Friday, December 09, 2005

Will the Real Customer Service Come Forward

I have seen and read dozens of definitions on customer service. They all seem some what noble and mystifying and each with a different focus. This is all and good except when business starts each day they all go out the window and it is business as usual. The following is an excerpt from our website at "The Customer Development Center"

"Customer Service" as defined in business terms, is what a company or business is willing to do for the customer/client to procure the sale and payment, with as litle cost to the company as possible in either time or money. This also includes all post sale customer care and support programs. This may be simply stated, but it is true.

I know customer service has a bunch of definitive definitions that are all impressive. But, and it's always but, they are centered on and around the above definition when applied. This is determined by the current focus with which companies do business and define their customers. Hey! Let's be realistic. I've sat in on those sale meetings, the branding brain drains and the accounting audits and can tell you right now customers are seen in terms of what they bring in quick dollar conversion and not much more.

What would happen if the sale/orders/cash flow cycle were no longer central in business? Instead, we focus on the customer and their overall experience (group of experiences) as observed through their interaction with the business or product. What if this became central and all business processs were designed to support it? Hmm, now that's a thought to consider.

The power in redefining Customer Service in terms of successful Customer Experience Management brings realms of possibilities that can push the envelope. By the way studies show that successful customer experiences bring increased sales, increased loyalty, higher retention; and provide longer customer lifecycles.

In the customer experience model a customer lifecycle is defined not by the product or services purchased, but by the term length in which continuing meaningful experiences or interactions takes place with a given company. In these terms the customer lifecycle can under the right conditions can be extended indefinitely.

How you manage these customer lifecycle experiences will define you as an owner, manager, and as a business. It will define your social and ehtical responsibility to your employees, the community and your external clients in terms more powerful than current customer service practices. It permeates every department and function of a business and if aproached correctly involves everyone across departments lowering internal barriers that work against internal productivity. "Customer Experience Management" is a very powerful tool which encompasses the holistic view of business.

Welcome to the "New Customer Service Model."

For another and fresh perspective from a branding point of view go to What's Your Brand Mantra. Jennifer is a beliefer in seeing business as a business ecosystem. I don't totally agree with the idea of brand being central however. Brand to me is only as a part of the forming of the customer Experience model. However, it is a good read.

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