As of beginning of April, 2012, Bulgarian Management Association will launch its Service Quality Program. Information about the program is provided below.

Service Quality Program

The Service Quality Programe of the Bulgarian Management Association aims at organizations that want to Be Seen as the Best Quality and Service Providers on the market they operate. We believe that this can be achieved through development of competitive advantages in the following four areas:

  • High quality customer service.
  • Highly efficient and effective organization.
  • Minimal operating costs by standardization and control.

The following report provides some guidelines on the implementation of the Service Quality Program (SQP). It first includes introduction of main program’s components, continues with an overview of program’s organizational structure, briefly describes training sessions to support the program, provides information on the modes of collecting information and the measures to be used to track customer satisfaction, offers a system of recognition, rewards and compensation techniques, and finally suggests a process of managing complaints

I. Introduction

The main strategic objective of many organizations that strive for leading position on the market is to achieve high quality of customer service. Therefore our Service Vision can be defined as Providing an Exceptional and Unmatchable Service to Every Customer.

The first step in achieving the Service Vision will be to launch a series of staff and customer surveys to identify the gap (see Figure 1) between the state of service provided and the state of service that need to be achieved (the Service Vision). Based on surveys’ findings we will be able to appropriately deploy organization’s Mission, Vision and Values through integration of Program’s major components - training, measures and awards.

Figure 1.

Figure 1

As a result a new Corporate Culture of Valuing Every Customer and Striving for Service Excellence will be established and is expected to be in full effect within a year after the start of the Program.

II. Organization of the SQP

A key organizational unit of the Service Quality Program will be the Quality Circle (QC) established at unit level (Figure 2). The Quality Circle will be a team of people who meet regularly to discuss quality related work problems so that they may examine and generate solutions to these. Its main purpose is to support the continuous service quality improvement at unit/department level. QC meetings will be organized once a week or by-weekly and will be a social venue to discuss:

  • Tthe current state of service quality
  • Individual and team achievements in service quality
  • Current client’s requirements, expectations and complaints
  • Ideas for service improvements
  • Nominees for service quality awards

Figure 2.

Figure 2

Ideas, suggestions, nominees for awards, etc., discussed at QC meetings, should be put on paper and sent to a cross-functional team (e.g. Service Quality Committee (SQC). SQC will be the central organizational body of the program. It will discuss service quality issues brought by QCs and will take major decisions in regard to the implementation, continuation and improvement of SQP. Other functions of SQC may include:

  • monitors SQ measures
  • suggests SQ measures
  • reviews the results of Quality Circles’ meetings
  • discusses/ approves SQ training programs
  • discusses/approves SQ Recognition and Reward Programs
  • suggests improvements in Bank’s processes that would lead to better customer service

The composition of SQC and an agenda for its first meeting are provided in Appendix 1. SQC’s functions and regularity of meetings should be further discussed and agreed.

III. Training

Training is one of the mechanisms to be used to increase the quality of service and achieve the objectives of the Program. In general service quality training should include a number of case studies and team exercises with the purpose to standardize associate’s actions in typical service situations. Service concepts and tools will also be presented to help associates in better analyzing and improving their work.

It is suggested to divide the training into three levels – basic, medium and advanced (Appendix 2). The basic level will be a one-day training that will provide understanding of Organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values and will train associates in using standard procedures for greeting and serving customers.

The medium and advanced level trainings can be implemented a year after completion of the first level training. Their sessions will discuss issues raised at level one training and will introduce several service concepts and tools.

IV. Measuring Service Quality

This section explores (i) the methods used to gather information, and (ii) the measures used to track customer satisfaction.

1. Modes of collecting external and internal data.

Finding out what organization’s associates and customers think about the quality of our service/products is a vital element of the Program. To do this the following modes of collecting external and internal information will be used:

a.) Collecting external information.

- Questionnaires mailed to corporate customers. The purpose of this campaign will be to identify (i) the level of trust in the organization (as an institution), (ii) the level of satisfaction from products and services, and (iii) and possible areas for improvement. The questionnaire will be an adjunct to a letter explaining the purpose of the survey and signed by the Executive Director. Mails with questionnaires can also be sent to retail customers although the response rate may not be as high as the one expected from corporate customers.

- Face-to-face interviews with customers. The purpose is to identify what the customers think about our products and services. This mode of collecting information is suggested since it is important to find customer’s opinion immediately before and after the service is consumed. Although relatively expensive face-to-face interviews are expected to provide high validity of information and constructive suggestions for service improvement.

- Telephone or face-to-face interviews with lost customers. The purpose will be to gain more insights about the purchase decisions of already lost customers. It will be more appropriate to do this over the telephone. If this method is inefficient, i.e. no information can be obtained over the telephone, former customers should be called and asked for face-to-face interviews.

b.) Collecting internal information.

Internal information will be collected with three purposes – generating ideas for improvements, measuring the accuracy and speed of our work, and testing the work related knowledge of associates. Four modes of collecting information will be used:

- Employee opinion survey. The purpose of the survey will be to identify how associates rate their performance, what major constraints to service excellence they face, and what do they think needs to be done to achieve improvements. Valuable information will be collected if such surveys are initiated before and after implementation of SQP and other projects that target operational and service improvements.

- Observations. The purpose will be to collect data needed to measure specific service quality indicators. In particular, this technique will be used to find out the Turnaround/cycle time and the Error rate of key processes (see Section IV.2.2. Measures, Operational Efficiency indicators). Supervisors, line staff or external people will be appointed to measure time and report errors.

- Tests. Tests are the most appropriate way to assess associates’ knowledge about company’s products and services. Short, fixed time tests can accessed through the Intranet and submitted electronically each quarter. Assessment can also be done electronically, therefore minimizing the time needed for administration.

- Automatically generated data. This method will be used to calculate several growth indicators specified in Section IV.2.3. Measures, Market Share indicators. All data will be obtained from MIS.

2. Measures to track customer satisfaction

It is suggested to have three groups of measures – (i) Overall Satisfaction, (ii) Operational Efficiency and (iii) Market Share.

The first group, Overall Satisfaction, will include two direct indicators of customer’s perception about our products and services: (i) Level of trust in the organization; and (ii) Level of satisfaction with products and services. Variations of these indicators will also be tracked to provide for the meaningful content of the above two statements. For more details, see Appendix 3.

Figure 3.

Figure 3

Overall Satisfaction indicators are important but they have certain deficiencies as well. For example, they are symptoms of organization’s performance and they do not provide information on the causes for the quality of service/products. Customer satisfaction indicators show the result of how efficiently/effectively we work on issues that create value for the customer. Therefore, between customer’s opinion, tracked by surveys, and the quality we offer at certain moment exists a time lag of probably several months. This is why it is important to have a second group of measures - Operational Efficiency measures. They will point out at major causes for the level of service quality and will provide “early-warning” information on the expected customer satisfaction. This will allow us to take actions well in advance and prevent any decline in customer satisfaction.

The Operational Efficiency group will initially include three indicators: (i) Turnaround/ cycle time; (ii) Error rate; and (iii) Product Knowledge. Variations of these indicators will include key and measurable bank processes that will be identified later.

A third group of indicators, Market Share indicators, should also be tracked with two main purposes: (i) to measure the appropriateness of SQP in achieving business objectives as growth in ………, and growth in customer base; and (ii) to figure out whether the right measures are used to assess the level of customer satisfaction. This group of measures will be very useful to find out whether there is a strong positive correlation between the efforts we make to improve the service, the way we measure satisfaction, and the growth objectives of the organization.

V. Recognition and Rewards

A system of recognition, rewards and compensation techniques should also be in place as motivators for associates to provide high quality customer service. The system will reward individual and team performance and is suggested to include the following awards:

- Service Model: This should be an encouragement award given each month to associates who exhibit a one-off service excellence, high quality of work, helpfulness and positive work attitude whilst performing the task he/she was employed for within his/her department

- Service Leader: This award should be granted each quarter to individuals who has shown distinctive service excellence performed above and beyond the call of duty. One Service Leaders at every region should be nominated four times per year

- Service Excellence Team: This award should be granted each month to teams that provide excellent service to meet customer’s needs. Service Excellence Teams should be appointed at regional and corporate level. Therefore four regional and one corporate teams will be selected every month

- Annual Service Superstar Award: This award should be granted to an associate who has shown continuous service excellence throughout the year. Usually, nominees for this award should be all recipients of the Service Model and Service Leader awards

- Annual Service Excellence Team Award: This award should be granted to the team, which has shown continuous service excellence throughout the year. Nominees for this award should be all recipients of the Service Excellent Team award.

More details on the service excellence awards are provided in Table 1 (below) and in Appendix 4.

Table 1.

Table 1

VI. Managing Complaints

A well established complaints management process is an essential part of any customer-focused corporate culture. To be effective such process should include three important mechanisms: (i) customer access and contact mechanisms, (ii) mechanism to analyze complaints and offer remedies, and (iii) deployment mechanism to ensure efficient implementation of suggested changes.

1. Customer Access and Contact Mechanisms

Organization’s access and contact mechanisms need to be further developed to accommodate the referrals and complaints process. For example, the following may encourage customers to provide us with more feedback information:

- Special plates should be placed on the counters so that they are easily seen by customers. These plates will explain how important is for us to know what do customers think, will provide information on the existence of referrals and complaints procedures, and will specify the ways customers can contact us.

- All customer contact associates should be instructed to provide disgruntled customers with information on the available ways to send complaints. Ghost shoppers might be used to check whether associates act in accordance with these instructions.

- Company’s web site should have a designated page with an option to send referrals and complaints. It should also provide information on the efforts we make to collect customer feedback information and to improve the quality of service. The page would usually be linked to the “Contact Us” button on the company’s home page.

- Product promotion campaigns may include implicit messages of how concerned we are about our customers’ opinions and how important is to hear their voices.

2. Mechanism to Analyze Referrals and Complaints

Figure 4 provides an example of a mechanism that can be used to aggregate data on referrals and complaints, analyze systematically occurring problems, and find remedial tools for improvement.

Figure 4.

Figure 4

The mechanism will empower associates to solve complaints on the spot, where possible, and then report them for further analysis. It also suggests that aggregate data will be reviewed and analyzed by cross-functional teams. And finally, recurring problems will be evaluated for root causes and solutions found and acted upon. Standard document forms need to be developed to record referrals, complaints and actions taken in response.

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