The five grades on your invisible report card

The hard part in obtaining favourable judgements is making sure clients and others perceive all you have done for them – in other words, getting credit for what you have done.

There are five principal dimensions to service quality:

Reliability: is the ability to provide the promised service dependably and accurately. It includes timeliness and the person’s perception of your competence. People judge you on how dependable you are. Reliability means performing the service correctly the first time.

Assurance: is the client’s feeling that her or his situation is in good hands. It involves the knowledge and courtesy of your personnel, and their ability to convey trust and confidence.

Assurance also involves credibility, which includes trustworthiness, believability, and honesty. It means having the client’s best interests at heart and demonstrating care and concern. Assurance is the reason for the old saying, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’

Tangibles: include the physical evidence of your service, your facilities and equipment, and the appearance of your personnel.Tangibles include correspondence, newsletters, brochures, and other tangible products that the client receives from you. They also include the neatness of reports and financial statements, and the appearance of tax returns.

Responsiveness: is your willingness to help people and provide prompt service. Responsiveness, like reliability, also involves timeliness of service. Accessibility is also part of responsiveness, as are approachability and how easy you are to reach.

Empathy: means that you provide caring, individualised attention to clients. It goes beyond mere courtesy, although courtesy is as important part of empathy as it is of assurance. It requires commitment to the client and involves understanding the client and knowing his or her personal needs and specific requirements.

Courtesy involves politeness, respect, consideration for the client’s property, and consideration of the client’s time, as well as friendliness of contact personnel (including receptionists and telephone operators).

To get a high rating on your scorecard, you need to think about how you can demonstrate your capabilities in these areas in ways that people can perceive clearly.

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