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The Pursuit of Quality at AT&T Universal Card Services - Essay Example

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The AT&T Universal Card Services Corporation is recognized as a pioneer in the highly competitive credit card business. With its commitment of providing maximum customer satisfaction, it has been in the forefront of creating a combined credit card and calling card…
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The Pursuit of Quality at AT&T Universal Card Services
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Download file to see previous pages In order to monitor the performance of employees in dealing with the customers, the business organization has set up a unique and multifaceted measurement system. With these thrusts, the company is seen to surpass the industry standards. The creation of a process measurement system enables AT&T "to locate problem processes; to promptly address any problem discovered; to constantly asses how well customers are being served; and to reward exceptional performance" (Rosegrant 3).
It should be noted that AT&T's motivation technique is primarily through the use of monetary benefits. Customer service representatives who are in forefront of the company's operations and are directly dealing with AT&T's customers are given financial incentives like bonuses if they achieve the goal set by the management. In order to monitor performance, managers, team leaders, and top executives are tasked to listen to the telephone associates' conversation with the customers in varying degrees. AT&T also conducts daily meetings in order to discuss the daily performance of the customer service representatives. This becomes the important venue for the discussion of how service quality can be continuously improved.
The product offered by AT&T in the market together with the company's extension of exceptional customer service has gained it the largest market share in the credit card industry. AT&T has become the youngest business organization to be awarded the sought after Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Despite this success however, both external and internal pressures are forcing AT&T to institute changes in its business operation.
II. Statement of the Problem
Looking at the external environment, competitors have recognized the huge profit potential in the market served by AT&T. The product which was pioneered by AT&T has become common in the market. New players have tried to offer their own no-fee, low interests credit card making it difficult for AT&T's product to stand out. Thus, the business organization opts to emphasize its thrust of providing above industry standard customer service. With this, AT&T's executives are faced with the challenge of identifying the ways on how to boost and enhance customer service provided by their telephone associates. This is even worsened by the fact that the company growth has slowed down and will not be able to accommodate the ascent of telephone associates to the corporate ladder.
Externally, there is a strong pressure for managers to take the quality measurements a step further. The current system fails to correctly indicate customer satisfaction. It has been found out that the telephone associates' performance is not directly correlated to the quality of the service extended as perceived by the customer. There has been a consensus that the current system is not adequate to meet the more intense rivalry in the market: "Moreover, the current measurements no longer seemed to be driving the quest for improvement, and Davis and others had become convinced that it was time to retool a system that no longer fits the needs of the company" (Rosegrant 12). However, there is no consensus on what ought to be done in order to improve the process. Changing the process will also post problems within the workforce. It has also become apparent that changing the system ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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