Date of Defense




First Advisor

Katherine Karl, Management

Second Advisor

Todd Wyer, First of America Bank

Third Advisor

Jerry Kopf, Management


Total Quality and meeting or exceeding expectations of the customer is a top priority. The service industry current accounts for 60% of our GNP and 70% of the jobs in the United States. With this in mind, quality customer service is something all companies should strive for.

Companies that are leaders in their field and who are doing a great job with quality customer service are Cadillac Motor Car Company, recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Award, and Wal-mart, America's largest retailer. They have some very interesting and innovative ideas about providing quality service for their customers.

First of America (FOA) follows the following five key principles of service wisdom in attempting to achieve quality customer service: List and respond to customers, define a service strategy, set standards and measure performance, train and empower, and reward and recognize service accomplishments. Three units at FOA reported their progress in achieving these five keys and, on the basis of the reports, one was evaluated highly successful, one middle of the road, and one as needing some improvement. They will be referred to as Unit One, Unit Two, and Unit Three, respectively.

A Service Management Practices Inventory survey was randomly distributed to management and nonmanagement personnel at the three units to determine how satisfied employees were with their unit's efforts to achieve the five keys, and to determine what barriers the employees felt prevented them from providing quality customer service.

The main barriers indicated by Units One and Three to providing excellent customer service are understaffing, inadequate communication between departments, employees not being recognized for service efforts, and inadequate computer systems. At Unit Two, the main barriers experienced were inadequate communication between departments and inadequate product knowledge and training in people skills.

To deal with the problem of inadequate communication between departments an e-mail system is recommended. To deal with the inadequate recognition for service, different methods of positive reinforcement are recommended. These include rewarding people frequently with what they value, communicating the cost of benefits, offering a cafeteria benefit plan, providing a lump sum bonus to employees who have reached the top of their pay grade, and implementing a recognition program based specifically on merit. To deal with the perception of understaffing, the implementation of employee involvement groups, which will look at finding ways to make jobs easier, is recommended. To deal with angry abusive customers additional skill training is needed, and to manage stress, a program of stress management should be implemented.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only