Category Archives: Customer Requirements

Customer Service Experience

Is there a limit to the services that one can offer? My answer continues to be NO in long run. In Short run it may limited by constraints like Budget, Policy, Competence.

In this context I would like narrate a personal experience. Most of us are familiar with the issue of weak signals on our mobile phones. The signals in mobile telephony can be either weak or fluctuating at a particular point in time and/ or location.

The experience with most Indian Mobile phone operators would be largely limited to

  1. We are sorry for the inconvenience. We have forwarded your complaint to our technical department. OR,
  2. Please check your handset if you have any setting issues OR
  3. There are some technical problem in the tower near your location, we would revert to you as soon as it gets over
  4. ….

In some rare instance the technical department would call to get same information that you had provided them during the initial interaction. It is often so irritating to complaint that we prefer to live with or some time change the service provider.

In contrast, I had a different experience with a Mobile Phone Operator in Bahrain. I had purchased a Prepaid 3 G Data connection for use of internet during my visits to Bahrain. I might be paying the company approx. 3 Bahraini Dinar per month and sometime less than that (1 Bahraini Dinar is approx. 2.78  US Dollars). The operator is known as VIVA Bahrain (

I had problem of the consistency and strength of signal from my hotel room. I had lodged a complaint and contacted support on live chat. They gathered all the details. They followed it through a message with expected time to resolve. Next day evening, the hotel receptionist calls me and inform that I have a visitor. I was wondering who this could be, as I know very few people in Bahrain and all of them were part of my meeting during the day. I was then told the person is from VIVA. The gentlemen was a technical person from  VIVA. He came with his laptop and some gadgets. Spent about 15 minutes in my room and then he look into settings in my WIFI device. He explained me the problem. He also explained me the limitation. In place of asking me to live with problem, he provided me a solution that meets my purpose. I also noticed his work style. He was preparing his technical visit report while he was speaking to me. He was constantly taking snapshot of the screen info coming from his laptop to the report.

This experience was a kind of thrilling experience as I have never thought of such service from a Service Provider. This was despite the fact (which they were aware of) that I am not likely to be their regular customer and I am not a permanent resident of Bahrain.

I am quite sure as an organisation they would have invested in their people and process to enable such deliveries. I had a great experience from their shop as well when I purchased the product. When I narrate this to group of people, often participants ask me can we keep doing this. I remind them of the famous statement by Dr Deming.

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.



Quality – Measuring what gets Delivered

Quality is what we deliver. Every organisation works on measuring their product or services delivery performance.  A few pertinent questions around Delivery Performance Measurement are:

1. Are we Measuring what we are Delivering?

The most obvious response to this would be “yes”.  However, often these measurements are from business or organisations perspective not customers perspective. For example, a recruitment consulting organisation was measuring the proportion of requirements (positions) that have been closed, but the time taken to close was not getting measured. Even in cases when it was being measured, the definition of start point and end point of the process was not defined. Often organisations view is narrower than customers’ view. For example, the consulting company may look at starting point as the time when they received requirement, but customer may be considering the start point as the time when they have communicated or released order. In most repair workshop the start time on job is from the time the vehicle was handed over to workshop. For customer the count down begins from the time he has entered the workshop.

2. Do we tell customers what we are delivering?

There must be organisations who are measuring a lot of indicators. How much of it is being communicated to customers? Even when it is communicated, it is communicated only when it is asked for. A common example is in the banks. Most banks have defined and displayed SLA’s on how long it should take for customers to get their services from a counter for different category of services. Some examples are time taken to get a demand draft or time taken to withdraw cash etc. How many times customers are told the performance of the Bank on those parameters? Why declare a standard if it doesn’t get measured or do not get shared. Another example would be TataSky (in India) may be communicating with customers on the additions of channels or new services. But they rarely communicate the data on outages (downtime) in services for various reasons that can be assigned to their delivery performance.

3. Do we inform our stakeholders on what we are delivering?

There are others in the organisation who would be interested in knowing what is being delivered. In many FMCG companies, it is very common to provide more than declared quantity to ensure compliance. This is often called as Give Away. There are many instances where this is not measured periodically and communicated to all stakeholders.  There have been instance of complaints on lesser weights / quantity based on what was being given not based on what is declared.

A survey conducted by ASQ along with American Productivity and Quality Centre (APQC) was published in August 2013 issue of Quality Progress. One of the interesting finding was that only 27% of organisations agreed that they provide information about delivery to their customers. The rest were either not providing or providing it in parts. What is more worrying is only 33% of front-line staff measures this on a daily basis. At this level of measurement, any improvement in customer delivery performance would be either incidental or in pockets.  This article is available at Access to this article may require membership to ASQ.

It is important to understand the reasons behind the instances and issues relating to measuring and communicating Delivery Performance Measure:

  1. Many professionals do not invest in understanding the requirements of the customer. The “marketing” today at ground level has become more of “what organisation provides” rather than “what issues of customer gets resolved” This calls for switching from “looking from organisation’s perspective” to “looking from customer’s perspective. This often requires investment and building knowledge about how customers uses the products and services. Such approaches would lead to genuine Value Additions from customer’s perspective. A leading service provider had divided it customers into Premium and General category. The only differentiating factor was the price that is being charged to the customers. The service delivery and communication of service delivery was same. This obviously over a period became a key factor in poor performances leading to significant customer’s dissatisfaction.
  2. The business and customers is progressively moving towards services. The products are merging into service. Most products are already a commodity or it is only a matter of time that they become commodity. Measuring services requires different tools, different thinking.
  3. Most stakeholders at the senior management get worried about services only after customer has submitted a formal complaint. The result of such thinking approach is that most organisation today measures “number of customer complaints received”. Most organisation have objectives on reducing customer complaints and often linked to the Performance Criterion of their managers.  This is possibly the easiest objective to achieve to impress the senior management in short run. The easiest way to achieve this would be to ignore complaints or convert complaints into inquiry.

Organisation would need to re-look at their processes and measurement system to bring in changes. Some of the steps would be

  1. Conduct a processing mapping exercise from customer’s perspective
  2. Minimize all measures that are not expectation of the customers
  3. Eliminate (if possible) all lag measures that are not  of customers’ interest
  4. Create a strong MIS or provide access to customers to know the status by themselves on the performance levels.