Have you heard of the RATER Model?

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By Dan Polifiore, Training Manager, Halcyon

It’s not a secret that good or bad customer service can very quickly make or break your company’s reputation.  And this has never been more prevalent than in modern times with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, where clients can leave reviews and even vent their frustrations, and potentially reach millions of people because of one. bad. experience. 

Customers are the reason for our existence

I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will anyway. Without customers there is no business. You should treat them as though they sign your paycheck, because without them there IS no paycheck!  I’m not saying that “the customer is always right” because we also need to conduct ourselves with integrity, and match to our own values and our company’s values as well.  But focusing on how you service your customers is how you will see your business flourish.

In a global market, customers generally consider similar products to be equal in terms of quality and usability – even if that isn’t the case – so the best way to set yourself apart from the competition, is by offering the best quality service. 

Repeat customers (clients) spend roughly 30% more than new customers. So if we take into account marketing, advertising, sales, and all parts of the business, it generally costs about 5 times more to acquire a new customer as opposed to retaining an existing client. 

Offering excellent customer service isn’t as challenging as you think it might be… I’ve always been a big believer that it’s always achievable with the right map, so I’m going to step you through the one I’ve always followed to get to the right spot. 

The RATER Model

The RATER Model was first discussed by Valarie Zeithaml, A. Parasuraman, and Leonard Berry in 1990 to describe steps to better service.  It has since stood the test of time because of its simplicity and accuracy. 

It is broken down into 5 key ‘pillars’ which have been shown time and again to represent the primary aspects of excellent client service that we can all relate to.  

(The following is an excerpt from this article on toolshero.com. I have added some of my own thoughts in the categories.)

1. Reliability 

Are we able to deliver the agreed-upon services consistently, accurately, and on time?  

This is all about the QUALITY of the reliability and whether the client can actually rely on it. If you are not able to deliver these services without issues, your reliability will decline, and your reputation will suffer.  You build your reputation through your actions — good, bad, or otherwise.

2. Assurance 

Are our employees able to convincingly communicate their knowledge to our clients?  Does the client trust what our employees are saying and do they feel our team can give them helpful and accurate advice? 

If the information about the product turns out to be inaccurate, both the company’s and its employees’ credibility will fade away quicker than a cheap black T-shirt on the clothesline… And this is one way you will lose a client, and a competitor will gain a new customer!

3. Tangibles 

Are the physical aspects of our business and/or service appealing?

Think, for instance, of your office, website, equipment and employees looking well-presented. If a client is selecting a health insurance plan but ends up on a website that looks unprofessional or dated, that client will probably opt for a different insurance company, and the trust starts to deteriorate quickly.  Dress for the client you want, not the client you have… 

4. Empathy 

Are our employees able to empathise well with our clients and give them individual attention? How is the relationship between our employees and our clients?

For example, if a customer has a complaint about a considerable delay at an airline, they want to feel heard by the employee. If there is not even a shred of empathy in the employee’s response, the customer will be disappointed and decide never to fly the airline again. Dealing with concerns with empathy will make those conflicts easier to resolve. Even if the client’s issue is unreasonable, understanding and respecting them enough to hear them out, and talk them through it, will go a long way to increasing and/or maintaining their trust.

5. Responsiveness 

To what extent can we offer quick service and to what extent are we willing to help clients?

In today’s digital age, quality service is paramount, and doing so in a timely manner is equally is important. We are ALL busy. Our society is tremendously demanding, and those demands on our time, are certainly not waning. But never forget: by not providing a meaningful and appropriate response in an acceptable time frame, your clients may go elsewhere. 

I encourage you, the next time you’re thinking about your company’s customer service, and how it can improve, break it down into these pillars. 

R – How Reliable is your brand? 

A – Do clients feel Assured that your team’s knowledge is the best?

T – Are the Tangibles of your business well-presented?

E – Do your employees show Empathy to all customers and clients?

R – Is your team Responsive to client needs? 

By breaking it down this way, you will be able to pinpoint areas of improvement (it’s ok, we all have them!), and with the right change strategy behind you, you’ll be reaching your goals quicker than you thought possible. 

Any questions or even if you just want to have a chat about the RATER Model, get in touch with us. We’re here to help you navigate the often treacherous waters of change.

halcyon@icomm.com.au or 1300 881 641