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The Importance of Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, and Responsiveness (The RATER Model).

In recent years, there’s been increased attention on the importance of a best-in-class Customer Experience (CX). According to Zandesk’s 2022 CX Trends Report, 61% of respondents would switch to a competitor after just one bad interaction or experience with a company. Yet, many leadership teams and managers struggle to assess the value and success of their customer service. Luckily, with the help of a few key metrics, employers can create actionable plans to improve the quality of their CX.

The RATER model is a framework that measures customer expectations and provides employers with an effective way to use customer feedback (the Voice of the Customer) to improve their CX. The RATER model highlights five (5) dimensions that customers take into consideration when using a service: Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, and Responsiveness.

  • Reliability: This dimension measures the company’s execution of an agreed upon service on time, regularly, and accurately. If your business is struggling with reliability concerns, it means that you are failing to deliver your service as promised, or that your customers do not understand what your service is. For this reason, your services must be communicated clearly and must be in alignment with customer needs. If the appropriate expectations are not set, your business will be considered unreliable.

  • Assurance: This dimension measures the knowledge and courtesy of staff members and their ability to convey trust and confidence. This dimension includes answering customer questions and concerns in an efficient, effective, and professional manner. Giving your customers reasons to trust you, and backing up those reasons with reliable (see above) service, is critical for instilling customer confidence in your business.

  • Tangibles: This dimension refers to the physical aspects of the service, including the appearance of the physical environment, equipment, and communications materials. These factors are crucial to ensuring that your business is presenting itself professionally and appeals to your customers. While your customers may not always directly notice tangibles, they do impact your service. For instance, if your company website is poorly designed, or your office seems mismanaged, your CX will suffer. In another example, if your office décor is too high end, it may result in customers believing that you overcharge.

  • Empathy: Empathy measures the personalized service and caring attitude demonstrated to customers (and other stakeholders). This dimension measures how much customer concerns/problems are understood and acknowledged. It measures whether an apology, assistance, or corrective action is warranted, while assuring the customer that you are working toward a solution. One method of demonstrating empathy is offering customized responses to customers versus a canned response. Rather than issuing a standard “ticket receival” response, you can add a few sentences to acknowledge the particular issue and outline steps toward a resolution.

  • Responsiveness: This dimension measures a business’ willingness to help customers and to do so in a timely fashion. This dimension involves both how quickly and effectively you respond to issues, as well as where you respond to those issues. Service providers must be available to adequately respond to a customers’ concerns as they arise, during the times and channels that your customers prefer.

Obtaining significant amounts of high-quality customer feedback is critical for every business. The RATER model can be applied both internally as a performance review measure for your customer services as well as externally to categorize and evaluate customer feedback or complaints. Incorporating the RATER model into customer surveys can be a great way to quickly identify customer service gaps across these five dimensions. Once you understand the customer experience you’re providing, it becomes much easier to begin the process of closing gaps and improving deficiencies. Please see us for a clear path to gather, analyze, and create an action plan that will improve your company’s CX.


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