"How Exceptional Customer Service Could Be Your Most Effective Marketing"

So I’m sure we’re all familiar with PWC. Price Waterhouse Cooper, one of the world’s largest and best known business accounting, consulting, legal and tax specialists. One of the ‘Big Four’ along with Deloitte, KPMG & EY. Of course you know them.

What you might not know, I certainly didn’t, was that PWC has a dedicated strategy consultancy team. A team imaginatively titled Strategy&.

And what Strategy& achieve in nailing a trendy new corporate business name they also more than match with the quality of their business reports.

Stumbling across one of their evergreen pieces, Next-Generation Customer Service The New Strategic Differentiator, it got me thinking.

It got me thinking… why wouldn’t every company, however big, however small, however new or old, innovative or traditional, make customer service their absolute priority? If it’s service that differentiates, that defines your competitive advantage, who wouldn’t bust a gut to make it world class?

My clients certainly do.

That’s why they use us. A world class partner 🙂

Quick to acknowledge their customers as super smart, each with a pocket sized window on a world of information at their fingertips, my clients know very well that if they fail to manage customer expectations, fail to communicate or fail to give their customers every good reason to love all they do and how they do it… there’s every chance that they as a business will fail too.

The business landscape is littered with the wrecks of those that either couldn’t care enough or else couldn’t translate that care into customer service that made people care enough about them.

But what do we even mean when we talk about customer service?

It’s everything. At every touch point. From the more obvious things like traditional brick and mortar retail manners, minimising call centre wait times, maximising information sharing to 24/7 online chat, to more process driven added value services. What the Strategy& report refers to as High Performance Operations put in place to:

  1. 1. Increase efficiency, balanced with effectiveness
    2. Streamline and synchronize processes and systems
    3. Selectively outsource simple processes
    4. Automate responses to standard inquiries

In the context of my business I’m talking about customer service that extends across a whole range of processes and problem solving. Services applied inhouse or upsold to clients’ clients. Services that see top quality professional services and top notch technology supplenting clients existing offering with masses of value.

Retail

Take our retail customers for example. It’s a fiercely competitive world. Particularly fierce when it comes to home furnishings; commitment to real estate and stock is vast, margins are tight, costs ever increasing and customer demands rapidly evolving.

There are three key areas in which our service radically strengthens our retail customers’ customer service.

  1. 1. Merchandising
    2. After Sales Service
    3. Furniture Repairs

With more than 150 stores nationally and a new sales focus on growing flat pack furniture sales we help Dunelm merchandise their products better by assembling them faster and to a higher standard than in-store staff.

Then there’s our flat pack assembly service that lets Dunelm customers sidestep the hassle and stress of setting up their own furniture at home.

After all, few people enjoy assembling flat pack furniture. Many lack the time, others feel unconfident, are worried about damaging their new purchase or get stressed about getting it wrong. We do it for them. Great for them and a great customer service offering from Dunelm.

Our after sales service involves furniture repair, something else that we provide Dunelm customers.

“It’s more convenient for customers for furniture to be inspected in their home and if possible repairs carried out there,” says Jeremy Mace, Senior Technical Manager in the Product Technology Department.

Merchandising. After Sales Service. Furniture Repairs.

Exceptional customer service products (popular too) that elevate Dunelm above their competition and define them as leaders in their field.

Hospitality & Leisure

We also help the hospitality and leisure sector deliver improved customer service and win competitive advantage with better quality environments, more comfortable seating, and safer more pleasant experiences.

As important as anything is our ability to keep pubs and restaurants operational as they are being refurbished. Not only do our clients benefit from being able to keep the cash registers ringing their clients aren’t met with any annoying ‘closed’ signs

Our work for JD Wetherspoon has slashed upholstery work from a 2 or 3 week turnaround down to 10 working days. As a consequence both cash savings and client convenience radically improved.

Furniture Manufacturers

Treating Harveys, Homebase and Parker Knoll customers as our own we provide punctual, polite and swift, skilled repairs in their customers’ homes. More than just signal a commitment to customer care our service acts as a powerful sales tool too. Customer service that wins trust and wins business.

Our Smart-Serv repair management system is unique in its ability to organise repairs with the maximum of efficiency and transparency. It seamlessly integrates with client call centres so customers can be quickly transferred to our support team.

Such is the power of Smart-Serv it also monitors a whole range of performance issues to identify significant trends. Furniture that consistently fails. Types of failure. Times. Places. The kind of important information that our clients need to create truly exceptional customer service.

Conclusion

What processes, what partnerships, what innovations or technology do you use to win the exceptional customer service battle?

Or as the Strategy& report identifies, the five key challenges to successful customer service:

Flatpack Furniture Assembly 2 man team

1. Leverage service for revenue growth
2. Innovate the customer interface
3. Integrate customer touch points
4. Drive customer-centricity
5. Create high-performance operations

As the report concludes, ‘Next-generation customer service represents a transformation from a necessary function for resolving customer problems into a value generating service that is a strategic differentiator in the market…

Only a step change in customer service approach and top management commitment to invest in service innovations will allow companies to deliver on their vision of customer service as a strategic differentiator.’

The exceptional customer service battle that we all fight each and every day.