How Good Is Your Customer Service?

Using the RATER Model to Improve Your Customer Service

How Good Is Your Customer Service? - Using the RATER Model to Improve Your Customer Service

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Happy customers keep coming back for more!

"A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large."– Henry Ford

What makes your customers happy? And, are you giving it to them? Finding out the answers to these questions should be top of any organization's list of priorities.

After all, if your customers' trust and like your organization, your sales will be stronger, your reputation will grow, and your customer service team will spend less time fielding complaints.

But keeping your customers happy isn't always easy. Perhaps you know that your service isn't great, but you're not sure how to improve it. Or maybe you're already streets ahead of the competition, and you want to make sure it stays that way!

According to the RATER model, great customer service is built on five key pillars: Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, and Responsiveness. In this quiz, we'll explore these five key areas in more detail, so you'll never miss an opportunity to delight your customers!

Test Your Customer Service Skills

For each statement below, click the button in the column that best describes your team's approach to customer service. Answer the questions in a way that reflects the situation as it is now, rather than how you think it should be. And don't worry if some of the questions seem to score in the "wrong" direction.

When you're done, click the "Calculate My Total" button at the bottom of the test, and then keep reading for advice and tips based on your score.

Your last quiz results are shown.

You last completed this quiz on , at .

17 Statements to Answer

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree Nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
1 We are happy once we've met our customers' expectations.
2 Customer opinion is closely monitored across all platforms, including face-to-face, surveys, email, our website, and social media.
3 We look out for, and deal with, issues before they become a problem.
4 Team members feel empowered to deliver exceptional customer service.
5 My people rely on detailed scripts in their conversations with customers.
6 Customer feedback is shared with other departments and acted on.
7 Our relationships with customers play only a small part in how they view the organization.
8 The team lacks the people and systems it needs to cope with demand and to solve problems.
9 We're known and valued across the organization for our contribution to the business.
10 My team members prefer to deal with pressure in their own way.
11 We're not scared to ask our customers what they think about our service.
12 I often have arguments with other teams because they've let our customers down.
13 I ensure that our customer service meets minimum expected standards before we think about adding extra features.
14 Team members genuinely understand and care about each customer's experience with us.
15 Experts from other departments help to develop my team members, so that they can give customers a better service.
16 We keep our focus firmly on selling.
17 My team and I are proud to represent the organization to our customers.
Total = 0

Score Interpretation

Score Comment

You are probably spending more time dealing with the fallout from customer complaints than being innovative with your service or systems. Consider making fundamental changes to the way that you do business, if your organization is to survive in the long term. Read on to learn about the five areas that are critical to good customer service.


Not bad. You are clearly doing some things right, but there is definitely room for improvement. Examine the five customer service areas, below – you may need to make small changes in each area, or tackle one aspect of your team's work in depth. 


Well done! Your team goes the extra mile for customer satisfaction. You have a strong rapport with your customers, and you often foresee problems before they arise. You likely provide a service that your customers cherish, and that your competitors envy. However, you'd be wise to keep looking for ways to stay on top, so read on for some useful tips.

This assessment has not been validated and is intended for illustrative purposes only. We based our quiz questions on five areas that are critical to good customer service. These are summarized in The RATER Model as Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, and Responsiveness. Work through each area with your team and watch your customer satisfaction levels soar!


(Questions 6, 7, 12, 13, 14)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

Every organization has to deliver on its promise to customers. If you don't "come up with the goods," you let your customers down at the most basic level. They won't feel able to trust your team or your business, and they certainly won't be happy.

Sometimes, the underlying problem might be out of your control. Perhaps the logistics department is struggling to keep up with orders, your website has some bugs that need to be fixed, or a supplier has delivered poor-quality parts. But don't give up: identify the areas where your team does have influence, and act on those.

For example, if your team members are responsible for handling queries or complaints, encourage them to be fast and accurate. Organize briefings for them so that they can give customers consistent and up-to-date information. If it's appropriate, post updates online when a problem occurs, and notify your customers when it's fixed. And share customer feedback with other departments, so they can improve their own reliability, too.

Whatever your particular business and processes, you'll always be more reliable if your team has a Customer Service Mindset. In his book, "Win the Customer: 70 Simple Rules for Sensational Service," Flavio Martins says, "Service should be part of the behavior, thoughts and actions of everyone in the organization. It should inspire people, encourage their development, and transform their work, as well as the customer's experience."


(Questions 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

How clear is it to your customers that your service is reliable? For example, they need to know that their credit card details are secure, so your systems must be up to the job, and you must be able to demonstrate that you have the necessary safeguards in place.

Customers also want to be sure that they're buying the right product for their needs. If your business is online, they must be able to find the relevant information quickly and easily. And they may want to contact your team to find out more, so it's vital that your representatives are polite and well-informed. 

Regular communication with your operational or product development teams, for example, can break down silos and help to ensure that your team has a broad understanding of the products or services that your organization offers.

You can also carry out a training needs assessment to address any gaps in your team members' technical abilities, or in their "soft" skills. This will enable them to deliver customer service with confidence and credibility.

Throughout, be sure to support your people practically and emotionally, and to encourage them to do the same for one another. This will likely increase their resilience, despite the emotional labor of dealing with problems or complaints. Team members who feel valued and engaged will feel more loyalty to your organization, and their enthusiasm will shine through in their customer service.

To learn more about building customer loyalty, read our article on Georges and Guenzi's Customer Trust Model.


(Questions 4, 7, 8, 9, 17)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

Do all of your communications with your customers deliver a message that's consistent with your brand, and with their needs? To build strong customer relationships, your social media and website, your printed material and packaging, and your team's knowledge and skills should all align to form a recognizable and trustworthy identity.

To achieve this, your systems and infrastructure also need to be robust enough to support your people effectively. You may not be able to make such resourcing decisions yourself, so develop your powers of persuasion and negotiation to ensure that your team has what it needs to do the best job possible.

Staff turnover can be a good indicator of how your people feel about their work. If they find their jobs too tough, they'll be tempted to leave, or they may even be at risk of burnout. But, if they feel supported and empowered, they'll be proud and happy to stay, and will likely be an asset to your business.


(Questions 2, 3, 11, 14, 16)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

It's essential that you and your team see things from the customers' point of view. If you do, you'll gain a better understanding of their thoughts, actions and needs, care about their experience, and communicate with them more effectively. 

You can gain this perspective by working on your empathy and listening skills, and by learning how to build rapport. And you can develop an even deeper knowledge of your customers with surveys, business ethnography, skilled use of social media, and Customer Experience Mapping.

If you manage complaints and feedback continuously, rather than just responding to crises as they arise, you'll be able to preempt future problems. And, when things do go wrong, you can draw on the positivity that you've built up with your customers, and manage their expectations. If unhappy customers know that you'll do everything you can to make amends, they'll be less likely to "jump ship" to a competitor or share damaging comments online.

Aspire to the highest level of Miller and Heiman's Buy-Sell Hierarchy. At level one, you are simply providing a product or service. But, at level five, you're helping your customers to solve their own problems – you become indispensable!


(Questions 1, 4, 5, 7, 13)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

Every interaction that your organization has with a customer is a chance to build a relationship, to increase goodwill, and to learn. And, if your people are listening carefully and feel empowered to take action, they can drive change and innovation.

For example, online clothes retailer Zappos® sets no time limits on its employees' calls with customers, has no targets for the number of calls they should complete in a shift, and doesn't script conversations. Instead, the priority is to be personal and thorough, and to build customer loyalty.

Zappos is a world leader in adding what it calls "wow." Customers can speak to the same person each time they call, and they receive personalized cards, gifts and services in response to complaints.

If you use a chatbot on your website, ensure that your customers know that they are talking to a chatbot, and that they can speak to a human if they need to. Chatbots are a great way to automate routine customer service tasks, but they are likely unable to handle more complex inquries. This can quickly become frustrating for the user.

Key Points

Good customer service is essential to the success of your organization. You can develop your customer service by using The RATER Model to assess your team's Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, and Responsiveness.

A team that adopts a customer-focused mindset will more likely develop a culture of creativity, positivity and continuous learning.

This enables your organization to become more competitive. It can also improve your reputation, and mean that you'll spend less time responding to complaints or handling crises.

This self-test is just one of many that help you to evaluate your abilities in a wide range of important career skills. Click here for other self-tests.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!

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Comments (13)
  • Over a month ago BillT wrote
    Hi Tomislav,

    I totally agree with you that you can use good Customer Service skills, not only for the workplace but also at home.

    Thank you for the positive feedback.

    Mind Tools Team
  • Over a month ago Tomislav wrote
    The whole project is excellent no matter if you are beginner or experienced. Strongly recomend for briefings and home alphabet. :)
  • Over a month ago Michele wrote
    Hi hpl123,

    No apologies necessary. :-)

    Mind Tools Team
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