Quality service delivery is a competitive advantage

Quality service is one of the most important competitive factors in today’s business industry. A fundamental question is how to make it excellent. However, excellent service is not a one-way street. It depends on how the customer gives the feedback to that particular service. That being said, one fact is without question; if the service quality is not sufficiently high, the service provider is likely to disappoint the customers regardless of their expectations.

The low and middle-income countries, including my country [Rwanda], as opposed to the upper middle-income economies (currently referred to as developed countries) need to focus much attention on quality services. While the upper middle-income economies are far ahead of the low and middle-income countries in terms of service delivery due to tremendous penetration of technology in every aspects of life, the latter must embark profoundly on continued or improved quality service.

The concept of service climate plays an important role in understanding how to deliver excellent service quality, as it captures what employees experience in terms of organizational practices regarding service delivery. It also influences employee motivation regarding service behavior.

If employees experience excellent service quality with the organization, they are more likely to be motivated to deliver excellent quality on the outside of the organisation. Today, findings shows that training, empowerment and rewards are the three most significant factors, which determine the level of performance and, in turn, lead to delivery of service strategy and excellent service quality.

To illustrate more, training of service employees, as one of the most important tool of equipping the employees with relevant skills, has long been identified as the most important factor behind higher service quality. For years, studies have proved that there is a strong correlation between the number of employee training hours and the degree of service quality. To make it a success, the employer should focus on more than the basic service-specific competencies. The main emphasis should rather be on training of service management and other soft skills such as social skills, attitude and language abilities. This will enhance the overall capabilities of service employees and improve the overall performance of the service system.

Second, empowerment means providing employees with enough autonomy to allow them to handle unforeseen situations and challenges and let them be more self-sufficient in their work. It, however, doesn’t imply doing away with monitoring and evaluation of the service delivery. It simply means to give them the requirements to be able to do things at a certain level of independence while bearing in mind that accountability and transparency must be envisaged.

Another thing is a rewarded for the excellent performance. The term reward should in this context be understood as a broad term referring to more than just monetary reward. Contrary to common perceptions, monetary rewards play a much smaller role in aligning performance with the service organization’s value and goals compared to non-monetary rewards. For both types of goals, it is of high importance that the goals are realistic and achievable and that the employee has been involved in the goal-setting process.

The intangible nature of services means that performance can be difficult to measure. Therefore employees must be trusted to monitor their own performance. Performance appraisals should include input from employees as well as customers and the appraisal results must be used in determining training needs.

For this to be achieved, it requires, however, to invest largely in young people’s education, health and protect and guarantee their rights. The corollary of that is the change of mindset towards better service delivery.

It is quite arguable that today’s youth are tomorrow’s innovators, creators, builders and leaders. But they need the required support to attain desirable knowledge and skills to be part and parcel of a broader transformational agenda. The precursor for improved service delivery is to have people with changed mindsets. To put it succinctly, improved service delivery must be premised on the shift of patterns of doing things and without a push-button.

For instance, Rwanda’s largest segment of the population are youth, and thus a lot more needs to be done to train and inculcate young people to contribute more meaningfully to better service delivery. Change of perspectives is the fulcrum for changing the patterns of behaviour in service delivery. Change of mindsets is not the only yardstick but a driving force behind improved services.

Though all other factors remain constant, we can never underestimate the role of information technologies to improve service quality. The integration of the information technology in virtually all services would tremendously lead to improved service quality. Harnessing information technologies is equally a fundamental tool in improved service delivery. Technologies can be used in quality control to collect customer data, monitor operations and facilitate service recoveries, among others.

Indeed, technology now is able to help provide key advantages to businesses in engendering customer loyalty by improving customer service. The goal of your business in terms of its customer interactions is to generate the loyalty. There’s no better way to do that than to offer quality products and services and to be responsive to your customers.

The writer is a law expert.