
Jessica responded by talking about the needs of different customer groups in her company:
I think our company acknowledges that different customer groups need different resources. Pharmacies who buy their products for resale want pharmacology-trained representatives to answer technical questions. Health store customers want to know more about the sales points of the supplements. They need sales people who can give them the right advice.
John added that his customers want continuity of with particular company staff:
We also have our products under different brands. Each of the companies that re-brands our products want different logos and information on the packaging. They want to deal exclusively with the same people each time they our business.
Amira offered a further observation: I notice from our course that there is a relationship between the quality of the service delivered, the time it takes to deliver the service, and the cost of delivering the service. The three are inextricably linked.
During the rest of the evening they discussed the importance of any organisation, whether a business or a charity, being able to determine the level of service it can profitably provide. This would include decisions on the quality of products or services provided, cost structures and the time frames in which products and services can be delivered to the customer.
Customer service standards and benchmarks
At their next meeting, the opening topic of conversation was customer service standards.
Amira: We have standards in the gym. Each standard nominates an activity, the outcome to be achieved at the end of the activity, and the actions that need to be taken to ensure the standard is met. We keep a detailed record on each customer. If a customer comes into the gym to reduce weight, this would appear in the activity column. The goal of the weight loss specified in relation to time is listed in the next column. The various actions that need to be carried out such as key diet tips and exercises are described in the final column of the record kept on each customer.
John: OK, but any standard needs to be checked against the best available practice; they need to be benchmarked. In the pharmaceutical industry there are industry standards as well as international standards with which an organisation should comply. To meet organisation standards we must monitor our performance. It needs to be logged on a day-to-day basis. That includes informal comments by customers whether negative or positive. We should have a logging process to monitor everything we do, comparing responses from customers to our service against the standard we have set for that activity.
John also suggested that for each organisation to meet its customer service standards, it should have a process for giving staff proper training:
We should consider the importance of copying good behaviours in the workplace. We could link staff members with a trusted mentor—someone who knows the job—who would advise on what they are doing; or who would give specific instructions on meeting required standards of performance.
Level and quality of customer service
At their third meeting, the three friends discussed the importance to an organisation of having the appropriate systems to support the level and quality of customer service it provides.
Jessica: Customers should be the central reason that an organisation exists but the organisation needs to have the systems in place to ensure that the best possible service is given. Organisations are systems in themselves. They have inputs and processes for changing those inputs into outputs. The system may not be up to giving the level of service promised. The level of service to be provided needs to be matched to the capacity of the organisation. Over promising without sufficient resources to complete a job may mean losing customers. It’s better to be honest with our customers about resource limitations and that our systems are linked to the resources we have. Organisation systems should also accommodate informal relationships being developed by people across an organisation, allowing you to go to the right person who will help you to better service a customer.
John: We need to deliberately seek feedback from our customers and other people who are interested in our organisation such as the local community who are also our stakeholders. There are people and other organisations such as the local council that impact on whether our organisation survives. We need to find out what our stakeholders expect of the organisation. We can use surveys or other tools to find out what they expect from us.
The three agreed on the importance of following up on the ideas of customers and other stakeholders. If their ideas are ignored then they may be less committed to the organisation. They also discussed the importance of reviewing indirect sources of information in relation to the changing needs of our customers, including journals and publications that give us information on how customer needs may be changing.
Jessica recapped: We discussed monitoring of performance against standards previously but I suspect there are many other sources of information to consider in respect to knowing the current situation and needs of our customers.
They listed accounting records (reflecting the payment record of customers), repair records and sales records as being sources that may provide information on the needs of their customers.
This paper answers the following questions on the case study – <br />1. From the case study identify two external customer relationships. Describe the needs and wants of each of the external customers nominated. (50 words) <br />2. From the case study identify one internal customer relationship. Describe the needs and wants of the customer. (50 words) <br />3. With regard to the customer requirements, and in particular cost and time constraints, identify a key customer service issue for one of the organisations mentioned in the case study. How would you resolve this issue? (100 words) <br />4. Amira describes a customer service standard against which the provision of customer service can be measured. Suggest another customer service standard against which customer service in the gymnasium could be measured. Present the standard in a table with the columns headed Standard, Service levels and Actions. (200 words) <br />5. The case study talks about the importance of monitoring informal comments by customers. Design a form that could be used by one of the organisations in the case study for recording informal comments made by customers. Include the type of information to be recorded and who should receive the completed forms. (200 words) <br />6. Suggest another mentoring or coaching process that could be used by one of the organisations to help ensure that staff is able to effectively meet customer needs. (100 words) <br />7. Develop a short survey or comment card that could be used to gain information from customers on their level of satisfaction with the organisation’s provision of customer service. Include the reason for the survey in the introduction, no more than six questions (with scaled responses of Poor, Needs Improvement, Satisfactory and Superior) and an open question where customers can make general comments. (200 words) <br />8. Suggest a situation when feedback from a stakeholder in one of the organisations may have been ignored, or not acknowledged, or considered unimportant. Suggest how you think a customer might react. (50 words) <br />9. Nominate one record kept by one of the organisations to show how well service is being provided. Suggest another record from which you could gain information on how well service is being provided to customers. What information might these records provide in relation to the quality of customer service provided? (50 words) <br />
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