Business Cycle of Service
The business cycle of service is sequential flow which is followed by the prospective clients or customers who are the stakeholders in any business when they try to acquire services or goods from any business. This cycle may involve various members in a company including the customer care agents, the sales room agent, the technician and finally the accountant as s/he finalizes the payment. This loosely defines how the stakeholders of a business may interact with various departments within a business organization when they purchase goods and services. Thus the experience that the client gets at each level of the cycle is only a part of the whole experience, and the whole experience shall be a cumulative total of all the component experiences at each level (Wachovia, 2010).
It is good to note that a bad experience at one level of the cycle may discredit all other positive efforts that may have been put into the customer experience improvement in service delivery. In order to assess the cycles efficiency it is always prudent to have an outside look rather than an inside-out look to the business cycle (Wachovia, 2010). Thus a good cycle design should highly regard views from the business stakeholders. Additionally, it should take into account factors such as promptness in service delivery, high quality customer care, and efficient provision of after sales services.
This paper reviews the cycle of service implemented within Hi-Tek alarms-an alarm selling and installation firm that specializes in alarm security solutions. The paper shall highlight the weaknesses of the cycle of service used as well as recommend a better cycle of service for Hi-Tek alarms. The new cycle is meant to improve customer satisfaction and boost their referral levels which are currently very low due to an inefficient cycle. The solutions shall be developed based on the empirical observations made during mystery shopping, shadowing of the sales staff and interviewing of clients.
Hi-Tek Alarms Cycle of Service
Currently, Hi-Tek has a high level of customer dissatisfaction and low numbers of referrals. As a result they mainly depend on their website for marketing purposes.
1. Therefore, the first contact with the clients starts from the site where the clients are able to access the phone number of the company.
2. After obtaining the companys number the client makes a call to the company and leaves message, which is later to be retrieved by the customer care department.
3. Thereafter, the customer care department makes a call to the prospective buyer, and places an appointment, in which the prospective client will be expected to visit the companies store to review their various alarm solutions for selection.
4. Later on, the client visits Hi-Teks stores to review their products and services. Notably, clients are not well received, because there is no one on the standby to warmly welcome clients to the premise. In addition, the stores contents look cluttered and disorderly.
5. After successfully reviewing and selecting an alarm system of choice, the client is told to go home and wait for further communication on the installation process.
6. After a number of days the prospective client receives a call from the companys technician and they are able to set up a date for installation.
7. On the installation day, the technician sets up the alarm system in the clients home or business and offers a brief training for a few minutes and then leaves.
8. Observations obtained on a mystery shopping experience indicate that the clients alarm goes off three times in a week without being triggered. The customer contacts Hi-Teks customer care because he does not know what has gone wrong. Unfortunately, the client gets no response even after making several calls.
9. Finally, the client decides to seek better services from a competitor due to lack replies or response from Hi-Tek.
Definitely, such a customer may not be happy at all, and as such disgruntled customers may never come back, let alone refer their friends and family for similar services from the company.
Identified Weaknesses within Hi-Teks Cycle of Service
There are various weaknesses identified within various steps of the cycle.
Firstly, there is a shortage on means via which prospective customers can access information about the company. Since the company lacks enough referrals depending on a website simply means they can only access clients that are able to visit their online site in order to acquire their contacts.
Secondly, there is no prompt customer attendance during the reception of calls, and as a result clients have to call and leave messages that will be attended to later. This may not work well with clients that need immediate solutions via direct consultation, and as a result they may opt to call another seller that may immediately attend to their calls instead of having to wait.
Thirdly, the sales person/customer care agent invites the client to the show room for a review of the products. There is nothing wrong with this step in the cycle, but however; it may not effective in sales, because it may create an inconvenience on the side of the client. Prospective clients may lack sufficient time to physically visit the show rooms and thus fail to close any sales. Hi-Tek should consider options such as providing online product previews or sending detailed catalogues that clients can preview instead of having to visit the show room.
Notably, on arrival the clients find no proper reception and they have to wait to be attended to, and additionally; the show rooms set up and arrangement appears cluttered. This definitely gives no positive impression to the prospective clients and they may even withdraw at this point.
After reviewing various products and settling on a choice, there is another lengthy period that graces the period between the viewing time and the actual installation. The client is actually told to go home and wait for an arrangement with the technician during which the installation day appointment will be made. As a result, the client has to go home and wait for several days before he finally receives a call and sets a date for the installation day with the technician. This lengthy period of waiting may not augur well for clients that require urgent solutions or emergency installation prompted by sudden insecurity, and as a result they may change their minds and seek speedier solutions elsewhere (Wachovia, 2010).
Notably, the installing technician offers very poor sales service by simply giving a simple and brief training after installing the system. This is not sufficient to help the client understand how the system runs or what to do when it fails.
Finally, when the system goes off three times in a week without any human trigger, the client calls the company and gets no replies for days, during which the system can be regarded as being dysfunctional. This is a clear indication of very poor after sales service provision.
Recommended Improvements on Hi-Teks Cycle of Service
The first step towards bettering the cycle should involve attracting many customers into the initial step of the cycle, through making the companys information available to many prospective buyers. In this pursuit the company may employ various advertisement channels such as the internet (already solely in use), radio, television, magazines, posters, flyers and e-mail-just to mention but a few. These marketing tools can attract a large number of prospective clients that will get into the initial step of the cycle. The subsequent steps should work towards bettering services and eliminating dissatisfaction so that by the end of the cycle the satisfied customers can contribute to the first cycle by making more referrals to the company.
The second step should be the improvement of service delivery with regard to prompt customer service. A customer service unit should be on stand by to promptly attend to customers calls without delay, so that customers do not have to leave messages and wait for response-a potential source of anxiety (Rai, 2008).
Thirdly, the clients should be provided with catalogues through mails and online product lists that can enable them view the products without having to go to the show room physically. This saves their time and improves convenience.
The arrival of clients should be well attended to by a stand by receptionist or customer care unit that will guide the prospective clients through the show room if they opt to physically come and review the products. Additionally, the rooms should be well arranged and neat so as to give the clients a positive impression.
After the selection of the alarm systems the technicians should schedule quick installation-if possible same day installation-to avoid making clients impatient as they wait for their installation. This could be made possible through employment of many technicians of if this proves expensive the company may opt to outsource the installation process to companies that specialize in installation services. Additionally, a sufficient training as an after sales service should be offered to the client so as to get him/her fully familiarized with the system. This may be enhanced through offering CDs and manuals with tutorials on how the system works if there is no sufficient time to personally train the client.
Finally, a good and efficient after sales service department has to be set aside to look into the functionality of newly established systems as well as the complaints from customers, so that they do not have to wait for too long-which may actually lead them to seek services from another company (Wachovia, 2010).
A Recommended Cycle of Service for Hi-Tek Alarms
1. Establishment of easy access to information on the company to create convenience-through various marketing options such as the internet, radio, and television as well as referrals.
2. Taking up of customers inquiries in a prompt manner and offering immediate and elaborate consultation on services and products.
3. The second step should immediately be followed by supplying the client with detailed information on the products available through sending the prospective clients catalogues through their e-mails or post box numbers.
4. Booking appointments where the technicians can visit the prospective clients with a sample of their systems and catalogues at the convenience of their homes to explain to them and help them choose the products of their preference. Those that may wish to visit the show room should be well received.
5. After making decisions on products installation should even be immediate for technicians that visit clients in the field. Alternatively, independent installing firms could be offered tenders to make installations immediately at request, to reduce expenses of hiring many technicians.
6. According to Rai (2008), clients should be offered sufficient training on systems and this should be supplemented by manuals and CDs with comprehensive tutorials on the systems.
7. This should be followed by regular visits from the after sales department to ascertain the functionality of the systems. Additionally, the department should establish a team that will promptly respond to complaints from clients.
The cycle of service should be perfect in every section in order to enhance quality service delivery at all stages because all of these are mutually dependant on the performance of each section. As such failure at one point may negatively bear on another (Rai, 2008).
Rai, K. A. (2008),. Customer Relationship Management: Concepts and cases, PHI Learning Pvt. Limited.
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