What exactly is ‘strategic customer service’?
First of all we need to define ‘customer service’. Everyone has a different point of view but I believe it is a philosophical approach by an organisation to add value to its core products or services that it offers to its customers (existing and potential).
Therefore; what is ‘strategic customer service’? It is a set of organisational cultural thinking and structural processes that support the organisation’s vision and strategic direction to enable it to be competitive and sustainable over a long period of time.
This is based on the premise that an organisation understands its customers and their current and future needs, and is committed to providing value to its customers while maintaining a suitable return for its stakeholders.
Can customer loyalty exist without companies resorting to dramatically slashing prices of goods/services?
Absolutely! On the contrary, slashing prices is not the way to build and maintain customer loyalty. If you win a deal on price today, you will lose it on price tomorrow! Loyalty cannot be bought. Loyalty can be thought of as an attitude that reflects devoted connection and affection. It is brought about by a history of trust, respect and dependability.
Loyalty is about being true to the brand image of a product, and a company understanding its customers and why they remain loyal—and never losing sight of that.
Can you name one company that is strategically customer focused?
The Disney Corporation! If you look at their ‘Destination Disney’ strategic initiative, it was driven by a focus on customers with their needs built into the Disney vision. This is probably why Disney has been around for such a long time.
Sure, they have made their mistakes; mainly by not understanding the different customer needs in foreign countries.
Hence, the importance of continuing to focus on the customer no matter where you are conducting business. However, this is an important customer service lesson too. We all make mistakes in business and in our personal life, and in terms of loyalty it is not the mistakes we make but how we recover from them.
In Australia I would like to nominate each of the State Zoos as being strategically customer focused, in terms of understanding who their customers are and how to provide a ‘unique experience’ for them.
What can participants expect from your upcoming workshop on customer service excellence?
This workshop will provide you with the opportunity to learn new tools and thinking to implement a strategic customer service focus in your organisation.
You will also have the opportunity to brainstorm these models and tools with other people. Different organisations manage customer service in different ways, so here is an opportunity to gain and share ideas that work—not only in the short term, but to make a company sustainable over a long period of time.
The key for this workshop is participant involvement—to learn, to share and to have fun.