In the consumer-driven world, things are a changing. As more businesses look for increased scale through digital investments (e.g. increased focus on ecommerce) it is becoming more difficult to maintain the high-touch feel of differentiated customer service. By proxy, many brands are becoming largely the same. They expect customer to take more “responsibility” for their actions and rely less on unique service to complete a task. In chapter 7 of Darwinism In A Consumer-Driven World, we explore options to turn service from what is traditionally a cost-center into a competitive advantage.
How? Glad you asked. To me, the answer is simple: be willing to do the things your competitors won’t. It’s risky, to be sure, as there’s a reason why most businesses see service costs as an opportunity to cut the fat and improve the bottom line.
But what if we changed the paradigm? What if we started to think of service as a marketing opportunity, rather than a cost center? An opportunity to change the hearts and minds of our customers by going above and beyond, if you will. We’ve all heard of highly-successful businesses that have done this (Zappos, for instance), but not all organizations have the corporate culture to support Zappos-like change. So, here are a few things you can do to help kick-start the process of becoming a premium self-service brand:
- Create Relevance – Simply put, find the things your customers are struggling with, and turn them into self service opportunities. As an example, take a look at the “smart mirror” prototypes Nordstrom is developing for the cosmetics counter.
- Find Balance – Don’t be afraid to pick your spots, and invest in differentiated self service where it’s most important for your customers, while cutting service costs in other places.
- Assign Cross-Functional Ownership – Customer service should be everyone’s responsibility in your organization, not relegated to any one business group. Give everyone ownership, hold everyone accountable.
Think of these things as a primer to the chapter, which contains more strategies and examples that will help provide context as you move toward establishing a concrete self-service strategy for your business.
And as always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts. Drop a comment below and I will answer any questions I can!