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Measuring Your Service and Why it is Important and The Consumer’s Spending Plans

Part of my preparation in writing a column is to try to see that the topics are relevant to today’s industry needs, be it marketing, planning, operations, economics or, as in this instance, service. I also seek out sources that will lend credibility to the topic under discussion. I recently came across an article written by Shep Hyken, a consultant who helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees. The article is entitled “The Five Levels of Service.” I have taken excerpts from it.

Hyken recently compared and rated a number of companies on their level of service, using a scale of 1-5, and he then assigned a descriptive name to each.
1. Unacceptable—This is bad service at any level. Call it poor, terrible, less than stellar. Bottom line, it is unacceptable for any reason.
2. Basic—Commodity and minimum standards.
3. Good—Your customers identify your service as “satisfactory.”
4. World Class—This is a big jump from good. It is beyond satisfactory. Customers think of your company as great. You create value. Customers compare you with others in the industry.
5. Trademark—Others are compared to you. You are the industry benchmark for great service.

He then suggested to his readers that they do a self-assessment using the following questions.

1. What level of service do you and you restaurant provide for your customers ?
2. How would you describe your service based on the above descriptive level of service?
3. What restaurants in your area could be assigned to each level of these levels of service?
4. What companies outside your industry could you assign to each of these levels of service?
5 What do the companies who have “World Class” and “Trademark Service” (both inside and outside your industry) do that you would like to emulate?
6. If you are not already at the “Trademark” level—and very few companies are—what would it take to get you a step closer or even all the way there ?

These questions could make for some great discussion. Recognize that service is a process. It is ongoing. You and your restaurant should always be striving to improve, even if you are already at the “Trademark” level. While some people have taken service to a scientific level with measurements, testing, etc., the basics are common sense. It is about people taking care of people and thinking about how to do it.

Is service more important than food? Well, one in five Americans actually say they value good service over good food, according to survey of 13,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers conducted by Empathica, a customer-experience management programs provider for restaurants, banks and retailers.

However, 55% of Americans think that restaurant service is getting worse (32% do not think that service is deteriorating and 13% aren’t sure). Furthermore, one in four Americans says they would tell others not to go to a restaurant where they had received poor service (as well as never going there again themselves).

In addition to measuring how consumers felt about service, the survey also probed spending habits and attitudes which were weighted to reflect the latest U.S. and Canadian census distributions, including region, gender and income. The survey showed that there were significant differences between men and women:

One in five women indicated that they “never” eat at restaurants, versus just one in ten men. Also 48% of women –compared to 40% of men – said that a coupon would be the best way to motivate them to try a new restaurant.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said they are eating at home more often now than in the past. Furthermore, when asked how many times per week they eat at restaurants, 41% of the respondents said just once a week and 18% said not at all.

Now for the good news: 68% said they are just as loyal to their favorite restaurant now as in the past. And 15% said their loyalty had increased.

Empathica’s main recommendation to restaurant operators based on the study: Understand your top promoters and worst detractors in order to create a better customer. Although they are dining out less frequently and spending less, Americans expect unprecedented levels of service, and this is a factor in maintaining their brand loyalty.

I want to thank Media Post News and Karlene Lukovitz and their Marketing Daily report for the statistical information in this column.


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