Understanding Customer Service/Post Module Assignment

| January 3, 2016

Understanding Customer Service/Post Module Assignment

Question 1 :
Give an example of a good and an example of a bad experience of customer service from a customer or provider perspective . Analyse the behavior of both parties , based on the experiences and how they could improved form the coustomer’s point of view. Your answer should be referenced by the relevant literature and also refer to the 10 commandments of customer service ..

The 10 Commandments of Exceptional Customer Service: 150 Ideas for Improving Service by Mark Sanborn copyright 2001-2004
https://www.marksanborn.com/pdfs/10-customer.pdf

Answer 1 :
Customers are an integral part of any organisation, and it is highly important for the organisation to fulfil the needs and desires of the customers as it helps to build customer loyalty. A good and quality customer service helps to increase the customer satisfaction and creates a deep relationship between the organisation and the customers (Jahanshahi, 2011). The following discussion has come across the examples of good customer service provided by Apple and bad customer service provided by UPC. Along with this, the report has come across the manner in which the company could improve their customer service and the relationship with the customers. Furthermore, the commandants used by Apple , in providing excellent customer service, will also be discussed.
Excellent Customer Service of Apple
Apple is one of the renowned companies in the world, and the customer satisfaction depicts its success. Its positive reputation spells the success of its brand name. One of the reasons for the success of Apple is that they deliver the value services to the customers. Customers feel as a part of Apple brand when they purchase the product. Apple has a strong brand identity and customers like to associate themselves with those brands, which have a strong brand identity (Pinson and Brosdahl, n.d).
The reason for excellent customer satisfaction of Apple is that it cares about its design. The users of Apple appreciate its unique design and features, which is understood by the company, and for this, they have received compliments. It shows that they value customers’ intention (Barlow, 2010). ”The acronym of Apple’s A stands for Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome. P stands for Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs, P stands for Present a solution for the customer to take home today, and L stands for Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns. Additionally, E stands for End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return” (Denning, 2011).
It has also been observed that Apple is a pioneer in providing excellent customer service because the sales associates are also taught to solve customers’ problems along with teaching them the philosophies of sales. Apple stores welcome customers with a warm personalised welcome. Various stores at Apple provide training to their staff and also try to design the stores, which would make customers attracted to it.
Apple follows the customers’ commandant, which states that contact should be made with the customers in such a manner that it becomes memorable for them. It could be understood from the fact that in the year 2010, the sales of Apple retail store rose to 7% and reached the sales of $11.7 billion (Kane and Sherr, 2011). This states that the outlet of Apple is such that it is able to attract customers.
Another philosophy followed by Apple is that they do not focus on making money instead their objective is to delight the customers because a satisfied customer will again make a way to purchase the products. The innovative products developed by Apple like iPod, iPad, and Mac have been positioned in such away in the minds of the customers that goes along with the perception of customers. Customers enjoy using innovative products and ideas, and Apple understands it (Ogg, 2010).
Apple has also developed online support services for the users, where they are provided service help for different categories of Apple’s products like Mac, iPad, iPhone, iWatch, Tv, and music. It also provides assistance to the customers regarding the best location for them to purchase it. This depicts that the ease of handling customer support has been considered by Apple (Apple, 2015). The acronym of Apple depicts that they see everything through the eyes of customers, which is the third commandment of customer service.
Along with this, they also provide standardised services to the customer. This can be examined from the fact that customers using Apple products get the same service level irrespective of the customer care executive they speak to. Another philosophy of Apple, which has kept it ahead of every other company, is its unique proposition, which states that company should not try to sell its product rather it stands for solving problems of the customers.
On the basis of the above discussion, it can be said that excellent customer service is an inseparable part of company’s activity, and this concept is very well understood by Apple. It was also seen that Ghana Commercial Bank was not able to provide good customer service and was using the traditional method of banking transaction and have not adopted the global standards of conducting business. Certain recommendations were also provided, which could help Ghana Commercial Bank to improve its customers services like installation of ATM and electronic fund transfer.
Furthermore, the incredible services provided by Apple have also been discussed, and it was seen that the customer service provided by Apple is incredible from all perspective because they consider serving customers is more important than making a profit. It was also seen that the acronym Apple stands for serving customers in an appropriate way, and the company follows customer commandant, which states that contact should be made with the customers in such a manner that it becomes memorable for them.

Bad Experience of Customer Service by UPC (Virgin Media in Ireland)
Virgin Media is private telecommunication company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland (Virginmedia, 2015). The company offers cable television, telephone services, broadcast television and broadband services to the customers. It was formally traded as UPC. UPC has been renamed as Virgin Media and the customers experience regarding the usage of Virgin Media was not a good experience. There were technical problems in the mobile services. This could be illustrated through the experience of one of the users of Virgin Mobile, who complained to the customer service that her phone was not working, to which the representative replied that the services to her phone will not be restored till the end of the month.
The customer care representatives had no clue about the problem of the customers so they could not address it in the right way. Even though the problem was fixed, the customer could make calls from her phone (Smithers, 2014). The problem was fixed in such a manner that customer could only receive calls. Before the company went on to re-brand itself as Virgin Mobile, it had already lost a majority of its customers. Although, in the company, the services of its phone users increased over the past years, it still lost a majority of its customers. Along with this, the customers are dissatisfied with the landline services of Virgin Media. The customer service of the company was not satisfactory from the point of view of the customers.
Only 53% of the customers were satisfied with the services, and its rating was far lower than other companies (Satherley, 2011). The broadband services of Virgin Media were also not satisfactory for the customers. When compared with other broadband providers, it was seen that Virgin was a bit ahead, but its services were still not satisfactory for the customers.
The customers’ paid for 100 Mbps broadband connection, but the speed of the broadband was never more than 15 Mbps. In spite of checking all the router settings, the problem did not get fixed. The most common problem encountered by the customers was related to the bad experience of encountering customer care services as the information, which the customers received, were inconsistent. None of the customer service representatives was able to handle the problem of the customers appropriately. Most of the times, the customers service representatives did not attend the calls, which was more frustrating for the customers (Satherley, 2011).
Another example of dissatisfactory services was that their web page showed that all products for broadband connection were available, but the technician was not able to fix the problem. The signal cables were also broken and the price for repairing it was considered to be too expensive.
The charges for the services, which the customer had to pay to the company, were also hefty. The cost of providing services was also high, and these activities are harmful from the customers’ point of view. In one of the incidences, it was seen that the spam filters of Virgin Media had blocked various emails and addresses, and only those customers, who shifted to Virgin Media, were facing this problem (Hall, 2015). The customers even approached company’s forum to file the complaint regarding the blockage of emails.
The customers’ complaints were specifically related to the blockage of email accounts and they also regret having used Virgin Media platform. This kind of dissatisfactory reaction by the customers is harmful for the company, as well as for the customers. The customers were not able to receive authentic and genuine emails, which hampered their business activities (Hall, 2015). Although the company said that they are trying to fix the problem, there were a lot of problem encountered by the customers, which brought bad image and name to the company.

On the basis of the above analysis, it was observed that good customer service is an inseparable part of a business activity and a good image in the eyes of customers can help the company to earn good profit ratio. Apple , understood this concept very well and delivered services, which were valued by the customers. This can be seen from the fact that the company was the top for providing the best services to its customers. It was also seen that Virgin Media, which was earlier known as UPC, was not able to impress its customers because of its bad services. The frequent problem encountered was in providing good speed broadband network. Along with this, the customer service operators were not able to understand the problems effectively.

Question 2:
Analyse the idea surrounding the ( moment of truth ) and Albrecht’s approach to the distinctive characteristics of effective customer service . How helpful are these approaches in understanding effective customer care .

Answer 2 :
In order to survive in the today’s fiercely competitive environment, it is essential that a company makes efforts to differentiate itself from its competitors. In the present business world, the pricing and the product attributes are not adequate differentiators to gain a competitive advantage. The fierce competition has made companies to reduce their prices, and they are only making marginal profits and the technological advancements have made technology accessible to all the companies, which have made all the products almost identical. Since all these attributes are no longer sufficient to attract new customers or retain older ones, the companies have realised the importance of the good customer service as an important differentiator for attracting customers A high service quality means providing an excellent experience to the customers, which is more than the customer’s expectations (Zemke and Woods, 1999). A high quality of service can help a company attract new customers and retain the existing ones. The value of providing a high-quality of service at the moment of truth has become critically important as the service sector has become an integral part of the economy and a large number of options are available for the same product or service.
A moment of truth is defined as the moment within the complete cycle of the customer service when the customer interacts directly with the service and makes an impression about the quality of the service. Within a service cycle, there are usually two or three occurrences of the moment of truth. It is necessary that during a moment of truth, there is some sort of interaction between the customers and the employees of the company (Martinez and Hobbi, 2008; Zemke and Woods, 1999). Any service cycle may include two or more occurrences of the moment of truth, but there are often a few moments of truth, which are more important than others. These moments are called the critical moment of truth. The critical moments of the truth are most vital in shaping the customer’s perception about the company.
A positive experience in the critical moment of truth will lead to customer satisfaction and eventually, customer loyalty whereas a bad moment of truth will lead to bad reputation and loss of customers. Creating positive moments of truth is essential for the customer retention and loyalty. The first step in building customer loyalty is the identification of the moment of truth, and after this, the company should set a standard of excellence. These standards are built on the level of the service the company aims to provide. A high-quality customer service uses customer friendly attitude, communication with the customers and creating good relationships (Zemke and Woods, 1999). A friendly attitude of the service professionals will also help in building customer loyalty. The moment of the truth can occur when the company is offering its products or services. Some other examples of the moment of truth are greeting the customers, providing discounts and the manner in which consumer complaints or queries are handled.
Albrecht (2002) has discussed that moment of truth is an attribute that forces business people to think of customer service as a competitive advantage. Providing the best quality service means giving the best experience to the customers at each instance of the moment of truth. The moments of truth are highly personal experiences and let the customer know that they are appreciated and genuinely valued. The management of moments of truth is essential for adequate service management (Gronroos, 1993).
Every time a service company interacts with a customer, the customer forms a perception about the company with the quality of the service he receives. Each time the customer receives a service, this perception is altered, and the sum of repeated assessment establishes an image in the customer’s mind regarding the service. It is important to provide high-quality customer service consistently to gain a good image in the mind of customers. Further, Albrecht (2002) has discussed that taking the example of British Airways to identify what are the most crucial factors that changes the perception of the customer towards the service quality. These factors were care and concern, spontaneity, problem-solving and recovery. The care and the concern are the behaviour of the service professionals towards the customers (Zemke, Bacon and Bell, 2000). Spontaneity for customers means that if an unusual situation arises, then the customers have a right to know what the service professionals can do for them. The problem-solving is used to indicate that the employees must be able to solve the complex problems that may arise in the working. The last factor is the recovery, which means that if a problematic situation arises again and again, then the management should adopt some serious measures to correct it. The service professionals should go out of the way to help the customers to get out of a problematic situation.
Albrecht (2002) has further emphasised on the fact that if a moment of truth is not managed properly, the customer might develop a mediocre perception of the quality of the service. In the service industry, it is important to achieve differentiation with the competitors to survive. An efficient service must give evidence to its customers that its service has some unique offerings. The customer expectations about the quality of service are regularly increasing. For example, SAS, an airline service, built its reputation on its punctuality. It advertised itself as a business man airline, which will always land on time. After a few years, when other airline companies started to match its punctuality, the popularity of the service reduced ( Gagliano, and Hathcote, 1994). The advertising campaigns failed as the customers assumed that punctuality is the basic attribute of an airline service and it is not exceptional quality. Thus, the customer’s expectations are increasing with time.
The service quality can be improved if the service is viewed as a product. Service is different from a product as it is produced at the time of delivery, it cannot be transferred to a different party and it cannot be replaced. The quality of the service of an organisation can be improved with the identification of the moments of the truth within the service. The cycle of the service is the complete service provided by an organisation to the customers. Albrecht (2002) has defined the cycle of service as “A repeatable sequence of events in which various people try to meet the customer’s expectation and needs at each point” (Albrecht, 2002, p. 37). The cycle of service is different for each and every business model. It can be different for each service within the organisation and every individual customer will also have a different version of the cycle of service. There are three features that differentiate the outstanding service quality from mediocre service quality: a well- conceived strategy, customer oriented service professionals and customer friendly systems. A well-conceived strategy is the one in which the organisations have discovered or identified the idea about how to serve the customers efficiently. This strategy should drive the attention of the people of the organisation towards the priorities of the customers. The customer oriented service professional means that all the frontline people, who directly interacts with the customers, should be customer oriented. It means that the managers have motivated their employees to keep their attention on the needs of the customers. The service professional should have the ability to understand the need of customers and their current situation. Other than that, they should be responsive and attentive to the customers such that the customers consider the quality of the service superior to other organisations and come back again for the service. Outstanding service quality organisations have customer friendly systems. The customer intimacy is also important for building customer loyalty. It is a method of going out of one’s way to interact with the customers to understand their needs in a better way for a better service quality and product development ( Treachy, 2007).
It is important to consider the fact that the system of the organisation is built for the ease and comfort of the customers rather than for the convenience of the employee. The whole system of the organisation should be friendly to retain customers and build a new customer base. The triangle of service is represents three elements of the service strategy, namely business people, systems and the customers. The triangle of service represents the business as a process rather than a structure and focuses on including the customers in the perception of the business.
The moments of the truth are the occasions in which the customers come in contact with the service of the organisation and get an impression of its service. Utilising the moment of truth is the most effective way to distinguish the organisation from its business competitors. A moment of truth is a minor event; however, over time, it can build customer loyalty or on the downside, result in the loss of customers. When a customer interacts with the service, he forms a good perception or a bad perception, and there are very few chances that he will make a neutral experience. These moments are precious for the company and considerable efforts on giving the best experience on the moment of truth will help in achieving service excellence.
References :
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Barlow, J. 2010. Branded Customer Service: The New Competitive Edge. ReadHowYouWant.com
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Gagliano, K. B. and Hathcote, J. 1994. Customer Expectations and Perceptions of Service Quality in Retail Apparel Specialty Stores. Journal of Services Marketing 8(1), pp. 60-69.
Gronroos, C. 1993. From Scientific Management to Service Management. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 5(1), pp. 5-20.
Hall, K. 2015. Hapless Virgin Media customers face ongoing email block woes. [Online]. Available: http://internetretailing.net/2015/03/boots-to-harness-power-of-mobile-apps-to-improve-its-customer-service/ [Accessed: 18 December 2015].
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