definition of customer service is emerging; one that goes beyond doing it right the first
time, providing communication excellence, on-time deliveries, and being responsive to
individual customer requirements.
All these are starting points for
service. The simple, unavoidable truth is that if customers do not receive this level of
service, they go elsewhere.
The customer-service issue can be
summarized very simply. Service for the future means becoming a valuable resource for
What this means is that those
companies providing knowledge will be the winners. To put it another way, the
lowest price is not enough to hold customers--if it comes without the benefit of expertise.
Effective customer service today must
be equated with knowledge, information and expertise. This is what today's customers
There are five important implications
in this "knowledge is service" concept.
1. Price may attract customers but
information sustains relationships. Of course, price is important to customers. But
price alone does not hold them or keep them coming back. When they need more than just the
product or service, they will go where they can obtain beneficial, helpful information. In
other words, it is time to learn that price alone does not produce loyalty.
2. Doing it right may please
customers, but helping them achieve their goals keeps them. Efficient, helpful, rapid
service makes people feel a business recognizes the customer's importance. But simply
being even an outstanding "supplier" or "vendor" is only the
beginning. Value comes from making a continuing contribution to customer's success.
3. Being on the cutting edge may be
the correct positioning, but being viewed as a valuable resource produces long-term
confidence. If a company is perceived as somewhere other than on the cutting edge, it
is not really in the ball game today. But proper positioning is only a starting point,
not the goal. The major challenge for businesses today is to have customers and
prospects wanting to do business with them because their knowledge is valued.
4. Automation may make players, but
leadership comes from innovative ideas. Almost routinely today, businesses are making
an effort to let their customers know the extent of their automation. Again, there is no
question about the importance of state-of-the-art capabilities when it comes to meeting
customer needs. But at the same time, leadership in any field comes from new, fresh
5. The right products and services
keep business coming, but shared expertise attracts the right customers. Every
business targets specific customer groups, whether it is business-to-business or the
consumer market. Yet, most businesses complain that they are never able to attract the
right customers, the ones they really want and can best serve. The only way to solve the
problem is for companies to become recognized for their knowledge! The correct knowledge
produces--attracts--the right customers.
Just when we thought we had a handle
on quality service, the world continues to change. The emphasis now is on the company's
knowledge, insight, experience and expertise. These will be the prize "products"
in the years ahead.
Never stop learning and
thinking out-of-the-box... "The only sustainable
competitive advantage a company can have is the ability to learn faster than its
competition." Theodore Levitt
Books on Customer Relation Management
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