Adrian Peter Tse
Jan 23, 2015

'Fast feedback' key to lifting service culture: Research

HONG KONG - Research by the Hong Kong Association for Customer Excellence (HKACE) and Ipsos analyses key trends in service appreciation and provides insights into how service and marketing departments can build stronger service brands and customer experiences.

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The findings, released yesterday, come from a survey of more than 1,400 customers, employers and employees across key service industries and brands in Hong Kong. In its third year, the report includes employer and employee perspectives on service appreciation.

The research suggests that feedback from employers and customers, whether positive or negative, needs to be delivered more “quickly and frequently” to have a positive effect on employee performance and engagement. “Slow and infrequent” feedback has the opposite affect—a negative impact on the employee, organisation and customer.

Simon Tye, executive director at Ipsos said that timely and frequent feedback gives service employees an “immediate and regular lift”. “The results of the study suggest that the service standard in Hong Kong has improved and remains quite high across the board,” Tye said. “However, there’s always room for improving service standards, especially beyond functional service and in the softer elements of service that deal with empathy.”

JB Aloy, senior vice president, added that “customer feedback” needs to be tied to employee appraisal systems that allow employers to recognise their staff members' performance. In terms of rewarding good service, 80 per cent of employees would like financial incentives for positive performance, while 70 per cent would like opportunities for promotion as a result.

According to the study, 83 per cent of Hong Kong consumers say they experienced positive customer service in 2014, similar to 82 per cent in 2014. Cally Chan, vice chairman at HKACE, stressed the importance of social-media monitoring and the collaboration between marketing and service departments to quickly resolve customer issues or to show appreciation. “This is the area of greatest challenge for the service industry in Hong Kong,” said Chan. “Online-to-offline is something brands can improve on in 2015, and it’s where opportunities are being missed.”

A major part of the study also looked at the service demands and behaviours of different generations in Hong Kong in relation to positive and negative experiences. The study indicates that those below 25 years of age want to encourage the promotion of service culture but are also the most likely to complain about bad service on social media. On the other end of the spectrum, those above 45 years are the most satisfied customers and are likely to share feedback on the service they receive among family and friends.   

James Tong, chairman at HKACE, said that young generations and the use of social media should be a focus for service-industry brands, as these age groups will be the major consumer group in the future. “This is the trend and the times we are moving into,” said Tong. “Brands need to prepare because social-media activity will be the norm as the 20s generation play a dominant role in service culture.”

Ultimately the study suggests that promoting a successful service culture requires a collaboration effort among customers, employees and employers. 

 

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