Customer service is ... everything you can do to help your customer achieve their objectives...
That's a broad definition, but it describes a broad relationship.
Customers today expect more than simply the delivery of a transaction, the wider relationship is just as important, for example:
i. in business to business arena, Rolls Royce no longer sells aero-engines to airlines, their proposition is to keep planes in the air and on time, by providing real-time monitoring and management services.
ii. in business to consumer arena, most shoppers now value the whole experience of visiting the shopping centre (the catering and leisure facilities for instance), not just the purchase of goods. Some centres even provide a creche for grumpy husbands (technically called a "pub").
Customer Loyalty is widely misunderstood ...
Customer Loyalty does not mean being a happy customer. It is wider than that: it means pro-actively seeking out your brand and recommending it to others.
Can you buy loyalty? You can try.
Firstly your company could invest heavily in brand promotion because there is always support to loyalty from your brand.
Or secondly you could promote based on price reductions, because loyalty is supported by competitive pricing. Both these options have their downsides - not least that they erode margins. They are also relatively easy to copy and therefore difficult to use as a differentiator.
There is a third way, though, because the strongest proven driver of customer loyalty is the provision of superior customer service.
Differentiation based on service is an increasingly utilised method of “standing out” from the crowd. Best practice service means understanding what your customers really want, and delivering it. Deployed correctly, it is incredibly difficult to replicate.
One reason for this is that it is hard to get it right in the first place. Each decision made in a customer-facing process can have an impact, from operation of order management processes to design of your support operation. Getting it right means have a crystal clear definition of what is important to each group of customers and developing your processes to meet these requirements.
Read further for a proven methodology to help you define your strategy for made to measure customer service, and link that strategy to the business processes and systems required to deliver it.
Customer Loyalty is the acid test. Customer Loyalty builds value in your business.
Some business use a measure called Net Promoter® Score to measure the loyalty of their customers, as the resulting scores are easy to understand and can be benchmarked across industry. How Important is Customer Service?