Closing the Customer Gap


The gaps model says that a service marketer must first close the customer gap between customer perceptions and expectations. To do so, the provider must close the four provider gaps, or discrepancies within the organization that inhibit delivery of quality service. The gaps model focuses on strategies and processes that firms can employ to drive service excellence.

Customer perceptions are subjective assessment of actual service experiences. Customer expectations are the standards or reference points for performance against which service experiences are compared and are often formulated in terms of what a customer believes will or should happen.

The sources of customer expectations consist of marketer-controlled factor (such as pricing, advertising, and sales promises) as well as factors that the marketer has limited ability to affect (innate personal needs, word-of-mouth communications, and competitive offerings). In a perfect world, expectations and perceptions would be identical: customers would perceive that they receive what they thought they would and should. In practice these concepts are often separated by some distance. Broadly, it is the goal of service marketing to bridge this distance.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Soft Customer Standards


Not all customer priorities can be counted, timed, or observed through audits. As Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.” Understanding and knowing the customer is not a customer priority that a standard that counts, times, or observes employees can adequately capture. In contrast to hard measures, soft measures are those that must be documented using perceptual measures. We call the second category of customer-defined standards soft standards and measures because they are opinion-based measures that cannot be observed and must be collected by talking to customers, employees, or others. Soft standards provide direction, guidance, and feedback to employees in ways to achieve customer satisfaction and can be quantified by measuring customer perceptions and beliefs. These are especially important for person-to-person interactions such as the selling process and the delivery process for professional services.

Exceeding Customer Expectations


We often focus on meeting customer expectations by closing the gap between customer perceptions and expectations. There’s a difficulty in meeting expectations because of all the factors that must be coordinated to deliver on the firm’s service promises. However, an increasingly popular service maxim urges companies to “exceed customer expectations.”—to delight, excite, surprise, and otherwise amaze. According to this formulated belief, merely meeting customer expectations is not enough; a company must exceed them to retain customers. This is an appealing slogan as well as one that sets a high performance standard for employees, but it holds the potential to overpromise to both customers and employees. In attempting to exceed customer expectations, a company must understand a) what type of expectations can and should be exceeded, b) what customer group or segment is to be targeted, and c) the impact exceeding  expectations has on future expectations of customers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

360-degree Feedback


The 360-degree Feedback Process is being increasingly used in organizations for development, appraisal and compensation purposes. It involves a collection of perceptions about an individual’s behavior and its impact on bosses, colleagues, subordinates as well as internal and external customers. Competency models help to ensure that such feedback relates specifically to the competencies crucial to individual or organizational success.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Meanings of Meaning


Meanings are internal responses people hold for external stimuli. Many times people have different meanings for the same words. Good communicators are people who select verbal and nonverbal signs that they feel will elicit the intending meaning. Marketing communicators must be especially careful to use signs that will evoke the intended meaning in prospective buyers. All too often companies communicate their product offerings in terms familiar to themselves but not in terms familiar to their potential customers.

Meaning can be thought of as the set of internal responses and resulting predispositions evoked within a person when presented with a sign or stimulus object. Meaning is internal rather than external, to an individual. Meaning is psychological in that it represents a person’s subjective perception and effective reaction to stimuli.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Perception


Perception is the set of processes by which an individual becomes aware of and interprets information about the environment. A general discussion of behavioral concepts and processes might identify perception as a single process, but perception actually consists of several distinct processes. Moreover, in perceiving  we receive information in many guises, from spoken words or visual images to movements and forms. Through the perceptual processes, the receiver assimilates the varied types of incoming information for the purpose of interpreting it.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

New Product Concept


Webster’s says a concept is an idea or an abstract notion. Businesspeople use the term concept for the product promise, the customer proposition, and the real reason why people should buy. It is a stated relationship between product features (form of technology) and consumer benefits—a claim of proposed satisfactions. This promise is open to four interpretations:

  • The producer’s perception of the features of the new product.
  • The consumer’s perception of the features of the new product.
  • The producer’s estimate of the benefits delivered by that set of features.
  • The consumer’s estimate of the benefits delivered by that set of features.

These are only forecasts, guesses, at this time—not reality, even with a prototype in hand. They rest on expectations.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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