In the words of Tony Alessandra, "being at par in terms of price and quality only gets you in the game; service wins the game". The competitive landscape in all facets of business has been redefined by customer service delivery. From banking, to telecoms, oil and gas, manufacturing, retailing etc, the gaps that hitherto existed in terms of product differentiation are rapidly thinning out. Products and services are quite easily replicated, thereby making it more difficult to attain and sustain market leadership simply based on unique product or service offerings. Today's customer has at his disposal, varieties of goods and services, which may be superficially different but fundamentally alike. They offer benefits at almost the same or marginally varying prices, hence, the customer is really empowered to choose.
With Customer Service Delivery playing such a crucial role in business success, it behooves entrepreneurs to place emphasis on quality customer service delivery and plan to strategically transform customers to advocates of their businesses in the process. You can transform your customers to advocates by:
- Building Strong Customer Service Culture Within Your Organization: Instituting strong customer service culture through sustained display of service excellence in all customer interfaces within your organization will not only enhance customer loyalty, it will ultimately create advocates for your business and consequently contribute to growing your customer base while also ensuring your continued existence as a business.
- Delivering Superior Customer Service Experience: Delivering superior Customer Service Experience is another powerful strategy for enhancing profits and also transforming your customers to advocates. This knowledge has led to the introduction of after-sales services by leading businesses in Nigeria including banks who continue to use this strategy to their advantage. For instance, results of the last three to five editions of the annual banking industry survey showed that customer service delivery remains the key driver of retention and loyalty among bank customers.
- Exceeding Customer Expectation: The customer experience always begins with patronage. Every patron walks into a business premises with an expectation. Now, the ability to meet such expectation is the minimum required to move an individual from being just a patron to being a loyalist. A patron will readily walk into any other business outlet offering the same product or service as long as there is no significant difference in price and his/ her perception of the quality. A loyalist will however stick to a single provider, come rain; come shine and will become an advocate of your brand.
- Understanding the Advertising Prowess of your Customers: Every year, billions are spent on advertisements aimed at creating awareness for emerging brands or sustaining interest in existing ones. Advertising and marketing costs are major components of the annual budgets of global brands. Yet despite these whopping expenses, the quantum of new business opportunities brought about by referrals is formidable. This is because a satisfied customer could potentially be the greatest sales influence on any business enterprise as customers always share their experience with others whether good or bad. It is therefore business savvy to understand the advertising prowess of your customers and actively pursue strategies that will harness this power while keeping your customers happy.
- Rewarding Loyal Customers: Customers become loyal to your brand when you exceed their customer service expectation and become advocates when you consistently surpass customer expectation through deliberate and sustained customer service. Advocates don't just stick to a brand; they take personal ownership of the brand and actively market it. They develop emotional attachment to the brand and it becomes a part of their existence. When you deliver consistent exceptional customer service and reward your loyalists, you will unwittingly create an army of advocates for your brand.
Because customer service experience doesn't stop at the point of purchase and runs into years of use, superior customer service experience will ultimately result in returning customers, increase in new customers and an increase in business profitability.
As a business owner, it is highly recommended that you use this information to your advantage and plan to implement exceptional customer service delivery strategies within your business, which could unwittingly increase your 'marketing staff' and revenue at little or no cost.