Customer Service for the Value Leader

The value-leading organization has the hardest and the most rewarding place in the customer service world.  Bottom-feeders often sacrifice quality of product and service in favor of attracting customers with low pricing; they depend on wooing the customer that either doesn’t know better or likes to gamble with their purchasing decisions.  Ultimately, this model is the least likely to sustain long-term success because service and quality are not priorities and their entire competitive advantage is price.  On the opposite side of the spectrum is the premium brand who can afford to reinvest a chunk of their profits into little luxuries that make you feel special.  The truth of it is that you’re basically over-paying for a service and buying yourself a gift – but there is a sustainable market for an organization to compete as the best and most lavish.

It’s in the middle of the spectrum that you will find the happy medium and sweet-spot held by the value leader who takes a little piece of each model to compete.  The value leader depends on growth and the subsequent economies of scale in order to find a successful balance in its niche because from a pricing standpoint it has to hover much closer to the bottom-feeder than the premium competitor in order to grow.  It is challenged to create efficiencies at every turn and must implement a strong customer service environment to capture loyalty.  Here are some particularly universal areas that the value leader can focus on to get the most out of customer service efforts and distinguish itself from being likened to the economy branded competitor.

  • Put your differentiator front and center.  Make sure customers know what the added value of using your services will be.  The higher price is more than fine when customers are able to envision what that difference means to them.  If they don’t understand what it is, you’ll get compared to the cheap guys.

  • Focus on culture.  The people in an organization that clearly knows its own market position and competitive advantage will have the company’s goals in mind when making decisions and interacting with your customers.
  • Empower your people to make customer service decisions.  The most frustrating part of utilizing the bottom feeder is that their customer service (sorry to be blunt) sucks.  Their customer touch points are poorly managed and if/when you do run into some sort of snag, getting them to pay attention to you and solve your problem will take years off of your life.  In the mid-level position, you can pleasantly surprise customers in service situations by allowing your employees latitude in solving customer issues without escalating them throughout the various levels of management within.

What brands out there do you think are doing this well?  Southwest Airlines comes to mind for me – who else?

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