Chua, Richard C.H., Ph.D. (1992, ASQC) Andersen Consultant, Minneapolis, MN
As services emerge as a major sector of the economy, what constitutes quality service and how quality service is measured assume greater importance. Because Total Quality Management (TQM) practice has been more widely implemented in manufacturing environments, many organizations erroneously have employed manufacturing benchmarks to measure service. This application of a manufacturing paradigm in the service industries, however, often fails. This article proposes a five-step customer focus paradigm for measuring quality in services, based entirely on answering the question, "What's important to customers?" Step one identifies what service characteristics are relevant to the customer. Quality is defined by the customer, and a customer-driven definition of quality is the ability to anticipate and to exceed customers' expectations. To determine how a customer defines quality, it is recommended that an organization employ customer surveys, interviews, focus groups, and the critical incident techniques. Management must actively listen to the customer and use the input to design (or re-design) service. Based on what the customer wants, step two entails the development of valid and reliable quality measures. For each quality measure developed, standards of performance must be established, the third step. Once service standards have been established, the fourth step entails regularly measuring performance and comparing it to standards. Measurement and feedback are critical for improvement. The fifth step calls for the development of plans to increase customer satisfaction. The cycle should be repeated, or at least revisited, to ensure customer focus and continuous improvement.
Customer satisfaction (CS),Customer surveys,Service sector