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Main Topic: Localizing Service for Chinese Customers

Hosts: James Stanworth

James presented on localizing service for Chinese customers to the executives at the Innoprise event in Shanghai. Companies often use the Western models to measure their service quality. Often this means using the classic SERVQUAL dimensions (reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy and tangibles). My research shows that customers in Chinese setting focus on different dimensions. Important ideas are shared in the presentation about new factors to consider focusing for Chinese customers.

James has explored service in a range of different retail settings that stretch from banking to restaurants and hypermarkets. This on going work considers what factors are important when customers in Chinese setting evaluate the service they are receiving. Three factors are consider as positive and help to develop customer relationship. The first, chin chieh, focuses on genuine, warm behaviours that create a sense of closeness.

James used the example of scooter store that showed the natural look of the service staff as come to take away the rubbish/trash from the customers hands. With a natural smile and a 'thank you' they take it away. It feels natural, warm and something a friend might do. Active service brings into focus actions that the customer appreciates but does not want to request or appreciates being done. James example video showed a member of staff calling for a cart in the hypermarket. The customer has not not even ask for it. But it looks convenient since she has many purchases and importantly it saves her any embarrassment of requesting it. Respect fits social hierachy - seniors, the wealthy and obviously educated customers are treated with greater respect. The example video showed staff bowing, offering the product with two hands and signalling to the customer how to move off from the counter.

James work also reveals two aspects that act as terminators in service relationships. Hard sell and policy and procedure both turn off customers. Hard sell sees staff not accepting a 'no' and continually hassling the customer to purchase. In Chinese culture signals are often subtle and non verbal. Body language, change of topic, or just ignoring the other party send clear messages that they are not interested. So the intrusiveness of hard sell is uncomfortable. It breaks the comfort of harmony and creates feelings of conflict. Policy and proceedure is interesting. In the West we offer suffer from bureaucracy. James example video showed staff trying to give her customer warm friendly chin chieh services. She berates the fact that rules and procedure stand in her way of helping the customer get the discount.

These factors provide opportunities to use service to deepen relationships with customers.

Chinese may overlook reliability if the service is chin chieh...

Listen To The Show (Audio Only):

Length: 31 minutes. Download MP3 14.60MB (Right click->Save As).

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Watch The Show (Video & Audio):

From Taichung, Stephen, James, and Clyde.
Length: 31 minutes.

iPod Download MP4 53.71MB (Right click->Save As).
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Bottom Line:

  • Firms often make the mistake of using Western measures - like SERVQUAL - to measure service quality in Chinese settings.
  • Chinese customers focus on different service quality factors from Western customers.
  • Chin chieh, active service and respect build relationships with service customers in Chinese settings.
  • Hard sell and policy and procedure act as a barrier to relationship building.
  • Meaures of service quality need to be localized.
Category: Videocasts

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