Plugging In To Differentiation
Author: Stewart Hill
Last week the BBC published an online article about power sockets titled “A universal plug socket…at last?” They comment on how sockets differ throughout the world and that there is no universal standard. For international travelers like me, this creates a number of challenges: you have to know which type of adapter works in which country; you need to remember to pack the correct adapter before you travel; and you have to purchase yet another adapter at the airport if you are lucky enough to have realized that you have forgotten to pack this before you left home! The last point is particularly expensive and painful: now I probably possess more European adaptors than I have electronic devices that can use these!
This is clearly a problem, however the BBC’s article goes on to explain how the Chinese recently invented, and are now using, a universal plug socket that will accommodate all styles of plugs – British, American, Australian, and European. Gone will be the days of carrying adapters and experiencing confusion. A consistent and reliable experience will be enjoyed by everyone.
While this may be considered as an engineering breakthrough, I wonder what the notion of a consistent, reliable, and predictable customer service experience would mean to both service businesses and their customers. When it comes to the day of service, we would all like to know precisely when our field service engineer or installations team will arrive. And, of course, we want to be assured that they will have the right skills and parts. This is reliability and predictability in action and, should we use the company’s services again in the future, we want the same high quality experience. In other words, we want things to be consistent.
The same applies to the service organization itself. When delivering service from the moment the first call is placed, right through to completion on the customer’s premises, they also want to deliver a reliable, consistent, and predictable service by having the right resources, in the right places, and at the right times.
But what nobody wants is industry-wide consistency where the same service is delivered in the same way by any service organization because this is when complacency reigns and inter-company competition dies. This is where the insurance industry stood just a few years ago.
To stand out from their competitors, the best service organizations continue to innovate, invest and “plug in” to solutions such as service chain optimization to make a real difference in attracting new, and retaining existing customers. In a seemingly endless period of economic challenges, this is what it takes to survive. How is your business “plugging in” to differentiation?