The RATER model was created in 1988 by psychologists Valarie Zeithaml, Leonard L. Berry, and A. Parasuraman and introduced in their 1990 book Delivering Quality Service. The RATER model is a way for businesses to measure customer satisfaction.
Understanding the RATER model
The model comprises a five-point framework that clarifies how customers evaluate the service they receive and distinguishes between customer experience and expectation.
Businesses can evaluate each of the five points to determine where they are excelling and where there is still room for improvement.
What’s more, the RATER model can serve as a common reference point for staff across the organization and clarify best practices.
We will take a detailed look at the five areas in the next section below.
The five important areas of the RATER model
Reliable businesses are those that consistently deliver services and quickly resolve issues as they arise.
Here are two ways reliability can be embodied in practice:
- Honest explanation of what the business can and cannot do for the customer. This transparency is the foundation of reliability and manages customer expectations.
- Reliable businesses do not make promises they are not 100% sure they can keep. Customers may find it unpleasant to have a request denied, but over the long term, they will come to value and trust the company’s honesty.
Assurance is related to trust and a company’s ability to deliver what it says it will. How can trust be increased?
- Understand the real needs of the customer and meet them at all times.
- Build credibility with proven expertise in the product, service, or industry in question.
- Maintain consistency standards. In other words, businesses must ensure that customers never hear different things from different people about them.
This dimension explores whether the business presents itself professionally across all customer touchpoints.
This includes physical and digital spaces and how customers respond to the environment the business creates.
- How do customers get in touch? What steps did they have to perform? What could have impacted their mood or expectations? Medical businesses may apologize to customers for a long wait time, for example.
- When businesses deal with customers in person, an open, friendly, and interested demeanor is vital. These elements are key contributors to a customer’s impression of a business and are expected as a bare minimum.
- Bricks-and-mortar retailers such as Whole Foods Market offer tangible service elements such as clean restrooms, aisles that are free from clutter, and relaxing cafés where shoppers can rest.
Empathy is one of the easiest RATER metrics to understand and revolves around whether customers feel the business cares about them.
To show empathy, businesses can:
- Talk less, listen more, and ask effective questions to increase understanding.
- Avoid platitudes such as “We apologise for the inconvenience”, and
- Look out for and acknowledge customer emotions. To make the customer feel heard, it is also useful to reference their specific problem in correspondence and describe how it will be addressed.
Responsiveness describes how quickly and effectively the business can respond to customers in channels they prefer to communicate in. Responsive businesses:
- Acknowledge the receipt of complaints or inquiries immediately or as quickly as practicable.
- Do not wait until they have the full solution in hand before making additional contact with a customer.
- Provide realistic deadlines or timetables.
- Manage multiple channels to handle customer service communications, and
- Are perceived by customers as willing helpers.
- The RATER model is a way for businesses to measure customer satisfaction.
- The RATER model is a five-point framework that clarifies how customers evaluate the service they receive. It also makes a point to differentiate between customer experience and customer expectation.
- The five areas of the RATER framework include reliability, assurance, tangibles, empathy, and responsiveness.
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