Companies Need to Create a Service Culture

Understand you're in the service business. Southwest Airlines is successful because it understands it's a customer-service company that just happens to be an airline.

The idea that salespeople can create value is absolute nonsense and quite illogical. What is needed is to build a connection, a bridge from the customer's value preceptors to their solutions.

Perceived value as defined by customers creates loyal customer relationships, and customer loyalty is the best predictor of your future strength and growth potential. The value you provide to your customers is always compared to the value your competitors provide: therefore, value is your customers’ perception relative to similar products or services in the marketplace—your competitors.

Perceived value occurs at the intersection of what customers want and what they get from you versus what they could get from your competition. You can only sustain customer loyalty by continually meeting your customers’ product/service qualifications, specifications, or expectations. You should strive to meet customers’ needs in the order they deem important while maintaining a favorable comparison between you and your competition. In your marketplace, your competitors are the alternative suppliers your customers use to form their comparative value perceptions. How would your customer define perceived value?

For example if your customers expect your product to perform error free, to be delivered on time, to be supported by timely and personal technical support, and to be properly billed at a fair price, you must be good in all categories to get an “A,” and you must be at least as good as your competitors. If you deliver a product that meets all of their design specifications but are unable to provide personal technical support, you failed in meeting an important criteria; therefore, the perceived value will decrease. For every mark you miss, the value as defined by your customer decreases and you slowly lose the ability to develop a loyal customer relationship. To create and sustain loyal customers it is necessary to consider every contact with each customer as an opportunity for you to provide value—every time. Every service point is critical and every service point has a level of expectation from the customer that must be understood and managed. We call these contact points—points of connection.

Every point of connection gives your organization the opportunity to emotionally connect with your customers. Your customers will judge your value and their emotional tie at every point. Developing and implementing a strategy of creating a consistent emotional connection with your customer creates value, which creates loyal customer relationships.

We know that loyal customers will always return to purchase your product or service, which create a long-term stream of revenue. Another advantage of loyal customers is that they will consistently boast about your product or service creating the most effective and least expensive form of advertising for your organization. There are additional advantages of developing a loyal customer base such as their willingness to pay more for your product or service, and they are also more forgiving when your organization makes a mistake. Why? As loyal customers, they trust your organization and have faith that you are fair.

Making the strategic decision to create a loyal customer base is one of the most important commitments you can make to the success of your organization. Your individual contribution is also a large part of that success.

 

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