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Performance Management in a Service Environment - What Is Your Real Goal?

There are many ways to evaluate the quality of a product, for example: count how many you have sold, count how many return, add the complaints and calculate a quality percentage.
It is also possible to evaluate the production process with similar indicators.
This is what performance management is all about.
The quality of a service cannot be measured in the same way.
The reason for this is that you cannot count a service.
You offer a service for example by being present (availability) or by attending someone.
Quality in that case can only be perceived and will be judge subjectively.
It is however possible to introduce performance management in a service environment.
You will notice this when calling your service provider, at the end of the call they will ask you: "please hold on, we like to ask you whether we handled this call in the right way.
" It is the last line in the script of the call center agent.
It seems like a strong feature because you offer clients a vote on your service.
In practice however you will be serviced by a call center agent who cannot help that the service is down but who will tell you this in a friendly way.
Now how do you rate the service? By the fact that it is down, or that you have had a warm conversation with an agent? As a first reaction you might respond positively to such an evaluation.
You think that the service provider really cares, so when you got attended fairly and friendly you press "1" - indicating that you have been serviced well.
But this covers only the call center agent part.
Most service providers are more and more dependent on (technical) infrastructure and clients will call the help desk only when there is a problem.
Although you got attended well, the service is still down.
That is where the performance management system will not match with what you need in a service environment.
When using such a system you will signal to clients that the service depends on the agent answering the phone, whereas the service offering is a much more complex team approach and not measurable by an individual member in the team.
This will lead to a bias in what you think you measure, and what the client really perceives.
In my experience as a user of services I hardly get told that there is a problem with the service.
If there is a problem - and I call only after I'm really sure that there is - I never get told, "yes sir, You a re right we have a problem.
" Instead they start with the normal script as ever.
Have you restarted you PC, Router, etc, etc.
I think many users will rate a service on this kind of honesty (yes we have a problem, but we try to improve this) rather than the introduction of a system that you will have to use, but not asked for.
You only want things to work, and as a client you know (most of the time) when it does and when it does not.
The introduction of any system will have to serve a goal.
In this case, when implementing performance management, you should ask what the real goal is: impressing the client or really to measure how well your service is doing.
In the last case you do not have to involve the client.
In most case, performance management in a service environment can best be implemented without the client knowing it.
© 2007 Hans Bool

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