Service – The Secret Competitive Advantage

Service – The Secret Competitive Advantage
5 May 2015 John Moore

Whilst some businesses still see customer service as nothing more than a necessary expense, research is increasingly showing that providing great service is as rewarding for customers as it is for your bottom line.

We have all experienced poor service and like most people, you probably told lots of people about your experience and how badly you were treated. This is a real, but hidden cost within many businesses. The lost recurring revenue plus the harm to your brand and reputation may never be fully known. But what is the benefit or return on investment of providing good or outstanding service?

Mediocre service which is the norm in most businesses generates customer indifference, if you are lucky, and a degree of dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, the presence of customer service often only creates customer indifference: it is the minimum that any customer would expect and therefore it largely goes unnoticed by customers. It is the base line expectation.

Customer satisfaction results from good, if not outstanding service. It is so rare today that we experience outstanding customer service that when we do we notice it. We tell others about it. We become champions and advocates. We are even sometimes moved to take action to make sure others know about it. This level of customer service is the secret competitive advantage.

Take for example, Caroline Brady’s experience. Caroline was badly let down by another Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Centre whilst working towards a Level 3 First Line Management qualification. Frustrated and angry, she turned to Exponential Training for help. After listening and understanding her difficulties, the Exponential Team implemented and executed a plan resulting in this message that I received:

“Thank you for your thoughtful letter and of course my longed for certificate.  I am writing in response to your request for information regarding my learning experience.

I cannot thank Anne-Marie and James enough: James for helping me initially and not turning me away, and Anne-Marie for being extremely helpful, understanding and so supporting.  Without their help I would never have completed this course.  Should I need to complete another course at a later date, I certainly know where to come”.

Yes, James and Anne-Marie went the extra mile to which there is a cost. But what a return on that investment in customer service! How many people will Caroline tell about Exponential Training? How good does she feel now and how good do James and Anne-Marie feel now?

And what are some of the outcomes of this? Customer satisfaction – Yes! Job satisfaction for James and Anne-Marie – Yes! Exponential Training culture and values re-enforced – Yes! And then there is the protection of the CMI brand and the enhancement of Exponential Training’s reputation.

I will leave to you to judge if customer service adds value to the bottom line. I know though that when I look at our customer satisfaction key performance indicators (KPIs) at the end of the year, next year and the year after, the bottom-line is in part a reflection of the service we have provided. That is one of the secrets of competitive advantage.

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.

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