|Methods and techniques|
RATER model is an evolution of SERVQUAL method presented by A. Parasuraman, V. Zeithaml and L. Berry in 1988. The main idea is based on 5 gaps, which result in lower than expected quality of services. The authors proposed that the difference between expected and perceived quality should be evaluated in 5 dimensions:
The first letters of the dimensions create RATER. This order was established later, originally dimensions were presented in following order: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy.
To each of dimensions authors assigned 4-5 pairs of sentences (total 2 x 22 sentences) which described gaps between certain aspects of services. The detailed procedure was described in article SERVQUAL.
Is the company able to deliver what it promises? The main criteria taken into account by customers are:
It is important that customer trusts employees delivering service. In case of many services, e.g. medical, it is essential. Therefore, the staff has to:
- Be competent
- Have respect for customer and other employees, partners, etc.
- Be credible
- Be confidential
- Assure safety and security
The physical representation of the company and place where the service is delivered is usually the first what the customer sees. The first sight is crucial and can decide about whole service perception. The important aspects are:
- Communication materials
In services it is necessary to care about every customer and even wider - stakeholder. In many services the customer arrives with his/her family of friends (e.g. hospital services). It is necessary to be empathetic to all stakeholders. Empathy can be shown by:
- Access to staff, services, information
- Clear, appropriate and timely communication
- Understanding the stakeholder
- Appropriate service for customer needs
- Individualized attention
The willingness to help and provide prompt service can buy the heart of the customer. The most important aspects are:
- Willingness to help
- Prompt attention to requests
- Problems resolution
- Complaint handling
Using RATER model - an example
The model was used in a hotel. In that kind of business the employees are those, who make the service special. And in hotel almost every employee has contact with customer, and for sure everyone of them has impact on quality of service.
Reliability. Every new employee attends training and receives a handbook describing procedures in the hotel. During next 3 months the new employee is under observation of manager, who helps him to improve. Then the new employee becomes full-time employee. There is also special program for employees to keep their motivation and skills on high level.
Assurance. Employees are being empowered and motivated to improve their work, as well as indicate possibilities of improving the processes. The employees have right to fail, but they have to understand causes of an error and find ways to remove the causes. Managers help employees to detect and remove the causes.
Tangibles. There are cinema, boutiques, florist shop, bar, pub, restaurants in the hotel. All of these require to meet the customer's requirements. It is necessary to invest money to update rooms and facilities. It is managers duty to determine in advance the requirements of customers and update rooms before customers spot anything wrong.
Empathy. The employees are taught to not only hear the customer, but also understand what the customer wants to say. They should apologize for any situation that is not comfortable for customer and try to find way out. Employees are trained to see the things using customer's point of view.
Responsiveness. Every managers is required to create a list of things that they consider exceptional customer service. There are some things on the list common for all, but the rest is related to departments. The managers are responsible for keeping high level of service according to their list. [Olson, Slater 2002]
- Czaplewski, A. J., Olson, E. M., & Slater, S. F. (2002). Applying the RATER model for service success. Marketing Management, 11(1), 14.
- University of Wisconsin, RATER model - service quality dimensions
- Parasuraman, A., Berry, L. L., & Zeithaml, V. A. (1991). Refinement and reassessment of the SERVQUAL scale. Journal of retailing, 67(4), 420.
- Cronin Jr, J. J., & Taylor, S. A. (1994). SERVPERF versus SERVQUAL: reconciling performance-based and perceptions-minus-expectations measurement of service quality. The Journal of Marketing, 125-131.
- Buttle, F. (1996). SERVQUAL: review, critique, research agenda. European Journal of marketing, 30(1), 8-32.
Author: Slawomir Wawak