Customer service requires meeting customer expectations.  It’s really that simple.  The research of Valarie A. Zeithaml, A. Parasuraman, and Leonard L. Berry in the 1980s found customers measure their expectations of service with the actual service provided to them.  If you meet or exceed their expectations, they feel you are interested in them and they will be interested in you in return; therefore, they are satisfied.  If you don’t, they will be unsatisfied … and well … we all know what that means … they take their business elsewhere. Let’s not make them do that!

Last week I talked about Andrei, the salesperson from the dealership where I got this car almost a month ago.  I’d like to tell you more about Andrei and his great customer service.

Customer ServiceI must first explain there are five things every customer expects. The first of these identified by Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and Berry, is “Assurance.”  So, what does that mean?  Assurance is your ability to convey competence, confidence, and trust to your customers.  How Andrei provided this thing called assurance is … 1) he knew the ins and outs of the car I was interested in – competence, 2) his demeanor, the way he talked, and the way he carried himself was sure without being arrogant – confidence, and 3) the combination of his competence and confidence won our belief in him – trust.  Nice job Andrei!

My challenge for you is to write a list of what your team does to provide assurance for your customers.  How do they demonstrate competence?  How do they show confidence?  What are they doing to earn trust?

I’ll see you next week to tell you more about Andrei and how he met customer expectation number two!

*Note: Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and Berry’s research produced a customer satisfaction measurement tool named SERVQUAL which is still widely use

d to determine how satisfied customers are.