In Service, the Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend
Almost every business success story involves an organization that found its niche, its area in which it can differentiate itself from all of the competitors. And the more places in which an organization can differentiate itself, the greater the success story. But with success comes competition, and even the most innovative companies eventually find themselves in the heat of battle with others. This is where the proverbial “wheat” can be separated from the “chaff”, in a company’s ability to solve the really challenging, and often feared problems of service delivery.
Within every service industry that I know of, there are those topics which cause those amongst us who are striving to stay within budget or improve quality of service to cringe. Utilities and Telcos suffer through storms, trying to stay afloat until they are over. But what would the regulators say if we marketed that handling storms was our specialty, and that we planned and trained specifically for quick restoration?
In computer services, the 30 minute SLA is a feared part of many contracts; but it could be the specialty of a service organization that sells itself as a specialist in “mission-critical” system support. And of course, within consumer goods there is the all-desired but rarely tried “one hour appointment window” which has a cost, and presents a substantial challenge to staff; but if planned properly, it can send the message that the customer’s time is far more important to you, than the competitor offering a four hour window.
All of us want to differentiate in our various ‘theatres’ of battle. We can either try to do better, in what others do well; or we can address those areas of our business that allow us to be one of the few addressing the most challenging problems head-on. The storm; the 30 minute SLA; and the one hour appointment window are, as the four minute mile once was, achievable by the best long before they become a commodity.
Can proactively attacking these and other challenges allow us to separate ourselves from the ‘field’? I believe it can, but what do you think?