Some businessmen claim that customer service makes all the difference in the business arena. Others are not so convinced and argue that it has lost the power to make or break a business. They think it is high time to rewrite the textbook and that competitive advantage as we knew it no longer exists. It’s true that business landscape is changing at a rapid pace, but has customer service rally fallen from grace, or is it just wrapped in new branding and marketing clothing?
On the top of the game
Business owners across the globe are in search of the Holy Grail, something which enables them to rise above the competition. Many of them swear by customer service, and indeed, there is rich evidence supporting these assertions. In the US, 59% customers state they pick brands in pursuit for a better customer experience. Hence, companies still tend to differentiate themselves through this facet. They invest in employee training, employ social accounts to interact with consumers, and take advantage of new software solutions.
Interestingly enough, studies have identified that smaller companies have an edge. They can come up with a more personalised approach and get to know individual consumers. Take the example of Bedworks, a company which relies heavily on customer service while selling their custom made products, something that shows on their website, or Jet Blue Airline Company with the so-called People Officers that give away free tickets during flights. A personalised service from a trained professional certainly builds necessary trust and satisfaction.
The cutting edge
Yet, it seems that what works for some does not cut it for others. We could assume that the value of customer service depends on the specific industry sector. However, we have witnessed a rolling trend of convergence, where the lines between different sectors are blurring. It is not easy to predict where the competition lies, as various types of companies fight for the same money. To beat others to it, you have to outmanoeuvre varying businesses across multiple industries.
Furthermore, the digitisation has changed the business game, levelling the marketing field and cultivating global information-sharing. Moreover, these developments shift the position of customers: They have never possessed such power and freedom of choice as today. In such a market climate, there are certain forces other than customer service that can be used to draw people to your business or build consumer satisfaction. Some consumers, for example, will be attracted by corporate environmental performance.
Evidence suggests that environment-friendly businesses are able to sustain their competitive advantage, achieve enhanced profit margins, and grow more decisively. This is only one demonstration how the brand can be infused with great appeal. As a result, the customer service concept needs to be broadened, and encompass emerging or present trends. One of them is certainly diversity, a notion that is used by numerous people as lenses to observe nearly every aspect of their lives. It is linked to ecological practice in the regard of biodiversity, but also involves professional and social fields.
Thrilled to pieces
Consequently, customers seek companies that align their marketing messages and brand building with the prevailing beliefs and aspirations. Enterprises that fail to realise this lose customer’s goodwill and money. Still, it is safe to assume that customer service excellence still pays off. Namely, it is much more cost-effective (6-7 times) to retain an old customer than to acquire a new one. Also, loyal customers are typically worth 10 times more than their first purchase.
However, this aspect might not be such a decisive factor for many businesses and customers. In other words, customer service is nowadays vital for the survival of businesses of all sizes and types, just not that critical to their ultimate success. Corporate social responsibility, diversity-sensitive marketing campaigns, and eco-friendly packaging, these are the things that may delight customers more in this day and age.
Factor in a complex matrix
The face of the business world has been changed by the influence of multifarious factors, not the least of which is the rising level of competition, multi-sector assemblage, and the digital revolution. Competition today is more diluted than before, and companies are overwhelmed by growth possibilities. Customer service is an important tool of the trade, albeit it is far from a silver bullet many deem it to be. A company must embrace other priorities like eco-friendly and diversity agendas in order to stay ahead of the curve in 2016 and beyond.
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- Developing Competitive Advantage Through Customer Service - January 11, 2017