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Defining Service

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Defining Service

Defining Service is an in-depth analysis of Customer Service
© 1997 Claire Belilos
CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services 

Terms: For reading only. Not to be sold, reprinted,re-written, distributed, re-broadcast,
uploaded, or used to conduct training by others without written agreement

Before we go to the outside world to advertise our product and service, we should do some introspection and decide exactly what it is we have to offer. Today, there is much stress on quality service ... but what
exactly do we mean by "service"?

The term service evokes different interpretations and connotations, depending on the user - Is it the way a company or a clerk answers your questions? - Is it the way the product is delivered? Is it the way a company stands by its guarantees and warranties? Is it the way a complaint is registered and resolved? Is it the way the product can be used? Is it the behaviour and attitude of the employees? What exactly is service? Before we promise to the customer something that is subject to so many interpretations, maybe we should clarify this term to ourselves.

We can begin by sub-dividing the service concept into four main categories:

  • The product itself
  • The quality and service attributes that back the product
  • The employee as a product
  • The intangible service.

In order to win and maintain customers, we must know exactly what we are selling and what we can promise. We cannot materialize our market positioning without thoroughly analyzing and preparing our specific class of product and service. We should not make promises unless we are well organized to realize them. Today's customer is a more discerning and demanding customer : What we offer the customer is what the customer expects.

    The customer expects the product to:

      check01c.gif answer customer needs
      check01c.gif be priced reasonably
      check01c.gif have an aesthetic/attractive appearance

    The product should be backed by the following quality and service attributes. The customer expects the product to be:

      check01c.gif available
      check01c.gif durable/fresh
      check01c.gif easy to use
      check01c.gif easy to locate
      check01c.gif safe
      check01c.gif accompanied by clear operating instructions/clear explanations
      check01c.gif subject to an uncomplicated refund policy
      check01c.gif offer good value (
      value as being the quality of the product and the service in relation to the price paid)

      and carry:

      check01c.gif additional gimmicks and bonuses
      check01c.gif guarantees and warrantees.

    Customers regard employees as our product, from whom they expect the following qualifications:

    • broad general knowledge
    • know-how
    • people skills
    • technical skills
    • competition awareness
    • positive attitude
    • involvement
    • motivation
    • loyalty
    • team-spirit
    • initiative
    • ingenuity
    • punctuality
    • sense of responsibility
    • professional presentation
    • cultured language
    • sense of ethics
    • salesmanship.

    The intangible service is as important to the customer as the product itself. It is experienced the moment it is delivered - before, during, or after a sale. It cannot be recalled. It is the most difficult to define, but for practical purposes we can categorize it as follows:

      check01c.gif attention to the customer
      a check mark courtesy
      check01c.gif an atmosphere of hospitality
      check01c.gif employee's knowledge of the product
      check01c.gif helpfulness / assistance to customers
      check01c.gif an interest in customers' opinions and feedback
      check01c.gif complaints resolution
      check01c.gif company policies that work
      for customers and not against them
      check01c.gif order and cleanliness   

Copyright © 1997 - Claire Belilos
CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services
#2007-1011 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6E 1T8, Canada
Tel: (604) 685-8449/ 687-8442 PST

This article is not to be uploaded, sold or distributed in any form or manner without the author's written permission

If you need to set up an effective Customer Service Training environment in your organization, contact Claire 

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Claire Belilos, CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services, Home Page:, specializes in Hospitality, human resources strategies, organizational training and development, Customer Service and problem-solving. She offers "on site", online and distance consulting and coaching.  She creates job, training and evaluation tools, and custom-tailored solutions to people management problems.  List yourself to be advised of the new location of our Customer Service Viewpoints forum at

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While you are here you may enjoy reading the famous speech of Mr. James Lavenson, previous President and Chief Executive Officer of the famous Plaza Hotel in New York City, in which he demonstrates how creative management and a comprehensive approach, major parts of which are employee training and internal communications, can achieve (even exceed) marketing goals while creating a team of motivated employees and happy Customers.

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