Strive for Superior ServiceBy Kathleen A. Martin | Posted 2009-05-14 Email Print
Re-Thinking HR: What Every CIO Needs to Know About Tomorrow's Workforce
Everyone talks about the services revolution, but the reality is that service is a journey, not a destination, and a tremendous differentiator in the eyes of customers. Solution provider success often rides on the quality and continued improvement in service delivery.
It’s all about service today: customer service, service contracts, service guarantees. If you believe your business has nowhere else to go to improve service, think again.
In a market where your products are a commodity or are not tied to your brand, your service sets you apart. There are three key rules to success when it comes to offering service:
Be the Best
The power of excellent customer service cannot be overstated. It is not just enough to have a live body answer the phone; your response time to customer concerns and technical issues must exceed expectations. Prompt, courteous and sincere responses can make the difference between a customer choosing to continue to grow business with you versus your competition.
Good customer service saves your business money. It can cost three times as much to develop a new customer compared with the expenses of maintaining your current customer base.
Keep It Simple
When it comes to service contracts, less is more. Keep your service offerings clear and concise. Do not overwhelm a customer with complicated offerings and sliding fee scales. A la carte service offerings are fine, but price them in a way that a customer can understand.
Consider three tiers to your service contracts: good, better and best. This allows customers to purchase the plan they can afford today and increase their coverage as their business with you grows and as their budget allows. As a customer hits a rough economic patch, it also allows them to downgrade their service contract with you opposed to canceling altogether.
Anyone can create a guarantee, but real peace of mind comes when a customer knows the person offering the services. People choose to do business with people they know and trust. Your company's brand is tied to your service offerings. A guarantee on response times, customer satisfaction and extension of manufacturer warranties can clearly differentiate your business from your competitors'. Money is tight and getting to incremental spends is tough right now. Offering a guarantee on price savings, service offerings and business process improvements can free up some of those difficult-to-find IT dollars.
Your company’s service offerings are more than just monthly contracts and maintenance agreements; they are an extension of your brand. Loyal customers are built through relationships based on trust and success. View your service offerings as more important than the products you represent, and the loyalty will be to your company and your customer will grow vendor-neutral. The most successful solution providers are offering true business solutions that translate to service growth for their companies.
Kathleen Martin is special projects coordinator at Channel Insider.