All of us have “customers” of one sort or another. Whether we are working on a B2B or B2C basis, with internal or external customers, customer service skills make a huge difference at how successful you are at working with customers. Understanding what customers expect is a must. In a general sense, customers expect a positive customer experience, to feel like they matter (as your customer), and a resolution to their problem or query. Of course, individual expectations differ from one customer to the next. However, all individual customer expectations fall within the same five categories, as explained in this post.
The RATER model
We often (almost always) use the RATER model in our customer service training solutions. The model was developed by Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and Berry (1990 – Delivering Quality Service; Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations). Based on the SERVQUAL model, RATER defines five categories that customers value when assessing service quality.
- Do you do what you say you will do?
- Do you perform consistently and in a timely and accurate fashion?
- Do you inspire trust and confidence, making your customers feel safe in your hands?
- Do your customers know that they have come to the right place?
- Do you display expert knowledge?
- Are you able to explain internal processes, or how you will deal with your customer’s needs?
- Do you show your customer that you understand their needs and situation?
- Do you treat the customer like an individual?
- Do you provide timely customer service?
- Do you convey a willingness to help?
The uses of the RATER model
This model is not intended to make you say “yes, I perform consistently and in a timely and accurate fashion when I work with customers.” A better question would be, is that what ALL my customers would say about my service? The RATER model is a key part of customer satisfaction. Based on a series of personal impressions of your service, ff a customer’s expectations weren’t met, it will be related to one or more of the categories of the RATER model. (I have asked people in the training room, “is that what all your customers would say?” The answer is never yes and I think that would be impossible anyway.)
Other questions to ask:
- How do I know I’m doing it well enough?
- What are the opportunities for improvement?
- What do my customers want more of?
Our experience with the RATER model
The model 30 years on is still relevant. Customer expectations are still the same, in many ways. Our clients are convinced that it should be used in customer service skills training, once they become aware of it. Even the most experienced participants will find it a useful framework – as I hope you will too.
If you would like to know more about our experience of working with global companies on developing their customer service communication, feel free to contact us.
Customer service training solutions
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