Today’s post comes courtesy of Roger Francis, Director of Services and HR at MindLeaders ThirdForce
I’ve recently returned from a business trip to the States and as usual, I was overwhelmed by the quality of customer service in comparison to the UK. The cynics may say that it is inextricably linked to a tipping culture but in my opinion, the difference seems to run deeper than that. Great customer service is embedded in their culture, something that shows through in the warmth of their hospitality.
The problem we have in the UK (where our economy is now so dependent on the “service industry”) is not so much that our service levels are poor, it’s that they are horribly inconsistent. Whether it’s in a restaurant, a hotel, a supermarket or a bank, the level of service we receive varies from one person to another and even within a single site it can differ from one day to the next.
Yet UK companies invest huge sums of money in training their people to provide good service and then even larger sums of money in advertising the fact that they provide fabulous service. So why the chasm between the aspiration and the end result? One reason is that companies focus on “service” because they think that they should do so, rather than because they believe it adds real value and a genuine point of differentiation.
At MindLeaders ThirdForce, we put an enormous amount of energy and resources into our service provision. Whilst we believe that our elearning and vocational training products are Best in Class, we also recognise that many of our competitors have quality offerings. However, as we have been told time and time again, one of the key reasons why customers choose our products is because they know that they are guaranteed an unmatchable service offer.
There are two other key aspects to any successful service offer. Firstly, we need to understand that the service offer is not a one size fits all model, but should be tailored to meet the needs of the individual customer. That means we need to gain a thorough understanding of what our customers require – not just of our products, but of the wraparound service.
Secondly, we need to recognise that customer aspirations continue to rise and what may be regarded as a good level of service today will appear average in 12 months’ time. That is why we constantly review our service levels, regularly seek feedback and develop innovative ways of improving our offer.
What are your views on the value of “service” and what have been your experiences to date?