The View From Taft

“Drip… drip… drip…” that’s the sound I heard in the middle of the night from the aircon in my bedroom. I got out of bed and rushed for pails! I was annoyed because the aircon was just cleaned a month ago. I called the company the next day to send someone to fix it. It took at least four days for someone to come. Two technicians arrived. They told me that they were the ones who cleaned the aircon a month ago. The older one was the lead man — he said that he was new in the company, but he was proud to say he had years of experience. I was surprised to learn that the younger man was an on-the-job-training employee! I am a loyal customer of their company. But I could not believe that they sent company neophytes!

When the work was done, I signed and wrote a note on the service report. I said, “It is true, right? It is a back job!”

Two hours after they left, it was irritating to hear the “drip… drip… drip…” from the aircon once again. I was disappointed as I ran to get the pails again.

A technical assessment group arrived two days later. To cut the story short, their findings were “For general cleaning. Plus, replacement of damaged window-type aircon cover.” The damage resulted from the aircon service cleaning. The technical group left and the pails were still below the aircon. Furniture was displaced in the rooms.

The company’s killer tagline is “SMILE…!” The service provider’s slogan conveys the assurances that I will smile when they provide me a service. So, what does “smile” mean? According to neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg, a smile denotes emotions that are highly positive. While it is momentary, a smile demonstrates a person’s reaction to a satisfactory service experience. When customers are pleased, they are happy. Thus, they smile. Unfortunately, the service provider failed to deliver what they promised. The smile was rubbed out because the technicians were not reliable. The newly hired was entrusted to deliver work that he did not know. A newly hired employee who is unfamiliar with the work should not be given the responsibility to train a subordinate unless he went through sufficient training himself and was evaluated to perform a job the “company” way.

They conveyed one message, “the customer is not important.” Thus, they just killed their tagline, “SMILE…!”

Actually, it is not so difficult to keep a customer smiling if a company focuses on pleasing its customers. Customers aspire to having a satisfying experience with a service. Service providers should bear in mind that their customers remember their experiences. Any direct or indirect contact with the service provider is a touch point in multiple phases of their customers’ experience. Every touch point relates to the Moment of Truth as it is when a customer interacts with the service being provided. Thus, providing quality customer care and service in all touch points is important.

Achieving service quality. Customers match the service provided to them with their expectations. Parasuraman and his colleagues mentioned five ways that customers measure the quality of a service. They include:

• Tangibles which pertain to the physical component or objects used in the service. The worker’s appearance is considered a tangible. For example, a worker who needs to repair the aircon in a bedroom wearing muddy shoes can upset a customer.

• Empathy is the attention to given to customers. Empathy is the ability of service providers to put themselves in the shoes of their customers. By reassuring a customer that the problem will be resolved, they build customer rapport.

• Reliability is when service providers perform their promised service accurately. This includes the timely service and the accuracy of records about the provided service. The customer should be able to depend on the work that was performed.

• Responsiveness involves providing timely service to the customer. For instance, complaints should be responded to no later than 24-hours.

• Assurances encompass the required knowledge of service providers. For example, returning to do a job again does not demonstrate the expertise of the service provider. Service providers should be competent when it comes to the work that they do to inspire trust and confidence.

The higher the service quality, the higher the perceived value which drives above-expectation customer satisfaction. Customers become dissatisfied when the provided service is below their expectation.

Giving attention to all the touch points in the service journey requires coordination in the entire business. An organization should encourage a culture that is customer-centric to embrace excellent customer service goals. As the killer tagline says, “SMILE…,” the organization should totally strive to keep customers smiling. In this way, the killer tagline is kept ALIVE!


Ana LiSa “Pinky” Asis-Castro, DBA, REALTOR teaches in the MBA program of De La Salle University.