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Customer service operations and excellence (Maxis Bhd)
Maxis Bhd is considered as the largest telecommunication product and services provider in Malaysia with its business involvement also could be found in other countries such as India and Indonesia. The products and services range from mobile service, mobile Internet, home ADSL Internet, pay TV and other residential and business telecommunication related products and services. In term of the company vision and values, the company has defined itself as about life enablement with the core values of “simple”, “trustworthy”, “creative” and “brave” (maxis.com.my 2011). In 2006, Maxis topped the Malaysia’s most admired company within a survey published in the Wall Street Journal Asia (maxis.com.my 2006). With these descriptions we can assume that the telecommunication giant in Malaysia has focused very much on the quality of the customer service to remain itself as a reputable firm. Below we will discuss their main department strategies and also the service quality using the Gaps Model of Service Quality
2. Case analysis
2.1 Main department strategies
In term of the human resource management (HRM) strategies, the company has used the “Best fit” and “best practice” to ensure that there is a high consistency between the strategic objectives made by the top management and the human resource goals and the “best practice” is used to make sure employees could perform what is required of them. And in term of product strategy in the marketing mix, the company has targeted at providing stable, valuable and convenient products to the customers and hence in term of the pricing strategy the company has price the product competitively that brings customer substantial benefits.
2.2 Measuring the service quality using the Gaps Model of Service Quality
The Gap Model was a conceptual model proposed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1985) in the Journal of marketing, based on a number of exploratory researches such as face to face interview with the managers and executives. It is about measuring the quality of a specific service using the existing gaps. The model pointed out five organizational gaps in the process of service design and delivery which contributes to the lack of service quality that further results in customer dissatisfaction (Salvendy 2001, p. 640).
Figure 1. The 7-Service Quality GAPS Model
Source: scribd.com 2011
2.2.1 Gap 1 The gap between the company perception of customer expectations
As customers tend to have recent shopping experiences or influenced other other people’s purchasing behaviors and also the social media, customer expectations refer to all previous product or service purchase and usage experiences (Grigoroudis & Siskos 2010, p. 47). Stable service provided by Maxis to customers is known to the public, and this good image posts higher customer expectations to the company to improve their service while at the same time avoid accidents and service disruptions. In my understanding, this means that the customer expectation actually like a coin has two sides: advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, the offering of high quality service will meet and exceed the customer satisfaction, and this create value to the company as well as to the customers; but on the other hand with the increase of the customer expectations, it will in return result in demand for higher service and product quality. Gap 1 is a large gaps that includes other gaps which will be discussed later. The fact that Maxis earns a good reputation among wide customer base reflects that the company’s perception of what the customer expect is closed to the customer’s expectations.
2.2.2 Gap 2 The Gap between the company perception of the customer expectations and the customer driven service design & standards
In a competitive industry like the Malaysia’s telecommunication market in which Maxis Bhd operates, the service design is not only about design the service in term of the basic infrastructure and content but it also contains the ideas of service utility and service warranty (Hurwitz, Bloor, Kaufman & Halper 2009, p. 51). In the case of Maxis which focuses in the telecommunication services, though many service products are highly standardized, there are two major kinds of service designs that the company is focusing. The first service design is the design of term and conditions. The design of the company’s own term and conditions regarding the specific product helps to manage the customer expectations and hence minimize the gap between the company perception of the customer expectations and the customer driven service design & standards. For example, Maxis provides a 12 month contract term of its major mobile price plans which gives great convenience to those who hold a short term visa in Malaysia; another service design is the design of the value added services. The design of the value added services provide room for the telecommunication service operators including Maxis to diversify their products and services. And also Maxis has done a good job in diversifying and design their own value added services to the customers.
2.2.3 Gap 4 The gap between the external communications to customers and the actual delivery of the service
Service Delivery refers to the many and different organizational forms and delivery methods that business companies use to achieve their objectives (Secretariat 2003, p. 62). It is said that organizations are increasingly dependent on electronic delivery of services to meet customer needs (Harvey 2005). And Maxis has been working on convenient delivery of services to meet customer needs. For example, the company has long promoting the E-billing service by using which customers will be able to replace the traditional monthly paper bill with an electronic bill that will be sent directly to the given E-mail address. By using the fast and convenient electronic methods to deliver the service, Maxis has managed to reduce the gap between the external communications to customers and the actual delivery of the service.
2.2.4 Gap 5 The gap between the expected service and the perceived service
We had talked about the expected service which depends on customers’ past buying experience and also the other influential factors that affect customers’ anticipation of the service to be received, the perceived service refer to how the service is delivered to the customers. There are a number of factors that could have significant impacts over the actual delivery of the services that add on or reduce the value perceived by the customers. These factors could include performance of the sale force, performance of the customer service agents in the call centers who answer customers’ calls and also the maturity and readiness of the customers. For example, though the service products are good in quality and well designed, there could be possibility that the customers could be frustrated if they do not truly understand how to use the services. This requires companies to do more than the provision of the products and services to provide assistance while handing out the services to the customers.
In Maxis, the company does two things to narrow up the The gap between the expected service and the perceived service. On one hand, the company invests greatly in its sale force in term of recruitment, training, coaching and retention effort in order build up a relatively more stable and quality sale team who will promote and deliver services face to face with the customers. They are educated to provide considerate assistance to the customers with patience. On the other hand, the company also focuses on standardizing the contact customer service center procedures to make sure that every customer service agent will use the highly similar and standard customer service to the customers who call in the hot line. Standardization of the contact customer service center procedures will avoid significant service quality fluctuations because standardization will help control the individual differences at work.
2.2.5 Gap 7 The gap between the company perceptions of customer expectations and employee perceptions of customer expectations
The seventh gap in the 7-Service Quality GAPS Model is the gap between the company perceptions of customer expectations and employee perceptions of customer expectations which is not directly involved with the customers though all conclusions made from the model analysis are to better serve the customers. In many cases, misleading could happen suggesting the gap 7. Because the customers are not directly involved, employees’ perception of what the customers desire could in many cases stems from the documents and materials given by the company after the customer research. In this point, the differences and gaps could be enlarged resulting in a bigger gap 7 than gap 1. In Maxis, one of the solutions to deal with the Gap 7 is to amplify the internal materials available to the employees.
From the discussion that we have above using a 7-Service Quality GAPS Model regarding the measurement of the effectiveness of the customer service operations in Maxis Bhd, we can see that in the mentioned five gaps out of the 7 gaps of the model, Maxis as a telecommunication service product provider, has been performing well in maintaining a quality high customer service that could be perceived by the customers by narrowing up some of the gaps excellently such as the gap between the expected service and the perceived service. As we can see from the above analysis, Maxis has used three major techniques to eliminating the gaps and enhance the customer experience. The first technique used by Maxis is the standardization in the customer service processes, the second technique is enhanced communication and the last technique is through continual learning and training among the employees.
4.1 Providing stability in service quality and service excellence
As mentioned above, the offering of high quality service not only will create value to the company as well as to the customers but also will increase the customer expectations which will in return result in demand for higher service and product quality, and if the company can not meet the enhance demand, the customers will be dissatisfied. In this point, one strong recommendation given to Maxis is to make sure that the service quality and service excellence should be delivered in stable and consistent way. For example, the offering of 30 days in a month stable but medium quality Internet service will be much better than 27 days high quality and 3 days unstable Internet connections because it will lead to inconsistent service quality which further causes customer dissatisfaction.
4.2 Coach relative staff towards service excellence
Another recommendation is to build up a coach model in the company to provide coaching service to the employees who will need to make decisions with impacts on the perceived customer experience. Hopefully a well built coaching system will help transfer the professional skills and knowledge through refined and super-effective coaching capabilities by the management. And by the promotion of the best practice, it is expected that the company will be able enhance the customer service operations and excellence in all levels.
Grigoroudis, E. & Siskos, Y. 2010, Customer Satisfaction Evaluation: Methods for Measuring and Implementing Service Quality. New York: Springer. p. 47
Harvey, J. 2005. Managing service delivery processes: linking strategy to operations. Miwaukee, Wisconsin: Quality Press.
Hurwitz, J., Bloor, R., Kaufman, M. & Halper, F. 2009, Service Management for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc. p. 51
Maxis.com.my 2011. Maxis is about life enablement. viewed on 20 Nov 2011 [online]: http://www.maxis.com.my/personal/about_us/profile/vision.asp
Maxis.com.my 2006. Maxis tops Malaysia’s most admired companies list. viewed on 20 Nov 2011 [online]: http://www.maxis.com.my/personal/about_us/mostadmired/index.asp
Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A. and Berry, L. L. (1985), A conceptual model of service quality and its implications for further research, Journal of marketing, Vol. 49, Fall, pp. 41 – 50
Secretariat, C. 2004, Commonwealth Public Administration Reform 2004. Norwich NR: The stationery office limited. p. 62
Salvendy, G. 2001, Handbook of industrial engineering: technology and operations management. third edition, Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 640
Scribd.com 2011. The 7-Service Quality GAPS Model. viewed on 20 Nov 2011 [online]: http://www.scribd.com/doc/46918710/7-Gaps-Model