Not in the manual: The Scrambled Service Mindset


We all know that customer service has never been a more important lever for competitive advantage, differentiation and building brand loyalty.  So why is it still not happening right?

Too often the mindset is scrambled, with service being viewed as something additional that can be tagged onto the product.  It’s not – it’s in the product.  It is the product. So it follows that service is not just in the delivery, it’s in the conception, design, and selling of an offer or product. And it’s not about you – it’s all about your audience.  Some thoughts on where service lives:

  • Capability: Your service should not be based on what you can and can’t do. It’s based on what your customer needs.  And if you can’t provide it, find a collaborator who can. Don’t constrain the value you pass on to your customer.
  • Your customer’s customer, and friend, and dog-sitter: There’s a danger in prioritising your existing customers so strongly that those you consider inconsequential get ignored.  Comments on your blog, non-specific email enquiries, requests to connect can feel like a diversion when focussing on a customer, but they are never inconsequential until proven so.  And if you don’t reply or acknowledge them, you’ll never know.
  • Human-ness: Good service is about treating us as humans, making us feel secure (“you’ll do what you say you will”), cherished (“I matter”) and delighted (“I’m glad I chose you”). That doesn’t come from a manual, in the form of trite down-pat lines (“Enjoy your *whatever*”). I’m amazed that many businesses are still asking their customer-facing teams to use them.  It’s about the extra mile that you can’t define in a manual, because it’s totally dependent on the situation. It’s what will make your client’s life easier at that moment in time, whether it’s a coffee, a report delivered a day early, being flexible about a meeting location, holding the door open (literally and metaphorically).

I’m going off to add value to a client now by photographing an important event for her – it’s not in our offer, it’s out of my way, but it makes her life easier, shows my support and – I hope – will bring her a little closer to the success she’s aiming for. That is service.  And it’s not in the manual.

Kate Spiers is founder of Wisdom London, a creative communications agency with no customer service manual.

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