Standing Out In Customer Service Can Be a Good Thing....Or A Very Bad One
One of the greatest challenges all companies face is how to stand out in the minds of their customers. Market share is precious, and in a world where market segments are becoming more and more commoditized, it’s becoming a much tougher task.
There's a big question about customer experience right now
Customer experience, and its subset, customer service, have been touted for the last two decades as the great differentiator. There’s a good reason for this. There are virtual mountains of research and case studies pointing to the direct relationship between improved customer focus with customer retention, loyalty and sales.
But, and it’s a big but, when everyone in the industry begins focusing on the same thing, is it still a sound strategy for differentiating yourself?
Two extremes of the loyalty spectrum
The answer is a resounding yes, but in a slightly weird way.
There are two extremes in the customer loyalty spectrum. On the one hand, there are companies focused on ensuring consistently positive experiences. They try to create brands that will be top of mind for customer experience. Many expend an inordinate amount of resources to measure how well they are doing.
The other extreme are companies with a fundamental transactional focus. They are uninterested in using resources to improve customer experience, because they can’t see a concrete and immediate impact on revenue.
These latter companies survive under only two circumstances: When they are the only game in town, and when none of their competitors are interested in raising the bar. If one of those two conditions change, however, they typically don’t last very long.
Standing still is a bad strategy
But what about those highly competitive industries where everyone is on the Customer Experience battleground? It just might not be realistic for your company to clearly own the top position. In these cases, is the investment in creating Outstanding customer experiences really wise?
Well, yes. If for no other reason than the alternative really sucks. It’s true that you may not reach the top, but the one place you absolutely don’t want to be is in the bottom position. And aiming for the middle is a sure way to get there.
Standing still as the customer experience bar continues to raise all around you is like standing in a telephone booth (remember telephone booths?) that is filling up with water. So, even if you don’t see a benefit of leading your industry in customer experience, it still needs to be a priority.
Standing out, therefore, isn’t always a good thing – if the place you are standing is at the bottom.
As Avi said in The Journey to WOW, “Complacency is the enemy. There is no end to this journey you have begun. The moment that you convince yourself you have arrived is the exact moment you begin the insidious descent to mediocrity.”