Impact Learning Systems


Customer Service: The Key to Brand Differentiation Peggy Carlaw

Customer Service KeyThe recent issue of Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Man­age­ment mag­a­zine fea­tures research from Gallup show­ing that fewer than 1 in 7 B2B cus­tomer rela­tion­ships are optimal.

“It’s becom­ing more dif­fi­cult to stay ahead of your com­peti­tors with just a product-oriented dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion.”   —  Ed O’Boyle, global prac­tice leader of Gallup Marketplace

Accord­ing to O’Boyle, “You have to add more to the rela­tion­ship there. B2B in par­tic­u­lar, has a mani­a­cal focus on the fea­tures, prod­ucts, and deliv­ery mech­a­nism but some­times fails to rec­og­nize the strength of the rela­tion­ship that they need to build.”

Fully engaged cus­tomers, accord­ing to Gallup’s def­i­n­i­tion are those who “are strongly emo­tion­ally attached and atti­tu­di­nally loyal. They’ll go out of their way to locate a favored prod­uct or ser­vice, and they won’t accept sub­sti­tutes.” These cus­tomers were found to aver­age a 23 per­cent pre­mium over typ­i­cal cus­tomers in over­all wal­let share, prof­itabil­ity, rev­enue, and rela­tion­ship growth.

There are a num­ber of ways to cre­ate engaged cus­tomers beyond offer­ing an out­stand­ing prod­uct or ser­vice. One way, of course, is through var­i­ous forms of brand mar­ket­ing. How­ever, while a well thought-out and cre­ative mar­ket­ing cam­paign can cre­ate the strong emo­tional attach­ment needed to form a high level of cus­tomer engage­ment, cus­tomers will quickly switch from engaged to actively dis­en­gaged if they have a bad inter­ac­tion with cus­tomer ser­vice or support.

Hence the grow­ing focus many com­pa­nies are plac­ing on achiev­ing world-class cus­tomer ser­vice. By spend­ing a frac­tion of their mar­ket­ing dol­lars to improve the cus­tomer ser­vice skills of their employ­ees, pro­vid­ing their ser­vice and sup­port teams with the appro­pri­ate tech­nol­ogy to sup­port them, and mak­ing sure com­pany processes and pro­ce­dures are customer-friendly, these com­pa­nies are achiev­ing out­stand­ing results. Invest­ing in ser­vice deliv­ery will not only mea­sur­ably improve cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and loy­alty, but also reduce oper­a­tional costs as well.

With the econ­omy begin­ning to improve, it’s time to con­sider re-allocating resources to ensure that your cus­tomer ser­vice and sup­port teams stand ready to build on your brand promise, and cre­ate cus­tomers who loudly sing your praises.

Peggy Car­law is the founder of Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, a lead­ing train­ing com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions between front-line employ­ees and cus­tomers. Peggy is co-author of sev­eral books pub­lished by McGraw-Hill, includ­ing Man­ag­ing and Moti­vat­ing Con­tact Cen­ter Employ­ees and The Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games.
Peggy Carlaw
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    The truth is you have to put out a good prod­uct to even have a prayer of com­pet­ing. That's a given of any indus­try. But the way you treat your cus­tomers and the kind of rela­tion­ships you have with them can really set your com­pany apart. Plenty of stud­ies indi­cate that peo­ple are will­ing to pay more for great ser­vice, so it's also in your best inter­est finan­cially to focus on it. 

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