Customer Service as a Competitive Advantage

Travel Sponsor: Zappos

Image by theritters via Flickr

Customer service as a competitive advantage is one of the more difficult ones to sell as most people are jaded by companies that say they have good customer service but don’t deliver on the promise. Great customer service has to be experienced for people to believe it and therein lies the challenge: you have to convince them enough to even try it out. More tangible differentiators like we’re the only company with feature X or position Y are easier to defend and point to, but are also easier for competitors to adopt. Customer service is difficult to do well if it isn’t built into the culture from day one.

What companies do you think of when it comes to great customer service? Zappos.com, USAA, Amazon.com, etc. It’s really hard to do customer service well and the handful of companies that do it well are perennial growth stories.

Here’s what I’ve found works for making customer service a competitive advantage:

  • Mention that you pride yourself on customer service but don’t spend too much time on it as people won’t believe it
  • Work hard to get existing customers to do video testimonials and have them articulate why your company is so good
  • Think of ways to get qualified prospects to use your support team as part of your customer acquisition strategy (e.g. proof of concepts, trials, etc)
  • Track your net promoter score and use that to gauge your success
  • Know that the benefit of high quality customer service will come from long run customer retention and employee satisfaction (employees want to work in organizations that truly care about their customers)

What else? What are other things to keep in mind when using customer service as a competitive advantage?

3 thoughts on “Customer Service as a Competitive Advantage

  1. At a high level I have always found it interesting to measure referral rates and churn as a indicators of customer service.

    But it is really important to make sure that those that touch your customers on a daily basis have the proper incentives to do what is necessary to deliver good service. Problem resolution percentage in conjunction with average talk times and satisfaction ratings for CSRs would be a good example. Whatever is going on with GroupOn sales reps would be a bad example.

  2. Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business won’t be profitable for long…

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