Professional & Management Professional Development Sales & Customer Service

Customer Service Excellence

Customer service matters! We all have brands or organisations that we love to keep returning to, and also those who after we receive poor customer service, vow will never see our business again!

So, what is Customer Service?

Customer service is the assistance and guidance a company or an organisation provides to people before, during and after they buy or use a product or service. There is a direct link between satisfied customers, brand loyalty and profitability. Service is the biggest driver of customer loyalty – more than pricing or even the product itself.


So how can you ensure you get it right for your customers? On our brilliant Customer Service Excellence course, we look at the Servqual RATER model which was developed in the mid-1980s but is still extremely relevant. RATER stands for Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy and Responsiveness. Let’s look at the model and see how it can assist you provide excellent customer service…

Reliability of service

This is about having the ability to perform a service dependably and accurately, this means doing what you say you’re going to do, when you said you were going to do it. Customers want to be able to count on you and your team, so find out what your customers value. Organisations first and best efforts are better spent making their service reliable.

Reliability builds trust in the brand and is valued three times more than tangibles such as a shiny new website or smart uniforms.


This is about the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust, competence, and confidence. How can you provide more assurance? Know What You’re Doing! Also, by communicating your expertise/competencies – before people do the work, which will be seen by customers. e.g. display industry certifications on badges worn by employees, include certification logos on emails, letters, reports, posters, newsletters, feedback statistics and webpages.

Servqual research showed it’s important to communicate that expertise to customers. If you’re highly skilled, but customers don’t see that, their confidence in and their assessment of you will be lower.


Even though this is the least important dimension, appearance matters. Make sure your employee’s appearance, equipment, and anything else that’s visible to your customers, looks good. The danger is for organisations to make everything look sharp, and then fall short on Reliability or Responsiveness, so don’t sacrifice these two for the tangibles as first impressions really do count.


This is about the provision of caring, individualised attention to the customer. Your service can be outstanding, but do your customers feel cared for? Would or will they recommend you? Think back to the best service you’ve had – What made it outstanding? Service can be performed completely to specifications, yet customers may not feel your employees care about them. This will affect their assessment of your service quality.

Responsiveness of service

This is the willingness to help customers and to provide a prompt service, no one likes being put on hold or pushed from one person to another, so how can you be more Responsive? By responding quickly, promptly, rapidly, immediately, instantly.

Service providers benefit by establishing internal SLAs for things like returning phone calls, emails and responding on-site, but establish them not just for emergencies, but for everyday responses too.



So, some ideas to help you provide excellent customer service – learn more with STL.

Leadership Development Professional & Management Sales & Customer Service

The Six Principles of Influence

The Six Principles of Influence

If you want to be an effective team player, leader, or manager, you need to be able to influence people. Your role title certainly won’t be enough to expect people to do as you’d like them to. You need to take other measures to get your colleagues to support your ideas. This article highlights the Six Principles of Influence.

It can be difficult to increase your influence in the workplace. This is because our colleagues are often preoccupied by their own work and the sheer overload of information in today’s world. Yet the increasing pressure on businesses to be efficient, productive, and profitable makes it more important that you have the ability to influence and get things done.

We are influencing others consciously and subconsciously all the time. When we are influencing, we are trying to make changes in behaviour, opinions, attitudes, goals, needs, or even values. There is no right way, nor is there only one way to influence others. It is important we understand a range of techniques and strategies. We should adapt our approach to the other person or group appropriately. This takes a combination of interpersonal communication, presentation, and assertiveness techniques. These are covered on our great Influencing Skills course. Let’s look at one theory you can employ:

The science of persuasion

Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” explores factors that affect the decisions that people make. They are the following and here is how you can use them to influence others:

  1. Reciprocity – You feel obliged to give when you receive. So, help others out. Once you’ve helped someone, they’ll be more likely to return the favour when you need it.
  2. Scarcity – People want more of the things there are less of. If customers believe a product will soon disappear or has a limited offer, they will want it more. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales. To use scarcity to your advantage, run a promotion for your product that is limited by time, or numbers.
  3. Authority – People follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. Reference industry leaders or your largest customers to influence your authority. If who you want to influence, see that established, successful individuals or businesses use your product or service. They may be reassured that it’s a good investment.
  4. Consistency – People like to be consistent with things they previously said or did. This means that if you can convince another to act in a minor way in relation to something, then they’ll think of themselves as that type of person and be more likely to act in that way again in the future. Introductory offers or product give-aways are an example. If you receive a free product, then you may start to identify yourself as someone who uses that product. Therefore, you will be more likely to act consistently with that identity in the future.
  5. Liking – People prefer to say yes to those they like. So, be likeable, professional, courteous, trustworthy, willing to go the extra mile and follow up on your promises.
  6. Social proof – People will look to others to determine their own actions. This is why adverts or social media “likes” from people we know will frequently influence us. You can use social proof in your sales process by referencing customer case studies. Why not share feedback from your customers?

Applying the Six Principles of Influence can help you get the results you or your organisation wants, and when you do, you’ll be more respected, appreciated and acknowledged in the workplace.