Service encounter is person-to-person interactions between customers and service providers. Over the past six weeks, I realized my interaction with the service providers played a vital role in improving my perceptions regarding service quality, as they also influenced my satisfaction and brand perception. As a result, the good service I received had increased my long-term loyalty, lead to positive word-of-mouth and higher profitability for the service organizations I encountered. On the other hand, I found those service organizations that provided unpleasant customer experiences were solely focused on operational profitability, rather than on creating value to customers.
In order for those companies to gain market share and be able to stay in the long run, I recommend them to focus on reducing service defection, as it will ultimately lead to an increase in value for the service organization and customers. Indeed, reduced operating costs, improved comprehension of customer needs, effective targeting and increased opportunity of cross selling of bundled products/services could be achieved as customer loyalty increased. This summary will further emphasizing the importance of enhancing service performance by examining the similarities and differences among my service encounters, as well as pointing out potential suggestions for those service organization that could not meet my adequate expectation as an ordinary customer. Similarities
Among all satisfied service encounters, I realized all frontline employees were able to create rapport with customers. These outstanding service providers were capable to offer the feeling of care, friendliness and personal interactions. I realized these dedicated employees I encountered with not only show empathy, but also had a genuine concern for customer’s need and feelings. For example, when I was trying to call Comcast to solve a technician no-show situation, the only service representative I felt very pleasant working with was able to develop a personal relationship with me by not only fulfilling physical labor, but also emotion labor that presented a desirable performance. He was able to understand my anxiety as I called more than 30 minutes yet none of his co-workers were able to solve the issue. He was empathetic, responsive and willing to show that he cared about the customers by sending me a $25 refund as compensation.
Overall I believe these rapports connected to customers had led to established trust and allowed customers to feel good (inexplicit service) as the service meet/ exceed customer expectations. Another attribute to excellent service encounter requires employees to be flexible, meaning those empowering service providers have less restriction and they allow customers to achieve convenience to the maximum degree. In my experiences, flexibility was an important attribute that allowed frontline employees to create successful service encounter with me. For instance, I was late 15 minutes for my appointment with the Fairview Clinic, yet the receptionist still willing to help check physician’s availability and allow me to complete couple routine check up to reduce waiting time. The receptionist had saved my time and gave me the feeling that my need (wanted to see the doctor even though I was late) was being understood. By customizing the service and adding extra service component, Fairview made me felt valued by its employees and therefore I was satisfied. Difference
Compared with those unsatisfied service encounters, responsive and competent employees are more likely to deliver superior customer experiences. In terms of responsiveness, the behaviors of frontline employees primarily determined my reception of service encounter. I noticed that employees shaped the moment of truth not only by the tasks they performed, but also by the way they looked, talked, and interacted with customers. Meanwhile, it’s critical for employees to have the right skill sets, tools and motivation to provide extraordinary service encounter. This principle reminded me a situation where I called T-Mobile Technical Support to figure a service outage issue. The informative customer service rep tracked down the origin of problem, explained the service recovery procedures to me professionally although he clearly spoke English with an Indian accent. He was also able to provide me the sense of control and the feeling of security by providing a service solution that stated power station would be recovered within 2 days. Meanwhile, the attitude of service providers had a strong impact on customer’s perception to the service encounter.
I assessed my service encounters based on the attitude of service providers, their ability to fulfill special requests, and to execute service recovery in cases of a service failure. For example, in my customer experience with Starbucks, the barista ‘s attitude of going above and beyond expectations and her friendliness had positively influenced my perception of Starbucks, and thus increased my happiness and loyalty as customer. A Typical Service Failure and Recommendations for Potential Service Recovery Particularly, my experience encountered with Spirit Airline was a typical service failure and they should deliver a service recovery to retain customers. Ground crew announced the 2 hours flight delay mere seconds before the first customer scanned his ticket with no explanation or apology. Immediately, anger and complaints had spread across the waiting zone but the frontline employee seemed not to care about it at all. I found the ground crew’s rudeness unbearable when she said:” Don’t ask me when your flight will departure. I do not know. All you can do is Wait. “
Right at this moment, I realized Spirit Airline’s performance went way below my tolerance level and I decided to avoid any possible interaction with this company in the future, even thought it provided the lowest fare. Just like other customers, both horrific employee attitude and services had led me to a negative worth-of-mouth, resulted in complaint and decreased company’s reputation. To me, I posited that service encounter had to at least meet customer expectations. If the service providers promised more than it can actually deliver, it should immediately take action in response to previous service failure and change customer’s dissatisfaction to satisfaction, and ultimately retain the defecting customers.
Learning from my experience, I recommend the ground crew to offer alternative flight options that will meet their urgent requirement (Let customers who has interview/family immanency depart on-time to a competitor’s flight); communicating with customers who are experiencing/expecting service failures (Offer customer an explanation for reasons why the flight was delayed and ask them for feedback); and ensuring the service recovery personnel presented professionally and effectively (Provide an sincere apology for the unexpected delay and consider providing customers with tangible compensation, such as carry-on fee vouchers or snack/beverage during the flights).
Indeed, my service experience would be more pleasant if the flight attendant did not ask me to pay $3 for a cup of water or at least offered an apology for the delay. In summary, great service encounter required the service organization to create an ongoing relationship with its customers and provide values to them. Customer retention is critical to all service organizations as we discussed in class that existing customers usually generated more economic benefits in comparison with newly acquired customers. If the service encounter is defected the first time, service providers must put all efforts to recover from its service failure and strengthen its customer relationship. Meanwhile, service providers also need to understand the root cause for defection to avoid repetitive service failure. With that, I want to thank Professor Azman and all my peers for a great learning opportunity so that I was able to apply the theoretical knowledge learned from class into day-to-day practices.