On what grounds are customers selecting coaching- or wellbeing services? There is often public information available, advertisement material, blog texts, service description and so on.
On top of this, friends might have told about their experiences and recommendations about the service. The reputation and credibility of the personnel providing the service is also influencing the expectations of the customers. Exactly for above mentioned reasons the expectations tend to vary significantly.
Let’s next look the things from a service provider point of view. How does the service provider know what kind of service he or she should provide?
Often the service provider has a long experience and knowledge on what are the customer needs and what kind of services they are demanding. This is a good starting point, but is this kind of approach based on experience adequate?
Could we find out the expectations of the Customers?
One way to improve the quality of the service, is to prepare a questionary in the beginning of the program where the situation and needs of the customer are found out. Using this method one can tailor the program according the findings. However, the expectations of the customers can vary even if they are executing the same program.
Best way to get rid of guessing, is simply to ask the expectations from the customer. Here we however encounter another problem, what and how to ask? Questions we use in finding out the expectations should not be too specific nor too generic. Let’s think about the dilemma.
We can narrow down the questions to cover remote coaching. We can ask about the quality and quantity of the feedback, is there enough interaction, does the coach give support and encouragement and the quality of material and instructions.
One has to formulate the questions properly, so that the expectations can be found out. An example: “ I want to get regular feedback from the coach” or “I want to get weekly feedback from the coach”
The formulation of the questions depend on many things (contents of the program, duration of the program, number of coaches etc.), but with a small effort questions can be found out.
Questions should, however, be such that we can use them in all similar programs. This enables us to compare different programs and develop them based on feedback.
If the expectations are asked already at the start of the program, answers can be analysed immediately and if needed, program and interaction can be adjusted accordingly. For example, if we find out that there is a group of customers that require a lot of feedback, we know it and we can give them more feedback than the rest of the group.
Now we have clarified how knowing the expectations can improve the quality of the implementation of the program. At the end of program we are essentially using the same questions, but formulated so that we are asking the perception of the customer. An example for this kind of expectation-perception question pair: “ I am expecting to get lot of feedback” – “I got lots of feedback”.
Combining answers to these questions we find out whether customer expectations were met or even exceeded. We can call this as ‘subjective quality perceived by the customer’. From the answers we can calculate the needed indicators (average, median,…) and even investigate the distribution of the answers.
The moral of this story is, that the expectations of the customers should be found out. It opens up a totally new scenery, when discussing about the service quality. It also enables the continuous development of the service. We can compare this approach to the question by Dilbert: “Customer evaluated our quality to be 3.7. Do we have quality or not?”
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