Designing the Soft Side of Customer Service

In service environments, customers have complex needs. Even in the most mundane encounters, emotions are lurking under the surface. Your job is to make those feelings positive.

When people think about innovation in customer service, they usually think in terms of technological or process enhancements that make service delivery faster or more efficient. In recent years, restaurants have introduced hand-held devices that buzz patrons when their table is ready, and supermarkets offer customers self-service checkout lines. While such innovations may simplify matters for customers, service organizations rarely stop to consider the overall psychology that shapes service encounters. Indeed, despite the plethora of articles and books about managing the customer experience, many key psychological variables that influence customer perceptions — the subtle enhancements that help define a positive experience — have yet to be defined or articulated fully.

Organizations often measure the outcomes of service encounters in concrete terms such as on-time flight arrivals or the time to resolve a customer’s call. However, the subjective outcomes — the emotions and the feelings — are more difficult to describe: Did the passenger enjoy the flight? Did the customer who called the service center with a problem hang up feeling better about the provider? Much as having a deeper understanding of systems dynamics and process analysis has pushed companies to re-engineer their operations to achieve explicit outcomes, findings from behavioral decision- making research, cognitive psychology and social psychology can point service providers to ideas for redesigning the psychological or implicit aspects of service encounters.


Service and Quality

By Sriram Dasu and Richard B. Chase

In service environments, customers have complex needs. Even in the most mundane encounters, emotions are lurking under the surface. Your job is to make those feelings positive.

When people think about innovation in customer service, they usually think in terms of technological or process enhancements that make service delivery faster or more efficient. In recent years, restaurants have introduced hand-held devices that buzz patrons when their table is ready, and supermarkets offer customers self-service checkout lines. While such innovations may simplify matters for customers, service organizations rarely stop to consider the overall psychology that shapes service encounters. Indeed, despite the plethora of articles and books about managing the customer experience, many key psychological variables that influence customer perceptions — the subtle enhancements that help define a positive experience — have yet to be defined or articulated fully.

Organizations often measure the outcomes of service encounters in concrete terms such as on-time flight arrivals or the time to resolve a customer’s call. However, the subjective outcomes — the emotions and the feelings — are more difficult to describe: Did the passenger enjoy the flight? Did the customer who called the service center with a problem hang up feeling better about the provider? Much as having a deeper understanding of systems dynamics and process analysis has pushed companies to re-engineer their operations to achieve explicit outcomes, findings from behavioral decision- making research, cognitive psychology and social psychology can point service providers to ideas for redesigning the psychological or implicit aspects of service encounters. Leer más “Designing the Soft Side of Customer Service”