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“Strategic service is not just about how an individual representative reacts to an individual customer; it’s about how the company as a whole reacts to its customers”. – PWC

In today’s business world, competition has become fiercer and customers more demanding and aware of what they deserve. Customers want value in whatever they buy, and this goes beyond low prices or good quality in products. Despite the demands and expectations of customers, they are quick to recognize and appreciate a company that affords them with seamless and top class customer service. Studies show that there is a strong correlation between the growth of a company and high customer service levels. It would make sense therefore for a company to use customer service as an advantage – since service excellence, is one of the top demands of customers today. The successful companies of today all seem to have one common link – top class customer service to all customers, consistently.

Recognizing that customers seem impressed by top class service, many companies talk about the importance they place on this aspect, but the truth is that only a handful actually can deliver. The only way to use customer service as an advantage is to deliver service consistently – it must be a continuous experience for all customers. A company must focus on being of help and adding value to its customers throughout their ‘journey’ with the company – including the stage when customers seem to ‘browsing’ the offerings of a company. For a customer any interaction with a company should be an experience worth remembering – and this would happen if the customer receives top service across multiple channels and even when interacting with several people in the company.

It becomes obvious then that the key word to remember for using customer service as an advantage is consistency. The reason so many companies fail at providing the kind of service customers expect and demand is their misconception that customers value brief and few moments of delightful and extraordinary service, rather than consistent, quick, and convenient support. The harsh reality is that poor experiences with support teams raise the likelihood of customer disloyalty by as much as four times. Customers would much rather prefer to use the self-service tools rather than speak to inefficient and discourteous support staff. They prefer to get quick answers without the obligation of speaking with company representatives unless absolutely required and necessary. Hence, in order to use customer service as an advantage, companies must support customer requirements through efficient self-service tools and a proficient and polite support team. There is a huge opportunity to succeed for companies that do provide service and use the ‘right tools’, in the way that customers expect. Today survival depends on service – service is no longer a choice that companies can take or reject.

The reason for being able to use customer service as an advantage is that when afforded consistently, it results in customer loyalty. Friction free service and minimum effort on the part of customers leads them to like and trust a company. Customers must be able to perceive a company’s commitment to helping them at the right time, in the most appropriate way, through the medium of their choice, and in the swiftest way possible. All these aspects make service relevant and personal, resulting in a company’s ability to use customer service as an advantage. An advantage that would accelerate the growth of the company, help it to outrun competition, and gain sustainable success. The fact is that at least 89% of customers say that personalized service is extremely important to them – they expect to be treated as individuals with unique and special requirements and needs. Customers want to know that they are not just sales numbers – they want customized and seamless experiences and proactive service, which would mean that their issues and problems would be resolved even before they actually happen.

For using customer service as an advantage, a company would need to make an effort to truly know and understand its customers. The more a company knows about their customers – who they are, why they would buy, their lives, what they expect to achieve when associating with a company, and what their pain areas are – the better it would be able to serve them. As mentioned in the past, for a company to build and sustain any kind of culture, it must percolate from the top. The same is true for a customer-centric company – it must have leaders that truly care and uphold customer service ideals. Each one must support the company’s values, while having their own, and build a company that cares more about its customers than short-term profits. To use customer service as an advantage, everyone in the company must emulate and exhibit these values and display them in their actions, and this would mean hiring the ‘right’ kind of people. People, who genuinely care about others, are both competent and have strength of character, and have an unfeigned desire to serve their customers.

We know, (customers do too) that customers are not always right, and sometimes a company would need to let them go (fire them!), but before doing so, a company must make every effort to make the ‘relationship’ work. Using customer service as an advantage means ensuring that it becomes a practice and a ‘habit’ in the company. The focus of a company should be to achieve win/win – to make a real difference in the lives of customers and helping them move closer towards their goals. Using customer service as an advantage is about moving from the myopic view of short term profits, to looking at the ‘big picture’ – long-term profits and success for all involved. A company that truly believes in customer service would ensure that its employees

When a company uses customer service as an advantage, it helps the company to differentiate itself from competitors, and eventually turn even some customers who may have been dissatisfied, into loyal brand ambassadors. Customer service becomes an advantage when customers feel important, special, included, and in control of their relationship with the company. Top class service consistently is a company’s opportunity to show customers what the company stands for and believes – it is a demonstration of values and the assurance that promises to customers will be preserved always.

Using customer service as an advantage is more than just solving problems – rather it is a path to turn existing customers into the most potent and strongest assets, and would help to gain more customers without much effort and expense. Customer service becomes a company’s most powerful tool, enabling everyone to work better and faster, and ultimately emerge as ‘heroes’ for every customer the company may have ever had, currently has, and could have in the future. Using customer service as an advantage is about ensuring that the service teams know the value of going the extra mile, making that ‘wee bit’ more effort, and doing whatever possible to give customers what they want, expect, and deserve.

Using customer service as an advantage is about a smarter approach to service, making it one of the sustainable advantages a company could have, using it grow profits, and investing resources consistently in this important business aspect. Lip service does not suffice now – every company must make and meet the goal of exceeding customer expectations, because in the long-term it would translate to humongous benefits for a company. Are you ready to use customer service as an advantage?

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