Undeniably, the two aspects are related and will always be interlinked. Substandard SQ will yield a negative CX while superior service quality will leave a lasting effect on the consumer’s mind and the outcome would be a positive CX. Various surveys and studies have provided empirical evidence of both qualitative and quantitative as confirmation that service quality has an impact on CX.
If the SQ is desirable or superior and the CX is negative, then something might have gone terribly wrong and needs to be addressed. The parameters of CX as an output could be misaligned with SQ as an input.
Perhaps let’s start by asking the question: What is quality? Many people will argue that quality is very relative as different users of a product or service might apply varying degrees of measure in defining quality (user based). Be that as it may, the American Society for quality simply defines quality as “the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy given needs.” Simply put, quality is about meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
In the world of banking, service quality is usually measured through multiple lenses. In this article, I will discuss the dimensions of tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. The tangibles equate to the look and feel of service points, be it a branch, a premium service suite, a point of sale machine or just an ATM. Another lense is reliability and includes downtime of the service provider’s systems: the more frequent they are inoperable, the more they impact on the service quality.
One could argue that channels such as online banking, banking apps and mobile services provided by banks also need to perform as requested by clients (within specified and reasonable limits) on point and no arguments there. The bank’s human capital is also an important piece in this puzzle. Undertakings made to clients need to be fulfilled. Incommensurable to reliability is the lense of responsiveness. Clients always have preferences and will want to use whatever mode they feel works for them to get in touch with their bank. Some fancy telephonic contact, others email and some yet will favour face to face and walk into a branch. The fact is that all these channels need to be responsive to customer needs and requests. “Dictum Meum Pactum” or My Word is My Bond. In life, an honourable person knows that his/her promise must carry the same weight as the actions henceforth. I tell my colleagues all the time, you would rather under-promise and over-deliver. Most people do the inverse. Bankers need to live by this and assurances need to be provided to clients in order to cultivate.
Trust between the client and the bank is also a vital lense in achieving service quality. I shared my views in an article I authored and published here titled “A banker for all seasons.” The article is about how banks that are actively providing solutions to help clients navigate the treacherous waters due to the ramifications of COVID-19 will become even greater banking brands when all is said and done. Sadly, banking institutions that are simply a no-show for clients and close doors on client’s faces will face a serious backlash in future with high attrition rates or customer churn.
This ushers in the lense of empathy. It is about understanding seasons that clients can go through and being able to respond with relevant and real solutions. Industry colleagues, I am certainly not advocating that we open the floodgates and relax terms and conditions. What I am saying is that we need to become more accommodative and flexible in order to become part of the solution.
All these dimensions are vital inputs in achieving SQ, which will in turn yields positive CX as an output. It is therefore immensely indispensable for banks to address quality issues as a starting point towards the improvement of overall customer service and customer experience. The service quality measurements done year-on-year without addressing the fundamental points of departure will not yield any positive results. The effort should be on building a customer-centric culture and focusing on the antecedents. The quality dimensions have to be explicitly communicated, defined, tracked and periodically measured with accurate precision and with the right tools and techniques. When service advisors fall off the mark, relevant remedial action must kick in almost immediately and establish the root causes. Similarly, reward and recognition need to be served when the right and wanted behaviours are exhibited as a way of reinforcing service excellence culture. The only way to achieve or improve customer experience is ensuring that all systems, processes, infrastructure, customer facing staff and their support are all working as a collective but each ensuring that there is a continuous improvement in terms of quality issues.
Let’s say Rest in Peace to all the amazing souls whom we lost to COVID-19 and other causes. Rest in Power, Mr Baleseng B. J. Moruisi of Stanbic Bank. God bless your soul, Big Brother. We thank you for the lessons in banking. For us in life, this is the time to unite in prayer for ourselves, our country and our leaders. Let’s marshal the resources we have to support the government of the day. We are all we have. Amen.
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