Monday, September 17, 2012

Customer for life?

This article featured in the Hindu Business Line dated 14th September 2012.
As I have often said, I spent six years of my life counting other people’s cash and writing other people’s fixed deposit receipts. Even after leaving the banking industry, I still talk about it as I am still a customer of one bank or the other.
Today, I am not merely a customer but someone who perhaps knows a little more about customers than when I was a callow youth in the banking counter hoping for a typhoon or a flood on Saturday morning so that I could leave in time to catch a movie rather than be flooded by customers! One of the first things I have since realised is something called “lifetime value of the customer”, which I knew nothing about or cared even less for in 1973 when I first started working with Grindlays Bank.


This is one of the most frequently quoted phrases that marketing people spout. Very simply, this term denotes the profits an organisation makes from dealing with a customer over a period in time. So, if you are my company’s customer for twenty years (bless you) then the profits we make from servicing you over that period add up to this number and clearly you have tremendous value to me and my organisation. Now I teach management students and they bank with one nationalised bank or the other because of convenience. They rarely ever have money, live hand to mouth and often have difficulty in meeting the minimum balance even. Soon they graduate, get jobs and grow in more ways than one.
In some time they become “high net-worth” individuals and every international and private sector bank woos my former students actively (and without a second thought, they switch camps and banks). So what has happened here? Here was a customer well within the fold of a nationalised bank and that bank messed up because it really did nothing to retain them.
Now is this unique only to nationalised banks? I am not sure as it happens too often in my own company. I am sure it may be happening (sadly) in your company as well even if you may not be forthcoming in accepting it as I have been.


Let’s understand why this happens. The reason is obvious. Companies are busy acquiring new customers. This is where the rewards and recognition are. Your bosses write to you. Your colleagues envy you and your career invariably moves north. And yet some questions are in order. Are we spending more time looking at new business and clients at the cost of our existing customers? Is our output better for prospects than for existing clients?
The constant gripe of clients in the advertising business is that their agencies churn out better work in creative pitches than they do for their existing clients and I can vouch for this – that agencies seem to be pumped about pitches but seem flat when it comes to ‘demanding’ current clients. I do hope that this is not the situation in your company.
It is worthwhile to remember that it is a lot more profitable to hold on to existing clients than spending on attempts at new business acquisition. This is not to diminish the value and importance of new business acquisition as growth is what we are looking for.
The smarter companies ensure they don’t jeopardise the service offered to their existing clients when they prospect for new clients. They have teams in charge of acquisition without depleting the resources on servicing existing clients.


Let me end by coming back to the banking sector. I have every international or new generation bank wooing me because they are under the mistaken notion that I am a high net-worth individual. They mail me, call me, message me and meet me frequently. If I were a girl that a guy was wooing with the same energy, I would have succumbed long ago. And yet when I do give them the business I find that this energy is no longer in evidence in servicing my business.
My constant refrain is that my Relationship Manager does not even last for a quarter on the average. So much so that if a new Relationship Manager asks to meet me, I invariably tell him to come three months later if he is still with the bank! Clearly there is a gap between what is promised and what is being delivered.
In fact the Relationship Manager is the brand to me and he is the one who lets it down, in my view at least. And in my view, despite all the hype surrounding the foreign and private sector banks, my good old nationalised bank is vastly better. It knows me and will somehow reach me when either of us needs to.


So what are we saying at the end of all this.
Customer acquisition is important. But in quest of this elusive Holy Grail, are we jeopardising our existing relationships?
Are we promising and trying to be more alluring in the courtship phase? After marriage, we suddenly realise that the person we married is a different animal from the one who courted us.
It boils down to treating our customer as an individual who matters, like the manager of my nationalised bank does.
Customer service is not easy. But the gains are phenomenal, if you hang in there. It is not easy to hold on to existing customers for years. But when you do the rewards are phenomenal.
Are you gearing up to reap the benefits?
Ramanujam Sridhar is Director of Custommerce and Founder CEO of brand-comm, a communications consulting company.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Customer aspiration based service design

When Henry Ford was asked if customers’ desires had anything to do with his path breaking Ford Model T, he had this to say, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Understanding that latent needs of a customer, which strongly revolves around a deep seated aspiration, can sometimes be the key to a product innovation, it can also be the building block of your organization’s service design.

When a customer walks into a BMW showroom, there are certain aspirations that are attached with a decision to walk in there. From the moment she walks in, she needs to see those aspirations getting fulfilled. Right from the first greeting, to the first question on what she wants. There can’t be questions of budgets and mileage. The questions need to come from the customer and possibly you will see an aspiration being realized. Creating a service design around this understanding of a customer, needs to be all pervasive from the way the salesmen deal with her, to the way billing and post sales is handled. The aspiration remains and possibly grows along with the ownership of the product. These aspirations are not attached only to luxury brands. Even mid market brands evoke aspiration among customers who may find such brands the pinnacle of their current stature and success. Working around these thoughts becomes a challenge as they are not that straightforward, yet, they do exist and discovering them lies in observing customer behavior. Customers tend to ask certain questions, get irked by some objections and are satisfied with specific features. In all these observations, lie the answers to what your customer is aspiring to become. Use those data points to build your service roadmap and watch customers enjoy the treatment in the way their purchasing behavior changes. Therein lies your organization’s reward for going that extra mile.

Customer aspiration has always driven many innovations, from a bulb to a Tata Nano. It wasn’t rocket science that built these products. They all were conceived by men and women who belonged to completely different aspiration levels. Breaking through the clutter of customer data and models, lies the simple art of deduction, of what your customer aspires to be, once she has used your brand. Let’s get started harnessing that power!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Getting Social on Social Media

Social media still manages to be a buzz word. Most of the business world was of the belief that the value of social media in business will soon reach its saturation point. But it continues to surprise businesses both small and big in the way one can approach customers, marketing and customer service. Now grasping the above ideas isn’t that difficult. Also, knowing that you need to be on social media isn’t going to win you any brownie points from your customers. But not being smart and maximizing your ability to give your customers great customer service on social media, can be an opportunity lost.

Studies say that customers who engage with companies via social media spend 20 to 40 percent more money with those companies than customers who don’t engage through social media. This should give companies enough impetus to provide great customer service on social media. The problem many see with social media is that neither is it face to face and nor are you talking to anyone on the phone. It’s a faceless conversation but social media has proven to be a great outlet for customers. People tend to interact more openly and freely online. This stemming from a certain anonymity coupled with a huge audience ready to listen and react. Customers expect companies to be more proactive on social media and this presents companies with a great opportunity to reach out and take action before the customer decides to. Being active by tweeting or replying to queries on your company’s Facebook wall instantly can be a great turn on for customers. It shows that you care and you are there. You can instantly put customers at ease as social media by nature is an informal environment. You can reach out to them faster by openly asking your customer base if they have any problems and then attack each issue head on. It’s not enough to be posting views on your brand and its marketing efforts; you also need to be able to reach out on issues that matter to a customer. And that is something you cannot do as easily from a physical outlet or through you call center.

Social media allows you to socialize with your customer. Chat them up, understand them and react. Being available on social media to address concerns makes you static and boring. It doesn’t help your brand point out any difference between your other customer service channels. Customers expect to be treated a certain way on social media and the foundation lies in the fact, that you got to reach out to them, talk their lingo and solve their problems just as you would do elsewhere. That is when the brownie points will start piling up like never before.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Big lessons that small companies teach

From Nordstrom (a Custommerce blog favorite) to Southwest to Taj, all are brands synonymous with great customer service. Yet these and only a handful of other large corporations seem to be known for their service ethic. But at the same time, you see many small and medium sized companies consistently getting their customer service ethos firmly in place. Many may attribute that to lesser customers or negligible hierarchy but like this article in HBR will tell you, it sometimes just comes down to empathy and common sense. So where else does the secret to good customer service lie in a medium sized enterprise? And what virtues of these companies can larger enterprises look to replicate?

A large hotel in Chennai is known to give its employees Rs.1000 everyday as a limit which they can use to repair any reasons of dissatisfaction with a customer. They can use that money on one customer or ration it through the day but it gives them the liberty to improve an experience. This can involve a complimentary drink, snack or anything that the restaurant offers. The limit ensures prudence yet at the same time it allows flexibility. Now, flexibility is an important lesson that most large companies can take from smaller companies like this hotel did. Small and medium enterprises generally have the advantage of flexibility in the way they can serve their customers. They can tailor their customer service efforts as per the customer requirement. Even larger companies can work past Standard Operating Procedures and bring in some flexibility to allow for a better service experience for customers. Another great virtue which large companies can pick from smaller enterprises is of having a top management which prefers a hands-on-approach. Customers of smaller enterprise are able to reach top management with their grievances much faster then they can reach a middle manager at a large enterprise. With certain protocols in place and by basing cases on priority, even a large enterprise can achieve this objective.

On the whole large companies need to see how they can bring in initiatives from smaller companies in moderation backed by strong business cases. They can serve customers much better by steering away from rigidity towards incorporating techniques that can improve the service experience. The lessons small companies are giving aren’t very tough to understand or implement. You just need to use common sense to know how much to commit, and remember, that all your customers need, is a little empathy. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Customer service can save the day

Countries across Europe and Asia are reeling from the effects of a recession that had its roots in the US. Companies in these countries will instantly start looking at the various options available to them to manage the crisis. Options like layoffs, broad based pricing to target more customers and many more value draining methods come to the fore. What generally begins to suffer is always, customer service. But can, a recession, be the most auspicious moment to improve your customer service?

Southwest Airlines, Lexus and the Ritz Carlton are brands known to keep their customer service promise at the forefront even at the dullest of economic conditions. Brands must understand the value of upping their customer service game during the downturn as customers become more sensitive to prices and the way their service provider treats them. Customer morale is at its greatest low at this point. Investing in systems, processes or ideas  that can help build this morale can serve you well not only during the downturn but also post it, as customers will never forget the brand who showered them with the love they needed. We are moving into a time where customers are expecting soft brands. Brands that are more communicative, responsive and ready to speak. Research over the years has always proven that brands who commit resources to customer service during a downturn or who have always considered it a priority, come out of a recession stronger and with a loyal base of customers with negligible erosion over the years.

Learning lessons from companies who are focusing on customer service can be pivotal in dealing with a downturn. It can give many brands an edge over their competitors and create an advantage that in time will become sustainable, recession or not. A recession is the one time in the story of a brand that can help them concentrate on customer service, make it invincible to competitors and lovable to customers. So let’s start planning and acting, now! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Knowledge ‘works’

Many service providers especially telecom players seem to have the fantastic ability to drown customers with offers that they will never use or have a record of declining. These very service providers are the ones who also have reams of data about their customers, data most of us would think should help them make the right offer to us. But we are often faced by the same static messaging which has ruined many an experience of our service provider for us. The problem does not lie with the amount of data they have, it also isn’t the fault of the lack of desire to give the customer a good deal. It all seems to lie in the much hidden and embarrassing fact that a lot of our service providers do have a lot of data but very little knowledge.

Companies have many storage hubs today. The Contact Center, Point of Sales, customer feedback and many more depending on the company and the various customer programs they have in place. The amount of data available here will be enough to piece together a decent customer outreach strategy. Yet service providers in most cases such as one of our friendly neighborhood telecom providers make the fundamental mistake of not making these hubs speak to each other. Due to this a lot of customer data gets lost in translation as its not being mined to get the relevant data points which can be used to market the right offers to the customers or at least – close to the right one. The key, one should believe lies in converting this data to knowledge which should be shared across relevant departments. A customer complaint may be voiced over a simple transaction related call into the Contact Center, but is that being sent over to the guys at Customer Service? A customer refuses an offer for an upgrade on her current calling plan at an authorized center. Is that then transferred to the Contact Center so that the customer is not pestered about it again?

The opportunities to use customer data are many and can prove to be both profitable for the company and improve customer service. Service providers will be more focused and relevant in their approach to the customer which only involves a better use of resources already available to them. Getting over the embarrassment of having customers come down upon the service provider with all their fury for every unnecessary offer made to the customer can be very easily avoided. And what better then turning that embarrassment into a meaningful opportunity for both?  

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Curious Case of the Online Whinger

The social media has turned us all into a commentator, a critic, a passionate advocate of the good, the bad and the ugly. Customers today, are just scaring the living daylights out of companies. Not sure when they are going to strike, companies cannot choose to be Frankenstein and allow the hoards to overcome them. Complaining and letting the world know what went wrong with your service provider has become a matter of duty today. And in this environment, culling out the complaint from the tantrum creates a unique dilemma, the kind of dilemma you cannot choose to ignore.

Social media forums like Facebook, Twitter and review forums have enabled crowds to converge upon a brand and rip it apart or give it a new lease of life. In an age where response and monitoring mechanisms are evolving constantly, brands do not have a choice but act in the now. Real time. Sifting the tantrums from genuine complaints becomes imperative because even with the vast tools at a company’s disposal, they still cannot possibly address every concern. Attacking the genuine ones with decisiveness and tact, and dealing with tantrums with kid gloves becomes key. Failing which, social media could very easily become a resource draining platform in more ways than one.

Over 1000 complaints turn up every hour across online public forums and social media sites. Right from service delivery to a service executive’s behavior is weighed up and attacked today. The customer is completely justified in venting, but an unresponsive company is not justified in being aloof. Companies need to take this opportunity they have been given by their customers to start owning a forum that has in more ways than one, been created by them. Ignore at your own peril.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Customer SPOC

Companies today profess their love for customer service with gusto unlike anything before. They stand under the metaphorical balconies of customers proclaiming their devotion to them and how they would always stand by them in their times of trouble. The U-turn after that though, is again something customers like many broken lovers have come to expect. Customers and companies enter a marriage the moment a customer decides to pick your product off the shelf instead of another. So why don’t companies really get serious about this? Why don’t they show some unwavering commitment? Why don’t they just get themselves a Chief Customer Officer?

The role exists in B2B and B2C firms as diverse as Allstate, Dunkin' Brands, USAA, Philips Electronics, FedEx, the Cleveland Clinic, and SAP. All companies greatly committed to delivering good service. So why hasn't this concept found its way into more management teams across companies? The reasons are many and diverse. Ranging from not finding the right people to not enabling them with adequate power to affect change to not being easily accessible to customers.  Companies serious about customer service can use such a person in management to help outline a strategy right from the top which will in turn tie in with the company objectives. Commitment to customer service needs to start from the top, quite literally. The top management must be ready to be decisive when it comes to executing their customer service strategy and adding a CCO to that mix and at that level of decision making can be the greatest show of faith.

CCOs can be the next coup de grace in a market dominated by lofty promises and earth shattering failures in service. A CCO should ensure accessibility and accountability for customers. She should be the point of escalation when things go out of hand. Communication lines to her should be available to every customer and her openness and accessibility in time will define the commitment the company has towards customer service. The knowledge that she belongs to the management will further help in instilling faith in customers that they truly have access to the decision makers. This is the kind of faith that makes a brand, the kind that promises to stand by their customer in sickness and health.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Customer Service Loudspeaker

So you are heading up the marketing division of a company. You wake up one day with a dilemma. How do I change my company’s brand positioning and marketing direction to acquire new and retain existing customers? You get out of bed and instantly are struck with the idea of taking that new shiny product of your engineering team and shouting out from rooftops about it. Over breakfast and some burnt toast you remember that nothing speaks better marketing than talking about a fall in prices. That just has to get them hooked. But, as you start your car’s ignition and turn into traffic crawling at a snail’s pace you decide that talking about your company’s heritage and wide customer base should do the trick. Convinced, you finally walk into your office building to be greeted by your office receptionist. Suddenly, her smile reminds you of your impeccable customer service which has been getting you many compliments and mails from satisfied customers praising a service tradition that seems unparalleled in the industry. Now you begin to wonder, is customer service really marketable?

Companies have begun to market their customer service much more today. Companies base entire marketing campaigns around this one facet of their service delivery. But, unfortunately many of those companies barely have processes in place to hand out good customer service. Millions are spent in creating the campaigns and a smattering of that is spent in living up to that promise. But there are companies who knowingly or unknowingly have put in place a very efficient and effective customer service strategy. Restricting the impact of this only to existing customers can be an opportunity missed. Communicating this to prospective customers and existing ones can be your new marketing direction. Consistently good customer service, after all is not easy to deliver and when you are, why not make a noise about it?

So as you wind up for the day and are wrapping up that presentation for ideas you want to take to your management, remember that talking about your customer service can be that differentiator lying in your organization waiting to be shared with your prospects and customers.  It can surely help you re energize your customer acquisition strategy and importantly help you sleep at night, comfortable with the thought that you have a solid marketing plan in hand.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Making the non routine, possible!

What puts Zappos and Nordstrom on a completely different orbit when it comes to customer service? Besides an unbelievable ability to understand their customer, it also is their knack to handle the non routine. A non routine query from a customer can be best defined as a request from a customer asking a service provider to go beyond laid down offerings and processes. This is where most brands get a shot at instant immortality in the minds of the consumer. And companies who do this with great aplomb are the ones who have a plan. A plan that may involve limitless employee empowerment or well distributed resources.  So even though we know, that fulfilling these queries can create customer satisfaction like never before, companies need to ask themselves this; how tenable is developing a strategy for handling a non routine query?

While planning such a strategy companies need to look at the financial burden that they might be taking on. Completing a non routine query can involve a cost which your business could not have accounted for. Preparing for these costs make it a tricky financial proposition. This leads us straight into another quandary a company faces; how do you empower your employee to handle these queries? Drawing the line for how much discretion you can trust your employee with is never easy. It involves a great amount of training and also smart recruiting. Employees have to buy into your brand philosophy or be trained to execute it to perfection. When you are past the monetary and employee capability conundrums, you will have to ask yourself if you can truly sustain such an effort. Changing track midway and not delivering on such queries can lead to a loss of goodwill as customers will immediately sense something is out of place. From that point on, getting back in the good books of the customer may take a greater effort.

So to sum it up, the three key requisites are: financial ability, employee empowerment and sustainability. These are by no stretch of imagination, the only questions you need to ask. A lot of it comes down to top management will and operational nous. The results are there for all to see, the commitment is what you need to ensure. So are you ready to become a Zappos or a Nordstrom? Now that, is not a non routine query!   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Loyalty, Advocacy and Beyond!

Companies today talk of how customer advocacy is key to the growth of their brand. Loyalty programs are expected to retain customers and push them to advocate their brand to new or undecided customers.  Stopping at this can be enough for most brands but not pushing for something beyond that can be a missed opportunity. Your most loyal customers, quite possibly know your brand and services much better than most employees in your organization. Using this priceless knowledge and mining it to its best can become a game changer for you. The idea that immediately emanates from this is to bring your customer in as an advisor. Use her to help you know your brand from her perspective and give you ideas as to how processes can be improved and customer service in turn, made more efficient.

Restaurants have been known to ask customers for opinions on new dishes being introduced. The risk of asking certain loyal customers for their opinions can lead to skewed feedback which cannot always be translated back into the business. But when a restaurant takes that risk of introducing that dish on its menu with the feedback from its closest customers, it’s not only a tremendous show of faith, it also is a statement of how valuable loyal customers are to them. Companies may not find such a program easy to execute primarily because executing all that these customers ask for, may not be tenable. But even telling them why it’s not possible is a grand gesture in taking the relationship further.

So ask yourselves if you can execute such a program. Ask yourselves what will stand in the way and if the problems seem difficult, think of the value of a small army of your most loyal customers backing your every move. That should be enough reason to get you started.

Friday, February 17, 2012

God of small things?

A brand’s greatest service challenge may actually manifest itself before your customer even walks into your store. A million factors can contribute to changing a customer’s mind from wanting to enter your service environment. This can range from a perennial long queue to a badly located store. The impact of these factors on designing your service strategy is critical. In the process we create an acute condition called ‘unsatisfied demand’ wherein we lose a customer’s business before him ever getting fully introduced to it. So how can the scourge of unsatisfied demand be sorted out with a well crafted service design?

But before you start drilling down to find an answer, you need to understand the kind of incidents and severity of them which are causing the aforementioned, unsatisfied demand. Incidents that will talk about how customers have turned their backs on long queues and in the process a brand. Walking into an ATM with the air conditioning turned to minus 20 and receipts strewn across the floor can leave one scarred about the brand, quite literally. Your day can go quite pear shaped when you spend an hour looking for parking outside that new restaurant while your stomach goes on a disobedience movement, demanding justice and some food. A badly lit coffee shop which is neither romantic or understated but just plain cheap, makes that immense need for a coffee disappear and attraction towards a brand too. The examples are countless yet are so simple and avoidable. These are just the few details brands forget to include in their service design which lead to a very forgettable experience for a ‘could be’ first time customer.

Taking stock of this and then acting upon these situations is not as easy as it seems. Customers can get turned off by very different things and identifying them and tackling them can be the game changer with today’s unpredictable customer. Companies need to ask themselves a couple of questions to get them started down this road. When I walk into my company’s store, is there anything that inhibits my interest to enter? How can I make that first visit as comfortable as possible for my customer? In the answers to these questions, quite possibly lies the key to never losing a customer even before you get to show them what you got.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Blueprinting the Service Design

When we experience exceptional service, we are instantly taken by the person who delivers it and give some amount of credit to the company. We talk about it to friends and family at tea parties and tell them how a certain guy changed our day with some great service. We talk about it at every opportunity and gradually the story becomes the story of the heroics of one service representative. In the process we often forget to give enough credit to the company who set the right conditions for such an act to be performed. You might just have overlooked a very well planned service design which is in play to provide you that memorable service. So let’s explore this idea a little further.

Southwest Airlines is miles ahead when it comes to a well planned service design. They have manuals and instructions for every action that seems so unique and memorable to you. Southwest has designed things in such a manner including their training formats that allows any newcomer to embed themselves in the Southwest service culture. At no point does a well detailed design take away from employing the right kind of people. But identifying the right set of people in a market where they are in incredible demand makes for a challenge of a very different kind. Building a service design that allows an employee to adapt and deliver can be the key to providing that elusive customer satisfaction your brand is expected to deliver.

A couple of questions you might want to ask yourself as companies are: Do you already have a design in place which is not adequately defined? Do your employees fully understand it and is it being audited from time to time? Are there any loopholes in your design which allows employees to under deliver? Does your service design need a revamp to manage your brand’s current expectations? A plethora of questions, but ones that need pointed answers. Answers that can help you design that memorable service experience that your customer would talk about at that next tea party.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Standardized Personalization?

In a time when customers have become all powerful, finding a way to please them all individually has become a gargantuan task. Customers know that in today’s networked, ‘Facebook before breakfast’ world they have the option to take companies to task at their discretion. At the same time, they have become extremely choosy about every element of the product. Customization can be blamed and so can companies’ need to impress and retain customers. But the end result is a customer who is exposed to many choices, wants more and wants it now, leaving companies with a very difficult question; ‘How do we build a customer service strategy that is personalized yet standardized and effective?’

Marketers on a daily basis deal with reams of customer intelligence telling them what homogenous sets of customers want from their product and base decisions on this research and deliver a product which is largely accepted. As long as the product satisfies a majority, they have a hit. But customer service is a wholly different ball game. Where a freebie may work for one customer, a cashback and a lifetime supply of the product may still lose you a customer. Standardization of customer service in such an environment is no more an option. 
Delivering experiences which resonate with a customer’s behavior, needs and desires has become paramount.

The need to come up with personalized strategies for all your customers may be an uphill task but at the same time generalizing can be suicidal. So the questions companies need to ask themselves are: Where can your service strategy differ? At what stage in the sales cycle can you affect the change? How do you find smaller sets of similar customers to whom personalized service can be standardized? Where does it all begin? Marketers need to start looking at customers from a very different lens then they used to before, because customers are no more a set of people with similar needs and rights. They are now deciding before you react and demanding before you produce.

So how are you going to deliver a one to one strategy?                                                             

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

80/20 Service Myopia

Many companies today follow the timeless Pareto Analysis where they believe that 80% of their business comes from 20% of their customers. On the basis of this, companies have become myopic in the way they hand out service to their customers. By providing differential service to their profitable customers they are possibly creating a very dangerous divide. There is no doubt that treating profitable customers differently in terms of incentives makes sense. Loyal customers have to feel the warmth in return. But customer service should be inclusive and doled out with the same consistency to every customer. At the end of the day, customer service is not only a hygiene factor for a business but also a promise made to a customer.

Organisations need to start showing courage in not distinguishing their customers when it comes to service. The condition has become endemic because companies are refusing to see the long term ills of such a move. Bad customer service across industries is the reason for customer migration. The telecom industry, for example, has made Bedouins of normal customers with their appalling customer service tactics. Often frustrating, often numbing, we have reached a point where customers have purely given up on the idea of good customer service. In an environment such as this, to have customers know that they are being treated differently can lead to nothing short of disillusionment.

Many companies especially some in the hospitality industry are very good at providing indiscriminate customer service. If a customer walks through their doors for the first time or the tenth, the service remains a constant because the true potential cannot always be realized in the first few instances. Over and above, a customer’s potential can be increased in time by providing consistently exceptional service. However, a brand that is truly in the business of customer service would never let such a situation ever arise. Don’t forget that as a company you have no clue what the potential of a customer is after his first few interaction with you. Differential customer service on the other hand on the basis of profitability, or a lack of it, can assure you that you will never see the full potential of that customer.

This is what we think, what do you think?