Is elite customer service the new competitive advantage or will the might of difficult economic times win over such that price is the only customer barometer? It’s true that many industries and buyers will use tough economic times to focus on driving price down, getting better rates from suppliers or simply culling their vendor list with an eye towards driving down price.
The IT Services Industry is certainly affected for both suppliers and contractors alike but time and again, research shows us there is a disconnect between what clientsreally valueand what we may think they value. A recent study of both vendors and customers underscored this disconnect when they asked each group why customers left. While 59% of vendors cited the number 1 reason customers left was price, the reality was customers themselves said the number 1 reason by far was poor customer service. Furthermore, this is magnified by the fact that seemingly organizations are unaware of their own shortcomings in customer service. A recent Bain & Company study of the management of 300 organizations showed fully that 80% claimed their company had outstanding customer service, yet at the same time, they surveyed over 3000 of their customers of whom only 8% said these same organizations had outstanding customer service — the disconnect continues.
The customer service experience of a dissatisfied client spreads through “word of mouth” and now the even more powerful social media channels with “word of mouse”, both of which can severely damage and/or devastate a business. Many of us can assuredly relate to this in our own circles. Is it the stories of high prices or examples of appalling customer service that are shared with friends, family, and colleagues be it in our face to face interactions or online?
So what are we to make of all this? While it’s true we can never make price irrelevant, can our customer service be so good that our clients have no desire to explore our competition? Can our clients be so enamored by our attention and elite service that they have no reason to leave us? Yes, it may be trite but aren’t we all in the people business and don’t we all want the best people experience in all of our commerce?