Service, ROI, and Differentiation

Customer Service departments and the people working in them are some of the most highly monitored and measured functions around.  Service leaders are constantly challenged to prove ROI on any recommended initiative and in this economic struggle, are forced to reduce the cost of every transaction in their centers.

But how does all of this measuring and expense reduction help or hurt employees, the organization, and customers?  And, how do you – your company’s service leader – prove what you already know?  That significant painful expense cuts and the constant micromanaging of call metrics is counter-productive and that customers have a hair trigger tolerance to the smallest whiff of poor service – as defined by them?

In a recent report on ICMI’s website titled “Call Center Strategy: Poll Shows That Good Customer Experience Really Pays Off“, author Adam Mandelbaum highlights the following ROI metrics as relates to providing great service:

“The following statistics show the percentage above the actual costs that those 85% of respondents are willing to pay:

  • 76 percent would pay 5 percent or more
  • 55 percent would pay 10 percent or more
  • 27 percent would pay 15 percent or more
  • 10 percent would pay 25 percent or more

So what do all of these numbers mean? According to RightNow CEO Greg Gianforte, “The figures show that despite recent economic challenges, consumers still value a better customer experience and are willing to pay more to guarantee it”.”

Surprising to me is that even in this economy, customers are still willing to pay premium prices for guaranteed great service.

The article continues with…

“As Gianforte suggests, companies may be better off pouring more resources into their customer service operations. “Businesses should take note and spend less time and energy on product price wars that devalue their brand and concentrate more on providing a better experience,” he says.”

I agree with Mr. Gianforte’s suggestion.  Of course, as service leaders we are all mandated to ensure an appropriate expense level to run customer service functions.  However, most – if not all – products are already commoditized which means that no company has the luxury of spending more and more on public relations, television advertising, or elaborate marketing campaigns.

The last and ONLY market differentiator is service, so the time to change the boring, unenlightened expense reduction conversation into the investment of delivering market differentiating service is now.

Now is the time for you to recommend that marketing, advertising, and public relations dollars be reallocated to service investment.

And, now is the time for you to figure out how you can ‘guarantee’ the great service your customers want – and are willing to pay a premium for.


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