In order to define customer service excellence it will be helpful to look at how the concept of 'quality' has been defined. Common models of quality include:
- conformance to requirements (Crosby);
- fit for the purpose (Juran);
- 'the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated and implied need' (ISO 8402:1994);
- right first time – every time;
- quality models such as Total Quality Management (TQM).
Another one could be "doing ordinary things extraordinarily well!"
These are useful tools for getting tour guides to think about how to improve the quality of their products/services. They were mainly about products rather than services. Let’s look at some of the features.
- 'Conformance to requirements' – assumes that we know what the requirements are and that we are correct in our assumptions. It suggests that that we know what is best for our customers.
- 'Fit for the purpose' – relates to mainly products and still assumes that we know how the product will be used. When applied to notions of customer service excellence, you quickly realise that only bad service would not be fit for the purpose i.e. inappropriate!
- 'the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated and implied need' (ISO 8402:1994) – Needs may be stated in the form of specifications by the customer or they may not be stated but they are implied by convention, by customer’s expectations or by statutory requirements.
- 'Right first time – every time' - Now what exactly does this mean? – Once we have delivered service excellence, can we copy that as a model for every customer and every situation? We know that our service should be appropriate to the circumstances – we naturally deal differently with a customer whose anger is justified and with another customer whose anger is not justified!