Quality of service review via Simalto

In business-to-business markets, Quality of Service Review (QSR) is a formalised process of gathering information from key account customers to support account planning and relationship development. It is particularly suited to major accounts, where the relationship may be complex with many levels of contact and influence.

Ideally QSR is carried out by your Account Management or Sales team as the process gathers valuable insight that will help deepen and strengthen the relationship and identify new opportunities for working together. It is an example of One-to-One Research in action where the process of collecting data is part of the process of reviewing the account.

Key Account monitoring - conducting a Quality of Service Review

Business relationships are typically complex, particularly with key accounts. They are multi-leveled, potentially very valuable (a single account may account for several percent of your total revenue), typically long standing and on-going and often highly individualised.

Most companies in business markets use some form of account management to co-ordinate the business in looking after the needs of the customer. Typically, the account managers fulfil three roles: they develop the relationship; they sort out problems; and they provide detailed information to the customer.

In practice, the day-to-day role of an account manager often revolves around the current hot issues - sorting out problems and providing detailed support for current issues - has the product arrived, there's a quality problem, we have some new areas to investigate. Among all this detail there is a danger that the broader strategic and relationship role of the account manager is lost among the fire-fighting. The account managers role is not just to firefight but also to win more business by strengthening and deepening the partnership.

To be able to deepen a relationship, the acocunt manager needs to learn about business needs and identify strengths and weaknesses and opportunities within the customers business. This may involve selling 'tin' or equipment but it more often than not involves providing service and support to the customer and helping them with innovative ideas for business improvement.

A Quality of Service Review is a tool that helps the account manager and the customer step back from the day-to-day to look at the relationship overall, to look at all aspects of the relationship together, identify gaps and look at priorities for improvement (see our service quality self-test). Often the fire-fighting just seems to come back with three issues, quality, delivery and price, yet there are many more aspects to the relationship than these. In particular, when we carry out QSR projects, we often find out that soft issues such as service, trust, sharing new ideas and providing ad hoc help and consultancy can be very valuable to the customer, but can be lost among the practical details.

The second objective of the QSR approach is to be able to measure performance across accounts and therefore for senior managers to identify areas for improvement across the business as a whole. Some things may be tolerated by customers, such as repeated failure to deliver in full, or poor billing or paperwork, but across the customer set could be improved for all of them

Our QSR approach is designed to allow for measures of performance to be analysed across contacts and across accounts, to enable you to look at the key strategic picture across your customer base, as well as at the individual level. This means that senior managers can plan according to measured priorities and measured performance, instead of relying on anecdotal evidence.

Built into the QSR process is the need to develop account plans based on the customer's priority areas for improvement. In our experience, feedback to customers is seen as vital to ensure that customers buy into the process and see the value in the account plan.

QSR is based around the use of Trade-off grids or Simalto or Menu driven selections (Simalto stands for Simultaneous Alternate Level Trade-offs) as a tool to collect information (and to act as a point for starting discussion) and typically covers detailed areas across: Product Quality, Delivery, Ordering and Payment, Account and Technical Service, Systems and Communications, and Business Focus and Strategy.

For help and advice on introducing Quality of Service Reviews into your business contact info@dobney.com